Exchange 2010 Best Practices - Database Purposing/Design

Greetings,

We are going to be transitioning from a single Exchange 2003 Standard (physical) to a single Exchange 2010 Standard (on VMware).  As such, we get 5 DBs.  I'm looking to see what peeps have identified as best practices for designs, as I don't really concur with what is being proposed in our department and I want to see what the experts have to say.

We have 500 users/mailboxes.  We use Public Folders.  We will be using Archiving (and finally get rid of PSTs).  We're tentatively looking at 2GB mailboxes and 10GB Archive mailboxes (though only 10% of our users will use that volume).

I would think that you'd have 1 DB dedicated to user mailboxes, 1DB dedicated to Public Folders, and 1-2 DBs dedicated to Archive mailboxes, with a 3rd available as needed.

The proposed department solution is to have a user's primary and Archive mailbox on the same DB and balance the, across 4 DBs, with 1 DB still dedicated to Public Folders.  This seems like a nightmare to administer and inefficient use of the DBs.  

That said, I haven't used anything but Exchange 2003 for 10 years and have only read about Exchange 2010/2013.  I've looked into Exchange 2010/2013 Best Practices documents, and they are good about resources (CPU, memory, drive space, logging, etc), but I've been unable to find a clear design recommendation for database usage/allocation.

I appreciate any advice you experts can provide.

Thank you,

Jeremy

Oh, one other thing that is unrelated to the DBs, but may impact the project.  Our AD function level is 2003.  We will be raising it to 2008 (not R2) shortly.  Is there any benefit or impact to raising the functionality level before or after the implementation of Exchange 2010?

Thanks again.
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JerAsked:
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
don't raise your domain/forest functional level until after your 2003 server is removed else it will break; keep it at 2003 until the migration is done.  exchange 2010 will work fine at 2003 level.  once the 2003 exchange server is removed, you can raise your functional level to 2008.

this will help to understand functional level features

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/understanding-active-directory-functional-levels%28v=ws.10%29.aspx
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JerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the good info Seth.  I would not have thought there would be a negative impact to Exchange 2003 by raising the functional level to 2008 (all DC are already at least Server 2008).  Of course, that is why I asked.  :-)

I presume that it is due to Exchange's integration with AD?
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
haven't looked at it in more depth; just remember reading that raising it beyond 2003 will break exchange 2003.  the fact the domain controllers are 2008 functioning at 2003 level is fine in itself
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JerAuthor Commented:
As I keep reading, I see that there are various designs.  MS suggests multiple servers.  We're pretty small, so we're just looking at 1 server.  If we were to have one of our Archive mailbox DBs on a different server, does that server need to have Exchange on it?  Also, I'm unclear how the Restore LUN works.  Is that a dedicated database or is it separate from the 5 allocated DBs?

I appreciate any assistance.

Thank you,

Jeremy
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JerAuthor Commented:
OK, can someone provide any input?  I'm having a conference call with an MS VAR, and they are saying that MS recommends that a DB is no bigger than 100GB.  That seems crazy small.  They say that it is due to the speed of restores.  Is that for reality for anyone?  Are we crazy to think that we're going with 2GB mailboxes and 10GB Archive mailboxes for 500 users?  Is 500 mailboxes too large for MS Exchange Standard?  Is that too large for a single server?  I understand HA/redundancy for sure.  I'm just saying for initial function/performance.

Please advise.

Thank you,

Jeremy
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JerAuthor Commented:
Frankly, nobody answered my question.  I just wanted to give Seth 100 for addressing part of it, but I don't see it worth 500.  I just don't see a reason to keep this open, as I have moved on.
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