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Exchange 2013 high availability best practices

Posted on 2015-01-23
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I am currently running a windows server 2012 R2 with exchange 2013 SP1 CU5.
This is a virtual machine running on VMware.
I want to have high availability for this server in the future.

What are the best practices in the current situation?

Tthe server has DAS, database and transaction logs are still on the default location.
Since I have the possibility to use NAS iSCSI storage, is it advisable to use this instead of DAS? (whole VM on SAN or just the db?)
Or, keep the DAS, JOBD with 1 volume with multiple databases? (and logs on the same volume)

In the current situation I think one extra virtual exchange server and a witness server should be setup for the DAG?

On the vmware side, so I also need to configure things? (cluster Vmware, ...?)

Do you have other hints, tips, advise?
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Question by:x2x2x
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Will Szymkowski earned 500 total points
ID: 40566135
Here are a few things I can think of...
- make sure hyperthreading is disabled for Exchange servers
- DAS or SAN is fine for Exchange. NAS is not supported
- Database and Log files should be on separate drives
- for DAG you should have an off site member also with multiple FSW in each site.
- As for VM setup there is an entire guide on best practices

Will.
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by:x2x2x
ID: 40566186
Yeah, I meant iSCSI SAN off course ;)

The thing is that I found all these best practices but it's a bit too many info at once ... .
This is not a big exchange environment, and so still a small db.
So, before creating the DAG environment, I was wondering which steps are 'essential' ... for now, to provide the best high availability at the lowest cost.

That is why I am wondering what are the best practices for a small environment:
- SAN or local DAS? (local DAS in raid or JOBD as microsoft recommends?)
- db and transaction logs on seperate volumes or drives? or one volume per drive and with multiple db per volume?
- one extra exchange and one witness server (or go for two extra virtual exchange servers, one in the datacenter and one in the office)?

I don't think clustering the VMware host is an option for now, I can always do that later.
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by:Will Szymkowski
Will Szymkowski earned 500 total points
ID: 40566281
There are different levels of high Availability DAG is solely for Mailbox/transport role for Exchange 2013. You still need to consider CAS. Using a hardware load balancer and either layer 4 or layer 7 configuration for this.

I think you are getting confused with best practices with regards to jbod vs raid vs etc. Each supported method has their own set of best practices, which option you choose is based on your needs/budget.

Having multiple witness servers and using node majority is the best method to keep your DAG from going offline in the event if a node fails or becomes un-reachable.  

Just be aware the HA comes at a cost and your only HA until your weakest point.

Meaning if your DAG is created you have HA at that level but if you have 1 CAS, if that server goes down no one connects to their mailbox. Same with storage, redudant power etc. Theses are all things to take into consideration.

The below link outlines all data options available with each best practice for each supported configuration.
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee832792(v=exchg.150).aspx

Will.
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