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Exchange 2003 disk configuration considerations

Performance and storage requirements you need to consider when selecting a disk configuration for an Exchange 2003 migration.

I'm working on an Exchange 2003 migration project. I put a design together for the disk layout, and I'd like to get some feedback.

We are going to cluster two servers together and use an EMC Clariion CX700 for the shared storage. The logical unit numbers have been carved up as follows:

400 GB for SMTP and MTA queues
540 GB for the databases from Storage Group1
40 GB for transaction logs (and I'm going to steal a 500 MB piece for the quorom disk)

Based on your experience, is this an acceptable disk layout? The large logical unit numbers are RAID 1,0 and the 40 GB is RAID 5. I also want to have multiple databases for performance and quicker recovery. So I am considering using that 540 GB logical unit number to house about four databases (three for production and one for recovery).

There are a total of about 2,500 users. Any insight you can give would be great.

With the size of physical media available in today's marketplace, the decision about Exchange storage has more consideration toward performance than actual capacity. You need to combine profile and storage requirements to come up with the correct configuration. It's critical to understand the mailbox I/O profile. This can be accomplished by trending disk throughput from a number of servers already online within the organization.

This is an example I have:

4,000 mailboxes per server
200 MB limits for most users, some exceptions
1.2 IOPS (Exchange 2003 RTM Profile)
2:1 Read/Write Mix
Deleted Item Retention of 3 days

4000X1.2 = 4800 Disk Transfers/sec peak
10k Disk = 4800/100 (disk capability) = roughly 48 disks
15k Disk = 4800/150 = roughly 32 disks

Microsoft also has an Exchange Server Storage Calculator that will help you make decisions on disk configuration with Exchange. I couldn't find a link to the Exchange 2003 version, but the Exchange 2000 version is located here.

I'm sure you could ask someone for the updated spreadsheet for Exchange 2003.


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