Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

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Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

Postposted on Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:11 am

I currently have a small office of about 50 users, that may max out at over 100 over the next few years. I currently run 2008 standard and exchange 2010 standard.
I need to make sure that the server has as little down time as possible in the event of a disaster such as hardware failure or software corruption. So much of our business is contained on the mail server these days, Contact, Calendars , Email , Notes and so many users require Tablets and Smart phones to access these things.

What is the best way to make sure either no, or very little down time occurs at a reasonable cost.

Here are my ideas.. I am looking for tweaks to my ideas, or alternative methods.

Idea1 (Should not have any downtime)
2 - Identical Servers $12000
2 - 2008 Server Enterprise - $5000
2 - Exchange 2010 Server Standard - $2500 - not including licensing for each

Both Servers setup identically. Ie CAS
DAG setup with database mirrors.
PFsense fireware for loadbalancing and Failover for Client access and incoming mail.

Idea2 (downtime would exist but would be limited to the time it takes to copy the vm and database to another server)
1 - Server $6000
1 - 2008 Server Enterprise $2500
1 - Exchange 2010 standard $1200

Hyper-V setup with Exchange in a VM, and the database in a normal Raid-6 partition.
If the Hardware or software fails I could reload the VM On another Server, (I have other servers that could temporarily run exchange in a pinch)

Daily backups are currently kept in two week rotation.


edit- Clarity
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DLHM
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Re: Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

Postposted on Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:03 pm

For me the first idea makes the most since if you can get the budgeting. I do something similar with my offices linux/postfix setup. The thing I found was that trying to deploy the backups, even in a virtual environment had significant downtime. Having an identical server that is somehow ready to go and is a mirror of the first will lead to the least downtime imho.
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Re: Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

Postposted on Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:55 pm

One thing to note is that you cannot buy Server 2008 R2 anymore. You'd be buying Server 2012 Standard, which has downgrade rights to Server 2008 R2 Standard and Enterprise. An open license is about $800, I think.
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Re: Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

Postposted on Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:19 pm

I run "idea 1" and it's pretty good. Downtime is still there, but it's limited to a couple of minutes during failover.
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Re: Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

Postposted on Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:09 pm

Look into Dell EMS.

http://content.dell.com/us/en/enterpris ... management

It's basically a clooooud based disaster recovery and archiving product. We looked into setting up a second Exchange 2010 server running on Win2K8 R2 and the cost was prohibitive. Dell EMS also took care of archival needs for any legal requirements we may have. We have an office of around 50 people.

You can flip a switch whenever your email server dies and your employees can log into Dell EMS's website for web mail. It even has an Outlook plugin that automagically redirects stuff to the Dell servers when it detects that you're in "backup" mode. And when you go back to normal, you can sync mail back to your main server.

There is a recurring fee per year, of course, but I still think it's worth looking into with your scenario.

We have a completely different physical location (data center) that we could use to host another Exchange server, but that means more maintenance on our end, managing another server, and paying for bandwidth at the data center. Having our backup offsite is excellent and not having to manage it is icing on the datacake.
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Re: Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

Postposted on Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:12 pm

Thanks for you insight, everyone. I'll consider the options..
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Re: Exchange 2010 Server Redundancy

Postposted on Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:32 pm

Here are just some thoughts of mine.

If you go with a two server solution, definitely consider setting them up in two different physical locations (as different as possible). If your company has a second building with connectivity, you can set up a DR site there with one of the servers.

You might want to consider virtualization whether you go with one or two servers, to make the most of the hardware you're purchasing. If you were to do a DR site, you could run Hyper-V on the DR server, put an Exchange VM, a DC VM, and try to make other critical resources redundant there as well. A Server 2012 Standard license gives you two VMs on the same hardware.

You could also consider just going all cloud with your email - I've had some experience with Office 365 and it's pretty excellent. There are obviously pros and cons to weigh there. It might also be worth looking into how much it would cost over a period (5 years) versus what continue to host your own mail will cost you for the next 5 years.
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