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Exchange 2010 Advice

Posted on 2015-02-02
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Last Modified: 2015-02-16
It's been a while since I posted so I hope everyone is doing ok.

I have roughly 10yrs experience in running Exchange Servers but they have always been relatively small deployments ( 10 - 50 users). In the last 5 yrs I joined a company that started off with 30 Exch users with a EDB of about 80GB. The company have grown! We currently have 70 Exch users and our EDB is around 300GB. On average this company receives around 30 - 40 000 emails a month, yes I said receives, I have not yet checked how much we are sending out.
The company is required to keep a minimum of 10 yrs emails due to ISO 2009 requirements which forced me to implement a mail archiving solution from MailStore.

I have had 2 Exch crashes in the last 3 years due to hardware failure and corrupt edbs, but recovery went well and everyone is happy.

Just a quick briefing on what my Exch is running.

2x Xeon quad core (hyper-threading disabled)
32GB RAM
RAID 1 for OS (2x 600GB SAS)
RAID 5 for everything else (8x 300GB SAS) yes I know, not a good idea, change is coming though.
Server 2008
Exchange 2010
MailStore Archive (run on a separate system)
StorageCraft ShadowProtect backups. (monthly full, daily incremental)

So after mentioning all the above I come to my questions as my Exch knowledge is a bit limited here.

Given the volume of mails and the size of the edb what would be the idea deployment here, what can I implement to improve performance and reliability?

Secondly, what kind of backup solution do I need to implement to comply with my company's ISO standards?

My fear is that the current deployment won't be able to keep up with companies growth and increase of mail volume, so I would like to start planning and take steps to to prevent a disaster recovery and possible mental break down.
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Question by:DJMohr
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Expert Comment

by:Manoj Bojewar
ID: 40583504
I would Suggest you to go for Dell Appassure backup tool. This tool has Bare Metal Exchange recovery with very smart option.
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Author Comment

by:DJMohr
ID: 40583514
Appasure looks to be the same as ShadowProtect, more or less. We have been using ShadowProtect for years, it's been a joy to be honest, Appassure would have to blow me away to make me want to switch.
What backup media do you suggest, I am a tape fan but my Directors seem to have their own ideas on tape and prefer external drives and NAS devices
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Adam Farage earned 500 total points
ID: 40583955
DjMohr,

I would recommend standing up a second multiple-role server and doing a DAG. If you do this you will have high availability and also reduce the stress that is put on the server. The servers should be exactly the same, so just get something exactly like your current Exchange box if possible.

RAID 5 is fine if you are getting the IOPS and for that small of a deployment I dont think it would be an issue. You could always resize the organization to see what the IOPS would be (using the Exchange 2010 role calculator) but that is your option.

As for the ISO 2009 requirements, I believe all you need is a copy of the email and not the mailbox itself. I would recommend a journal / archive solution (like Symantec Enterprise Vault). As for backups I use a wide variety of vendors. If you are archiving to a SQL database (like most archiving applications) and also journaling (for eDiscovery / compliance using a third party tool, which normally comes with most journaling / archiving software) then you can reduce your backup retention to 30 days like most organizations. I would just make sure your backup software is VSS compatible and also is compatible with Exchange server.
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Author Comment

by:DJMohr
ID: 40585649
Thanks Adam Farage.
The hardware is rather old, at least 5 years so will struggle to find anything the same. With that being said it might be considered to replace the server completely with maybe two smaller 'newer' servers. I have been looking at the Dell PowerEdge series, I would assume a dual socket would be required again or would it suffice having a single socket 8 or 12 core system?
For the RAID I was thinking RAID 1 (SAS) for the OS, RAID 1 (SSD) for log files and RAID 10 (SAS) for the  edb.

The last Exch crash I had was about 2 weeks ago where the server was complaining about major performance errors, so would like to try avoid hiccups down the road as much as possible.

Another alternative is a Hosted Exchange; any thoughts on that?
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Author Closing Comment

by:DJMohr
ID: 40613594
Thank you
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