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New Exchange 2010 transition from Exchange 2003 - need input/advice on role deployments for HA

Posted on 2011-09-15
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Brief backgroud: We have (2) identical Dell R510 servers loaded w/ (10) 1TB 7200 nearline SAS drives and (2) 146GB 10k drives for the OS, approximately 800 mailboxes, less than 100GB of databases.  We'll be installing Ex 2010 Enterprise & Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (currently on Ex 2k3). I would like some input from the Experts on the Exchange Server role deployments.  I know that I want/need to do DAG for database resiliency.  I wasnt involved in the procurement of these servers, but was told that the plan was to have all 3 roles (mailbox, CAS, HT) installed on both boxes.  However, isnt there a stipulation that if doing DAG you cannot do CAS on both servers because of the limition of only NLB or Clustering can be installed, not both.  In this scenario, I've read that you'd need to acquire a hardware NLB instead of using Windows NLB.

With that said, what are the recommendations from the experts on making the most use of this hardware and getting the best HA/resiliency?  Also, what are your thoughts on the RAID scenario for this deployment w/ this current hardware?  I'm so used to using 15k scsi drives w/ Exchange, but now am reading a lot of recommendations for these 7200 drives and unusual RAID setups...for example, Dell recommends using these (10) drives to setup either 4 or 5 RAID 1 pairs and putting the logs on the same RAID 1 as the database...all of this is so different, I'm just curious to know how the experts are seeing this deployed in real world examples.  Thanks in advance.

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Question by:wpstech
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ctc1900 earned 250 total points
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I'd recommend you read the following article, I found it very useful for setting up a similar DAG configuration as the one you are describing
http://anewmessagehasarrived.blogspot.com/2010/02/exchange-2010-site-disaster-recovery-on.html

Regarding RAID configuration and disk RPMs.  We were using 15K RPM drives on Exchange 2003 and went for 10K RPM RAID 5 for Exchange 2010 to help maximize storage capacity, but we do occasionally encounter a split second Outlook performance degradation. Having said that, our mailbox utilization falls on the extremely heavy user side, 5GB average mailboxes. This degradation is so small that it is not a problem, there are plenty of articles about this out on the internet but this is my personal experience.  
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by:wpstech
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im looking to get some specific recommendations on what folks are doing when deploying all (3) roles in 2 exchange servers and using a DAG...specifically how they are handling the 2 instances of CAS.  Since we dont have a hardware load balancer, it seems that our 2 options are Round Robin DNS or pointing the CAS to the DAG IP...this is what I'm specifically interested in getting more opinions/advice on.  

regarding the storage, I dont think it would be wise for us to do a RAID 5 w/ 7200 nearline sas disks, so I still want to get more feedback regarding this as well...thanks
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by:wpstech
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so, who can offer some recommendations on RAID for this setup for my database and logs...(10) 1TB nearline SAS 7200 drives, 800 mailboxes, less than 100GB total database size...should I do (5) RAID 1's (which is what Dell recommends in their documentation)...should I put the logs on the same RAID as it's database?  should I do 2 RAID 10's and put all mailboxes on 1 and all logs on another?  
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