I’ve been reading a lot about Exchange 2007 and have been thinking about what the next move for our Exchange server at the office should be. We haven’t decided on Exchange 2007 vs. Exchange 2010 yet, but no matter… I want Santa to bring me a way to eliminate all the PST files being used around the office.
We don’t have a large staff. With less than 70 people our Exchange server doesn’t work that hard. However, with the desire to bring email services back up as quickly as possible after a failure we have a policy in place that limits the amount of mail stored on the server to 250MB per user. This leaves our data store at a little over 18GB. Our last test restoration of exchange required about 2 hours for loading the database.
Contrary to this is everyone’s need to keep every scrap of every email message. This has lead to numerous PST files created as archives for all this mail. It’s pretty safe for me to assume that almost every employee has at least one PST file and they are all stored on the network shares.(Yes, I know PST storage on the network is unsupported.) My quick search yielded about 30 GB of PST files and I know I didn’t find them all.
So what exactly can Santa bring me?
First, I would be lying if I said I needed a server with more space. The current exchange server still has upwards of 180GB free, so it’s likely I could support years of user email with our current setup just by throwing open the storage limits.
I would like to have a proper email archiving system that would automatically move mail from the active mailboxes to secondary storage, thus leaving my primary database small while allowing users to seamlessly access old messages. Personally, I don’t keep much in the way of work email and I think that if my company wants me to keep mail for historical purposes, they should provide an easy way to do so. However, I haven’t managed to convince the powers-that-be that this is something to embrace quite yet.
My next choice would be reconfiguring Exchange using 2007 or 2010 to take advantage of additional storage groups and “dial-tone” mail service. If I could virtualize the mail server with a SAN for storage, I could bring basic services up in a snap(shot). By breaking up users into multiple storage groups, it would be possible for us to restore mail service immediately and then backfill the databases in small chunks. While it would still take time to restore all the data, users would be able to send and receive mail while old mail would trickle in as the storage groups come back online.
I know “dial-tone” restores are possible with my current setup, but utilizing it in Exchange 2007 or later is much easier than Exchange 2003 due to the auto-discovery features. I also would like to have at least one storage group (with only one database) per department, nearly double of the four storage group limit with Exchange 2003. With the 50 storage group limit in Exchange 2007 I wouldn’t have any problem meeting my goal. Also, Exchange 2010 has some good “starter” archiving features for mail management that might be worth a closer look.
Of course Exchange 2007 and 2010 require 64-bit hardware, so maybe Santa can bring me that new server after all.