Multiple companies using one Exchange server and having multiple offline address books

Posted on 2011-09-12
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hi Guys,

Can anyone recommend a solution for the following scenario?

Exchange server is used by 6 different small companies. Each company requires its own offline address book and its own backup.

What is the scalability of this model, i.e how many companies\clients can operate efficiently on one installation of Exchange at optimal performance. What version of Exchange (i know its not possible on 2003)? Any other suggestions?

The exchange installation is eventually going to be virtualized.

Thanks you in advance.

Questions welcome

Question by:mk9
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36522255
Wait for the shortly to be available Exchange 2010 SP2 - it will include AB segregation support.

It will no longer be based upon the extremely dodgy permissions ACL, but will use separate AL Policies.
LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 36522392
TheGeezer - Thats a good point.

For the backup model - I would go with each company on one or more databases for easier backup/restore without affecting others. I think the current database limit for exchange 2010 is 100 databases on the server.
LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 36522396
Thats limit is for enterprise version by the way
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36522417
5 for Standard.

Other advantages of 2010 (and there are LOADS) if you have Enterprise OS - ideally W2008R2 Enterprise, but can use 2008 SP2 Ent, you can set up DAGS for the databases to allow for failover. This does not remove need for backups, but provides a LOT of peace of mind for the safety of your data !!

Author Comment

ID: 36522440
Thanks for your replies TheGeezer2010 and OriNetworks. What are your opinions on Hosting Mode installation of Exchange 2010 SP1? As described below:

Do you have any practical experience \ advice when it comes to this version?

Ultimately, our goal it to host email commercially, meaning that each customer gets a 'standard' exchange experience including address book, calendar, public folders, individual backup.

Do you think its better to wait for Exchange 2010 R2 and use it's 'isolation' features, rather than roll out a 'hosting mode' exchange 2010 sp1?
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36522493
There have been many issues I have dealt with when using anything which requires changes to the ACL for the default GAL. If you follow the instructions EXACTLY, and you have a vanilla installation, you SHOULD be able to get it to work. In my experience, both of these are rarely the case.

If it were me, and looking at HOW they are going to implement this, it looks a far better way than the previous method - I would wait for SP2 which should be out pretty soon.

Other option is to get MS to host it for you - but that kind of defeats the whole object ?

Author Comment

ID: 36522879
Ok, so if i were to start an e-mail hosting service (potentially growing to a larger scale) - using the SP2 'isolation' method would make it a lot easyer to set up...
just a couple more questions:

Would using the SP2 method compromise security in any way?

Would each company be able to function as a stand-alone installation of exchange (address book, calendar, public folders, individual backup)?

Many thanks


LVL 11

Accepted Solution

TheGeezer2010 earned 500 total points
ID: 36522995
We don't yet know exactly how the implementation is going to work (will check out Redmond site for that !), but it would appear the idea is to allow companies to do hosting. Since Microsoft makes its cornerstone of its software the security aspect, I think it is safe to say the segregation solution will provide for secure segregation. This is for Address Book segregation and this needs to be remembered.

Public Folders - you will need to plan this carefully around the selected hierarchy. Hopefully this link will give you some pointers :-

Backups - Exchange 2010 no longer supports streaming backups so no backups to tape. What it DOES support is Volume Shadow backups. You need to combine your DAG strategy with your VSC backup strategy to provide the optimum solution. I would seriously consider investing in 3rd party Enterprise backup solution. Your consultations with these companies should clearly show how their solution provides for the hosting environment you are proposing. Read how DAGS work, and Microsoft suggested planning and architecture of DAGs. Having more than one HT server in same site automatically affords redundancy and load balancing. Regarding CAS servers, Microsoft recommend you deploy a HW LB for the CAS array.

Hope this is of help

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