Exchange 2007 multiple sites, one server, mail slow

Is there anyway to setup another exchange box so that the box at the colo receives the mail but then other exchange servers get a copy of that mail and users can get their mail from that local copy vs going to the colo to get their mail?
glong3008Asked:
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piattndCommented:
"Mail Slow" is a very vague issue.  What is slow?  Mail delivery?  Can you see messages stacking up in queue?  Is it client access that is slow?  What are the symptoms?
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piattndCommented:
Also, what mail client is being used?  Are they using Cached Exchange Mode?
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glong3008Author Commented:
We get a lot of attachments in what we do so opening those are noticeably slow which then of course makes the amount of work accomplished much less throughout the day.
The mail box in particular is used by many to work in and they usually just have it as an additional mailbox to open in their outlook 2003 or 2007 client.
With cached mode enabled I don't think that includes these other mailboxes they have opened and frankly this particular mailbox is over 140GB so to cache that mail on all of their machine isn't practical either.
I may need to have that person open just that mailbox when working in it and do cache and may need to give them a bigger drive or archive more of it but pulling all that mail across that slow 5MB connection isn't going to be pretty either.
Just looking for options.
In the past cached mail hasn't been as friendly as the sales pitch!
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glong3008Author Commented:
1 5MB pdf takes about 1.5 minutes to open. When opening these and printing the information so it can be placed into our system or data entered it is a huge impact on productivity.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
A 140gb mailbox is going to be slow no matter what you do.

Outlook simply isn't designed to work with a mailbox of that size, neither is Exchange. Archive it down so it is less than 20gb and you should see some performance increases, or look at using something else for moving attachments around - there are plenty of choices which are a lot better than email.

Simon.
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piattndCommented:
I was literally just typing the exact same thing.  A 140 GB mailbox is HUGE.

That aside though, what kind of link do you have between this office and the colo?  How long does it take you to copy a 5MB file from the colo to the site?  If it's 1.5 minutes also, I'd say you're only way to speed up the process is to get exchange locally within the site.

Exchange 2007 is a lot better at handling large databases and mailboxes than what 2003 was, but I also still stand by my philosophy that exchange is not a file system, it's a communication mechanism.  If you need to transfer a large file (anything over a few MB to me is a "large file"), do it via FTP.  This was particularly true for my situation, because exchange 2003 didn't have data deduplication, meaning if 50 users received a 5 MB file, you didn't use 5 MB of space, but rather 5 MB X 50.  It's been a while since I've looked at the features of Exchange 2007, but I'm pretty sure that was the first exchange platform that introduced data deduplication (I could be wrong).

Anyways, I digress.... I think your best bet here is to start with archiving that mailbox WAY down.  Other than that, perform some plain file copy tests from colo to your site with the issue and see if files of the same size outside of the Exchange environment display the same behavior.  If they do, you know the issue is not just exchange, but it's your network link.  If you don't see the same behavior (you see a much faster access time), then it's time for you to focus on coming up with a way to keep things clean (smaller mailboxes).
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glong3008Author Commented:
Yea I know you are correct and I've archived probably just as much and need to do more. This move was  just done and trying to figure out if I need a big solution or something simple. Going to see about making this account their default so I can cache it and just add theirs to it so they can see it below this one. In the meantime work on archiving more off.
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piattndCommented:
PS, starting with Outlook 2007, I believe you can enable cached exchange mode for shared mailboxes.  I wouldn't suggest it though with a mailbox that big.
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piattndCommented:
Honestly glong, don't do that.  You don't want a mailbox that big caching to the client.  That is such a huge file.  How big are the hard drives on these machines?

The answer here is simple:

Don't use email as FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  Get an FTP site and extend it to your external needs for receiving files (SFTP if you want it secure).  Set up file shares for internal file sharing.  Get that stuff out of exchange and it will make your life and your exchange a lot better.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
Cached mode can only go to 30gb before it stops, so it isn't going to work for this mailbox at all. Therefore you have the double problems of running it live (Which is slower if not local) and the size (which is also slow).

FTP is one of doing it, but end users can struggle with that. There are quite a few solutions now that will just provide a nice web front end to upload the files to, and then the recipient gets an email to go and download it. That is what I would do if you are moving large attachments around all day. Deployed that for an architects earlier this year and they love it.

Simon.
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glong3008Author Commented:
Preaching to the choir and I agree 100%, unfortunately it isn't a matter of me creating a ftp site where clients could upload files to. It's a matter of them actually doing it that way.

Right now this is what I have to work with.

Didn't know the 30GB limit :-(
Ok, I guess I will have to work on archiving this as my first course of action.
Thanks!
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glong3008Author Commented:
Simon,
Do you have a software that you could recommend? I might run it past my CIO for future implementation.

Thanks,
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piattndCommented:
Check this link out.  It gives some alternatives to "Dropbox".  I don't know whether you have special requirements (like the server and data must never leave your internal network), so hopefully one of these will suit your needs.

http://alternativeto.net/software/dropbox/
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
We used OwnCloud (self hosted). http://owncloud.org/
There were some customisations done for them though, so out of the box it may not work exactly as I stated.

The link above might give you some more options to look at - this is a common issue so there is plenty of choice now.

Simon.
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glong3008Author Commented:
Didn't really get an answer to my question as it was presented. My initial question was is there a way to have multiple exchange servers so that one could be a local server that gets mail delivered to it from a main exchange server and locals could get their mail from it instead of going across a wan connection? Not sure if Exchange is able to do this at all.

Some gave cached exchange mode as an option which I was already aware of and honestly is very iffy at best. One user has been trying to get their .ost updated for 2 days that is around 24GB. That alone has been a challenge and finally just gave up.

Yes, we have LARGE mailboxes here and it's just the way they prefer to do business.

Even once a .ost file is up to date it seems sometimes a folder may not update for some time if it hasn't been clicked on recently. Then when they do they have to wait for a very long time before they can even get into that folder while it updates. In the end it makes cached mode slower then not having it and just waiting to pull down a new email or attachment.

Why the long story. Because I honestly don't know who to give the points to...
Can someone tell me if the scenario of a Site specific exchange server exists? Will it allow users from that site to use it for mail and not have to go to the main site?
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piattndCommented:
You can have multiple exchange servers, yes.  It's just not as cost effective if you've already got a centralized infrastructure (have to worry about UPS, backups, etc).

You can setup the server at this site to send all outgoing email to your main server in your COLO/Main site and have that server send it out.  Mail flow inbound will also hit the server in your COLO/Main site and be delivered to this server.  Users with mailboxes on this server would reconfigure their mail client to look at that server for their mail.

Data would need to be transmitted once only (at the time of the mail server receiving the message), then when a user accessed the emails within that site, the information wouldn't need to go across the WAN.
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piattndCommented:
This link explains basically what you're talking about, where you'd have one entry point for your exchange, yet you'd have an exchange infrastructure that spans across 2 sites.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb124367(v=exchg.80).aspx

Since Exchange 2007 has Role based server functions, you need to understand the roles you'd need.  Figure 1 in the above link describes the second/remote site as needing an exchange server with the following roles:

Hub Transport Server
Client Access Server
Mailbox Server
Unified Message Server (if you're utilizing it)

I think the reason why none of us experts went directly to this solution is we didn't want you to think that this would solve the slowness issues.  This will however solve your issue of clients having to repeatedly pull huge files from over a WAN link.
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glong3008Author Commented:
Why wouldn't it solve the slowness since the client would be getting mail from the on site server and they wouldn't know they had mail until it was delivered to the server they would be getting it from?
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piattndCommented:
You're assuming the slowness is due only to the WAN link.  That is the obvious bottleneck currently, but there could also be other bottlenecks (such as IOPS).  If you have a high budget for putting a server in this site, you'll likely be fine. If you're hard up for cash, you may find yourself challenged to provide hardware good enough to meet your expectations.
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glong3008Author Commented:
They decided yesterday to up our 5Mb link to 9.5Mb and things are working much better but at twice the monthly cost.
I appreciate your patience with me piattnd, I am by no means an exchange expert. I just wanted to see if that was even a valid option.
I realize if the connection is slow, delivering the mail to an onsite server is still going to be slow. I just wanted to kind of "hide" it from the end user if possible.

Today things are doing much better but at a cost!
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piattndCommented:
Yeah, bandwidth isn't always cheap!  Keep your eye on that bandwidth and see if exchange keeps eating it up.  It may still be worth your time and money to put a server locally if for no other reason than to free up that bandwidth to be used for other tasks.

Good luck and happy to help!
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