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How migrating to Exchange Server 2010 can save money on storage

April 7, 2011 Leave a comment

When Steve Derbyshire, IT operations director at NEC Philips Unified Solutions UK, decided to implement Exchange Server 2010, he says he did so for three primary reasons: to get everyone on the same level of server software, to improve resiliency and to reduce storage costs, if possible.

Migrating to Exchange Server 2010 — More bang for the buck

Since migrating to Exchange Server 2010 in July 2009 as part of the Microsoft Technology Adoption Program, the company has increased its email system storage capacity by a factor of eight through the use of serial ATA (SATA) disks, Derbyshire said. This comes at only 25% the cost of new Fibre Channel (FC) disks, which would have been required if the company had maintained its mixed Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange 2007 environment, he added.

While NEC Philips’ small Exchange Server 2003 system had been on a single direct-attached storage (DAS) server, its Exchange Server 2007 environment was backed by a Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN). “We were nearing 80% or higher capacity on the SAN, and we would have had to extend it had we stayed with Exchange [Server] 2007,” said Matt Hawkins, consulting team leader at NEC Philips.

In terms of storage volume, NEC Philips had 500 GB of storage allocated to Exchange Server 2007. The company now has 6 TB for Exchange Server 2010 and spend only a quarter of what it would have to double the Fibre Channel SAN capacity to 1 TB, said Hawkins. “We’ve even done away with mailbox limits; we’ve got so much SATA that storage mailbox size is not a problem.”

“We knew going to SATA gave us the potential to do something like this, but until we got Exchange [Server] 2010 up and running, did all the calculations and made sure we had sufficient bandwidth between our two sites, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to do it,” Derbyshire added. “I thought we would [save money], but I hadn’t expected it to be quite as dramatic as this.”

To date, NEC Philips has saved roughly $3,000 in storage costs, but this is a drop in the bucket, added Derbyshire. “Ours is a small installation; extrapolate that up to a large organization and the numbers get interesting.”

More significantly, NEC Philips has eliminated third-party cold-standby and associated costs using Exchange Server 2010’s database availability group (DAG) capability. With DAG, NEC Philips can run a secondary, active server for disaster recovery. Using DAG on SATA will save the company roughly $19,000 a year, Derbyshire said.

Spinning up Exchange Server 2010 savings

Unlike its predecessors, Exchange Server 2010 offers disk input/output (I/O) that’s suitable for economical SATA disks. According to Microsoft, Exchange Server 2010’s latest mail server software lowers overall disk I/O by up to 70% compared to Exchange Server 2007.

“Exchange [Server] 2003 is a high I/O, read/write technology because it’s reading and writing all over the platter — wherever it finds open spots,” said Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, a Microsoft consulting firm in Oakland, Calif. “It’s designed that way because when it was built, there were no fast hard drives or large memory spaces. But now, when we can put 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM in a 64-bit computer and have four or eight cores for processing the information, that [technology] doesn’t make sense.”

In the background, Exchange Server 2010 defragments the disk and cleans up all open spots so that it writes information sequentially. “This might make it 20% to 30% slower to write, but the read time is 40% faster,” Morimoto said. At end of the day, this means storage cost reductions for enterprises.

“The fabric that organizations have to lay down for Exchange [Server] for storage went from $10,000 to $25,000 per terabyte of very high-speed Fibre Channel to $500 hard drives,” Morimoto said. “Do the math — $25,000 a terabyte or $500 a terabyte. Which one would you choose?”

Like NEC Philips, George Hamin, director of e-business and information systems at Subaru Canada of Mississauga, Ontario, also relishes that it no longer needs to invest in Fibre Channel drives for its Exchange Server environment.

“Originally, we had only a small portion of our user base email — basically for just the most important people, like directors and vice presidents — on the SAN, backed up and replicated,” Hamin said. “The rest of the user community had local storage. Now we’re in the process of moving everybody over to SAN without having to upgrade the SAN itself. We’ll have to add disk to accommodate the additional mailboxes, but the actual processor itself doesn’t need to change.”

This is the kind of capability that makes Exchange Server 2010 more affordable than Exchange Server 2007, which Subaru Canada migrated from per terms of its maintenance agreement, Hamin said.

SAN sensibility

With examples like these, Microsoft widely touts storage cost reductions among the chief benefits of migrating to Exchange Server 2010. In a return on investment/cost savings analysis Microsoft completed with 100 early adopters, the company found the average savings was in the 50% to 80% range, said Julia White, director of Exchange product management at Microsoft.

“We saw a ton of savings around the storage side, as well as high availability and the DAG architecture,” said White. “That’s where you see the hard-cost savings as companies look to increase mailbox sizes and use lower-cost storage to make that economically sensible,” she said.

As an example, White points to financial services firm BCG Partners. Once BCG Partners migrated to Exchange Server 2010, she said, the company was able to redeploy a $1 million SAN from email to another project, instead using a couple hundred thousand dollar DAS-based storage solution.

“Across all of early adopters that deployed on a lower-cost storage model, the numbers are pretty staggering,” White said. “Cost-savings, if not the first, is the second reason in terms of what’s compelling people to migrate to Exchange [Server] 2010.”

Morimoto, however, says he hasn’t seen cost savings from storage as a primary migration driver among his clients, although, he has no doubt that there are savings to be had. But migrating doesn’t come for free, added Morimoto, even if you’ve got a software assurance license for free upgrades.

Schultz is a longtime IT writer based in Chicago. You can reach her at bschultz5824@gmail.com.

Autodiscover and SSL Warnings during Exchange 2010 Migration

January 4, 2011 4 comments

When Exchange Server 2010 is first installed many administrators encounter an issue with Outlook clients and SSL certificate warnings, relating to the Autodiscover service and the use of SSL for Exchange Server 2010 by default.

Autodiscover is a service that allows compatible Outlook versions and mobile devices to automatically detect and configure a user’s mailbox settings.  When the Exchange Server 2010 Client Access server role is installed into an Exchange organization it automatically registers the Autodiscover service in Active Directory.

Outlook clients will connect to Autodiscover using SSL (HTTPS), but the new Exchange 2010 Client Access server is only configured with a self-signed SSL certificate when it is first installed.  This can lead to certificate warnings for your end users who are running Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010.

Outlook Warning for Untrusted SSL Certificate

Outlook Warning for Untrusted SSL Certificate

So you may wish to install the first Exchange 2010 server outside of business hours, so that you have time to resolve the SSL certificate warnings without impacting your end users.

There are three ways to quickly resolve the Outlook SSL certificate warnings in Exchange 2010 environments:

  • Adding the Exchange Server certificate to the Trusted Root Certification Authorities on all of your end user computers using a Group Policy (not recommended)
  • Issuing a new Exchange 2010 SSL certificate from a private Certificate Authority on your network (not ideal, but resolves the issue for computers that are domain members)
  • Purchasing a new Exchange 2010 SSL certificate from a commercial Certificate Authority and installing it on the Exchange 2010 server (this is the best solution, but will of course require you to spend money)

 

 

Microsoft has released its Infrastructure Planning and Design doc for Exchange 2010 sp1 just out of Beta

December 20, 2010 1 comment

The Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) Guide for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 with Service Pack 1 takes the IT architect through a step-by-step process for successfully designing an Exchange Server 2010 infrastructure.

you can check it here

Dell adviser for Exchange Server 2010 and Office Communications Server Deployment

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Dell has also released their adviser tool to help you with Exchange Server 2010 Deployments. You can find it here:

http://advisors.dell.com/advisorweb/Advisor.aspx?advisor=b6372fc5-7556-4340-8328-b8a88e2e64b2-001ebc;4&c=us&l=en&cs=g_5

Migrating from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010

November 25, 2010 1 comment

I mentioned I would provide more details on the steps needed to migrate from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010.  In this post, I’m going to outline the sequence and provide tips, tricks, and best practices to look forward to in the migration process.
Since the migration from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 is similar if not almost identical to the process of migrating from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007, if you have already done your design and plan to migrate to Exchange 2007, you’ll find the process to be similar for getting you to Exchange 2010.
The sequence for a migration from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 is as follows:
1.Bring the Exchange organization to Exchange Native Mode.
2.Upgrade all Exchange 2003 Servers to Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2.
3.Bring the AD forest and domains to Windows Server 2003 Functional (or higher) levels.
4.Upgrade at least one Global Catalog domain controller in each AD Site that will house Exchange Server to Windows Server 2003 SP1 or greater.
5.Prepare a Windows Server 2008 (RTM or R2) x64 edition server for the first Exchange 2010 server.
6.Install the AD LDIFDE tools on the new Exchange 2010 server (to upgrade the schema).
7.Install any necessary prerequisites (WWW for CAS server role).
8.Run setup on the Exchange 2010 server, upgrade the schema, and prepare the forest and domains. (Setup runs all in one step or separate at the command line.)
9.Install CAS server role servers and configure per 2010 design. Validate functionality.
10.Transfer OWA, ActiveSync, and Outlook Anywhere traffic to new CAS servers.
11.Install Hub Transport role and configure per 2010 design.
12.Transfer inbound and outbound mail traffic to the HT servers.
13.Install Mailbox servers and configure Databases (DAG if needed).
14.Create public folder replicas on Exchange 2010 servers using pfmigrate.wsf script, AddReplicatoPFRecursive.ps1,or Exchange 2010 Public Folder tool.
15.Move mailboxes to Exchange Server 2010 using Move Mailbox Wizard or Powershell.
16.Rehome the Offline Address Book (OAB) generation server to Exchange Server 2010.
17.Rehome Public Folder Hierarchy on new Exchange Server 2010 Admin Group.
18.Transfer all Public Folder Replicas to Exchange Server 2010 Public folder store(s).
19.Delete Public and Private Information Stores from Exchange 2003 server(s).
20.Delete Routing Group Connectors to Exchange Server 2003.
21.Delete Recipient Update Service agreements using ADSIEdit.
22.  Uninstall all Exchange 2003 servers.
Key to note in the migration process from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 is that many concepts go away such as the concept of routing groups and administrative groups.  Routing groups and Administrative groups were legacy from the days prior to Active Directory where Exchange 5.5 or earlier needed to have configuration settings to allow for the creation of administrators and the routing of mail.  These concepts were brought forward in Exchange 2000 and continued with Exchange 2003, however with Exchange 2007, Microsoft did away with these concepts and began leveraging the administrative roles and the Sites and Services routing roles built in to Active Directory.  With the elimination of administrative groups and routing groups, a major tip is to make sure your Active Directory is setup and working properly.  The requirement to be in Active Directory 2003 native mode is that instead of distribution lists in Exchange, Exchange 2010 uses Universal Groups in Active Directory.  Where in the past we used to create global security groups in Active Directory, now you want any group that’ll be mail-enabled for Exchange to be a universal group.  And for the proper routing or mail, make sure that your Active Directory Sites and Services is setup properly regarding subnets and site links between subnets so that mail between different Exchange servers will properly follow the shortest or fastest path designated in AD Sites and Services.
Also important to note is that all roles (bridgehead, frontend, and backend) in Exchange 2003 need to remain until all users are migrated to Exchange 2010.  Exchange 2010 CAS, Hub Transport, and Mailbox servers are not backwards compatible with Exchange 2003, so in order for a user to access Outlook Web Access on Exchange 2003, they need to still hit the Exchange 2003 frontend and access their mailbox on the Exchange 2003 backend server.  After their mailbox is migrated to Exchange 2010, then the user will hit the Exchange 2010 CAS server and access their mailbox on the Exchange 2010 Mailbox server.  Because Exchange 2010 has a proxy service on the CAS server, your external URL for OWA can point to the Exchange 2010 CAS server and if the user’s mailbox is still on Exchange 2003, the CAS/2010 server will automatically redirect the client connection to the FE/2003 server for OWA.

Lastly, after moving mailboxes off of Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010, leave the Exchange 2003 infrastructure in place for a couple (2) weeks.  By leaving the old Exchange 2003 server(s) in place, when an Outlook client tries to connect to the old Exchange 2003 server for its mail, the old Exchange 2003 server will notify the Outlook client software that the user’s mail has been moved to the Exchange 2010 server and will automatically update the user’s Outlook profile with the new destination server information.  Thereafter, when the Outlook client is launched, Outlook will access the user’s mailbox on the new Exchange 2010 server.  By leaving the old Exchange 2003 infrastructure in place for a couple weeks, pretty much all of your users will launch Outlook to have the profile automatically changed thus requiring no client system intervention during the migration process.  The only users you will likely need to manually reset their Outlook profile are users who are on extended leave and had not accessed their Outlook mail during the 2 week time that you had the Exchange 2003 environment still in place.

Hopefully these steps are helping in providing you guidance in your migration from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010.

Pros & Cons Exchange Server in the Cloud

November 18, 2010 10 comments

The decision to run exchange server in the cloud is not an easy one; for every advantage there is disadvantage. This tip goes beyond the hype to give you a realistic look at what to expect from a cloud-based Exchange Server deployment.

What’s good about Exchange Server in the cloud?

Two main advantages of running Exchange Server in the cloud involve cost and manageability.Cloud services are subscription-based, meaning that there are no upfront costs for server hardware or software licenses. Therefore, it costs much less to implement a cloud-based Exchange Server deployment that on premise.

In the past, the cost to deploy Exchange Server was prohibitive for most SMBs, who had the option to purchase the less-expensive Essential Business Server. Microsoft has since discontinued the product, though. Cloud-based Exchange subscriptions are typically priced on a per-mailbox basis; the average monthly cost of a hosted mailbox averages around $5, making it feasible for even the very small businesses. Hosting companies also provides a level of fault tolerance that was cost-prohibitive for smaller businesses.

Running Exchange Server in the cloud also lessens much of the administrative burden associated with managing Exchange. Service providers deal with ongoing tasks like patch management, server backups and meeting Microsoft’s constantly changing best practices. These companies also supply customers with proprietary, Web-based management tools, which are often easier to use than the Exchange Management Console (EMC) or Exchange Management Shell (EMS).

What’s bad about Exchange Server in the cloud?

The biggest criticism of running cloud-based Exchange is that servers are accessed over the Internet. If your Internet connection fails, Exchange becomes inaccessible. If Exchange was deployed on premise, an Internet connection failure would prevent email from traveling in and out of the organization, but users could still send mail to each other. They could also use their calendars, view contacts, etc.

The management tools that are considered a pro for some admins, can be a con for others.Administrators who have become comfortable using EMS and EMC may have trouble adapting to the Web-based management tools many hosting companies provide.

The management tools often are designed to prevent subscribers from managing certain aspects of the Exchange deployment. For example, a hosting provider may prevent subscribers from managing their own mailbox quotas.

And although a cloud-based Exchange Server deployment may simplify administration, it can actually complicate Active Directory administration. All versions of Exchange since Exchange 2000Server have depended on Active Directory; the AD requirement doesn’t just disappear when you run Exchange in the cloud. Organizations with an on-premise Directory likely will perform directory synchronization to the cloud .

Exchange in the cloud also has an inherent lack of flexibility. If you have a third-party anti-virus, anti spam or Exchange management product that you want to use, for example, you’ll have to ditch that product when you move to the cloud.

Finally, when you outsource Exchange to a cloud service provider, your data is stored on the host Exchange servers, putting it out of your direct control. It is the hosting company — not you — who retains data backups.

Exchange Server 2010 SP1 signals upgrade go-ahead

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

For many IT shops, the release of a first service pack is the traditional green light for adopting a major release of a new server. That will likely be true for Microsoft’s Exchange Server2010 SP1.

But administrators who have already installed Exchange 2010 may want to weigh the relevance of the new features before adding the service pack.

the completed version contains a number of miscellaneous features and improvements that make it more of a feature pack than a service pack.

“Although Service Pack 1 serves as a roll-up of hot fixes to date, administrators are never excited about disturbing stable deployments,” said Rob San Filippo, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft,a consulting firm based in Kirkland, Wash.

Mike Crowley, an Exchange administrator who builds Exchange environments at Microsoft integrator Planet Technologies Inc., said the SP1 release is stable, so he won’t hesitate to do new deployments on SP1 or upgrade Exchange 2010 users right away.

Administrators are enthusiastic for a couple of features in this service pack, including the increased support for two server Database Availability Groups and Outlook Web App (OWA) support for many default and custom themes.

The most notable addition to Exchange 2010 with SP1 is the ability to put a user’s primary mailbox and personal archive mailbox on separate mailbox databases, San Filippo said.

“[That capability] makes the personal archive feature more attractive,” he said. “It will let administrators put archives on dedicated disks or servers that have separate storage, maintenance routines and fault tolerance configurations.”

Since only OWA 2010 and Outlook 2010 users can access personal archives, shops still on Outlook 2003and Outlook 2007 may see this feature as reason enough to upgrade to Exchange 2010, San Filippo added.

The service pack also supports multi-tenant hosting, which enables Exchange Server 2010 SP1 to co-exist with Exchange Online. And Microsoft improved troublesome tools such as ISINTEG, the command-line utility that tests and repairs Exchange information stores, and enhanced the import/export mailbox.

What’s missing in Exchange Server 2010 SP1?

The service pack does not include a resolution to list segregation, a method of global address list deployment that allows different sets of users to view different subsets of the GAL.

“There has been a call to action for Microsoft to support address list segregation, which was supported through a guidance white paper for Exchange 2007, but not yet for Exchange 2010,”San Filippo said. “Some organizations may have thought SP1 would deliver this support.”

Users also want an update to Outlook 2007 that lets users access the Exchange Server 2010Personal Archive, which will come in a set of updates due out in the first half of 2011.