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Experts weigh in on Exchange 2013 Server Role Requirements Calculator

If you’ve been following the Exchange team’s blog with any sort of regularity recently, I’m sure you’ve probably seen that they’ve been dropping a lot of updates and new tools.

Just to name a few, there’s the:

  • Updated Exchange 2013 Deployment Assistant,
  • The new Message Analyzer tool,
  • The Exchange 2013 Management Pack, and
  • The Exchange 2013 Server Role Requirements Calculator.

The last item in this list is one that’s really seemed to get a lot of press, so I asked a couple of my most trusted Exchange experts — Dave Stork and Michael Van Horenbeeck — on their thoughts regarding the calculator.


To start, Stork pointed to the importance of the expansion of the calculator since the 2010 version, which only accounted for the mailbox server role.

“Remember, Exchange 2013 has a different infrastructure. Where in Exchange 2010, the UM role was separate, it’s now part of the 2013 mailbox role,” said Stork. “Those changes in infrastructure explain the difference in results of both calculators.”

Both experts also noted the dramatic memory increase from an eight GB minimum in the previous iteration (multi-role), to the now 24 GB minimum in the Exchange 2013 version:

“I think a lot of people will be surprised when crunching numbers. I admit, I was too at first,” said Stork.

“[When I saw the] numbers change so drastically, there was a bit of a shock. It’s not that it’s a problem though, memory is relatively cheap and CPU is usually under-utilized,” added Van Horenbeeck.

The important point to understand here is that these new memory requirements will more-than-likely affect Exchange 2013 deployments.

“For smaller shops, having to split up 24 GB for a deployment of limited size might prove too much,” said Van Horenbeeck. “The same applies for virtualizing Exchange 2013; even though it’s fully supported, who wants to virtualize a memory-crunching machine like that?”

“These requirements could mean that the adoption of [Exchange] 2013 will be slower for smaller companies; the Netherlands has a lot of companies in the 100-500 range, vastly smaller than the U.S.,” added Stork. [It’s also possible] that the adoption of Office 365 or other hosting providers will gain traction.

Upon reading this post, another trusted Exchange expert, Michel de Rooij wanted to share his thoughts as well.

“People should also be aware that the calculator tries to make recommendations based on available DIMM sizes, for example eight, 16, 24, 32,” said de Rooij. “That makes less sense of course when virtualizing Exchange. Also, for small memory amounts you get a ‘penalty’ as the minimum amount for the Content Indexing (new engine) already starts at 10 GB.”

What are your thoughts on the new calculator? Let me know.

Until next time,


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