In March, 2005, TechRepublic member mlepage posted this thread in the Discussion Center: “I will be
installing Exchange 2003 soon, and because available space is an issue in my
server room, I was thinking of going with a blade server infrastructure and eventually
replace all servers with blades. Has anyone seen or know about issues
with installing Exchange on a blade server?”
In a subsequent thread, mlepage said he was also considering
an Exchange installation on a Dell rebranded EMC CX300 fibre channel SAN. He asked
inexpensive SAN recommendations for his Exchange infrastructure and other
data storage needs.
The short answer to his question regarding the installation
of Exchange on a blade server with the data stored on a SAN is: Go for it!
Exchange works extremely well in this kind of situation. In addition, by using
the SAN as the data storage device, mlepage can investigate a clustering
solution for Exchange that will allow him to provide a highly available e-mail
infrastructure to his company.
One restriction of blade servers is local storage. A blade
server can accommodate only two drives, so mlepage will be limited to mirroring
the drives, which will result in a single physical volume. This probably isn’t
a major problem for a small or midsize Exchange server, but the ability to separate
the operating system paging files and run the Exchange application locally from
yet another set of spindles can result in improved performance for non-blade
servers. Mlepage should try to get demo units in house and measure system
performance to make sure a blade solution is adequate for his needs. Since
space is a major consideration, the slight performance trade-off may be worth
Is the Dell CX300 a good choice for his budget-conscious
company? This question is difficult to answer, especially without knowing how
large his company is and how many mailboxes he’ll eventually store on the SAN.
However, if cost is a major factor, he should examine the many iSCSI storage
options available on the market. Exchange and iSCSI SANs
work quite well together, and the per-TB price of an iSCSI SAN is much less
than fibre channel, plus the storage infrastructure is easier to maintain.
For more information on iSCSI, check out this iSCSI project series.
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