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Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration

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Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 2.Feb.2006 4:49:32 PM   
AdamHolmes

 

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Joined: 27.Jan.2006
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As the topic states, I'm looking for what the recommend configuration is. I plan on using an Adaptec Raid controller to have one RAID 1 OS/Exchange array and one RAID 1 Transaction Log array.

I guess that brings up the question, does the front end server create transaction logs? I'm beginning to think it doesn't. And if it doesn't, is there any reason to have more than a single array? Maybe I could do a 0+1 array. Let me know guys.

Thanks!
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RE: Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 2.Feb.2006 9:01:58 PM   
cheeminlee

 

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Joined: 30.Jun.2005
From: Massachusetts
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FE servers should be designed with local storage
- For very high load FE servers, you may create two RAID1 volumes: one for OS/Exchange binaries, the second for swap file.
- For the typical OWA design, a local RAID1 volume with a hot spare (nice to have) would be good enought.
- Best practice is to build a minimum of two OWA server, for redundancy.

You are correct, OWA or Front-End servers typically have their databases stopped and disabled, so they do not generate Transaction logs (ie. no need to design seperate transaction log volumes).

Regards,
Leonard

note: my definition of High End OWA server is one that is loaded with thousands of HTTP connections, with CPU loads above 50+ percent all the time....something like a college or unversity....


< Message edited by cheeminlee -- 2.Feb.2006 9:04:07 PM >

(in reply to AdamHolmes)
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RE: Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 2.Feb.2006 10:30:09 PM   
abhi_ak

 

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yea thats absolutely correct

_____________________________

Regards,
Abhijeet Kulkarni,
MCSE, CCNA , CCNP,

(in reply to cheeminlee)
Post #: 3
RE: Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 3.Feb.2006 12:47:18 AM   
AdamHolmes

 

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Joined: 27.Jan.2006
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Thanks guys! It's defniietly not a high load server. Infact, it will get about as little use as you could imagine that a server would get, but I wanted to future proof it. Thanks again.

(in reply to abhi_ak)
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RE: Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 3.Feb.2006 12:51:38 AM   
abhi_ak

 

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your'e welcome man no need to say thankyou :)

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RE: Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 3.Feb.2006 4:32:48 PM   
JoeyTMann

 

Posts: 40
Joined: 16.Jan.2003
From: Minnesota
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I am considering putting in an FE, but in my case will get some heavy usage. I work for a school district and we have a ton of Macs, that use Outlook 2001. But we know we are going to have to move to Entourage soon and those clients connect via http/webdav. I was figuring on a dual proc machine with a crap load of ram, and RAID 1 for OS and Exchange. The user count is probably going to ramp up slowly to about 1000 people using Entourage, my question is what should I consider a crap load of ram, 4gb, 6gb 8gb?

(in reply to abhi_ak)
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RE: Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 3.Feb.2006 8:02:58 PM   
cheeminlee

 

Posts: 28
Joined: 30.Jun.2005
From: Massachusetts
Status: offline
Good question .... and my favourite topic...peformance tuning and scalability :)

The heart of an OWA Server is IIS 6.0 for Windows 2003 and IIS 5.0 for Windows 2000.   

Performance tuning and Scalability is a balance between scaling up and scaling out.

To Scale-up, you would add more RAM and CPUs.  
To Scale-out, you would add more OWA servers.

The ideal design is to balance between these two. 

Try not to design an OWA server to handle more than 4 back-end servers or say less than 8,000 active connections.   At this level, you start getting into worrying about other potential bottlenecks like NIC cards, CPU context-Switching, etc.   For an OWA server for 8,000 users you can get away with 4GB RAM and a dual or quad processor system (depending on MHz, you'll need to lab this to get the right mix).

Lastly, don't forget to tune the OWA server, especially the Content expiration value.  This needs to be set higher than 1 day.  As a practice, I recommend setting it to a 30 days value.
HOW-TO:
IIS console
- Web Sites
- ExchWeb
    - Img -> select properties | HTTP Headers Tab
            -> Check: Enable content expiration - set to expire after 30 days
A setting of 1 day will increase network traffic, that can result in very poor OWA response time.   I had a client last year that was a college, 15,000 users with limited Internet bandwidth  This setting cause OWA to fill up their small internet connection, resulting in poor OWA response time. A setting to 30 days dramatically reduced their network utilization and OWA access latency was improved.  BTW: this college had only two OWA server for 15,000 users, but not all 15K were ever online at once.  I think the college peaked time had around 5K or 6K active connections, and the two servers was not overly built: two 1.8GHz CPUs and 3GB RAM.

< Message edited by cheeminlee -- 3.Feb.2006 8:08:20 PM >

(in reply to JoeyTMann)
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RE: Front End Exchange Server Recommended Configuration - 7.Feb.2006 8:06:02 PM   
JoeyTMann

 

Posts: 40
Joined: 16.Jan.2003
From: Minnesota
Status: offline
Well I am looking at roughly 1000 users accessing OWA, so I guess just a good machine with 4gb of ram and dual procs is the way to go. My BE will handle all the PC users which at last count was roughly 200-300. Both servers will be on gige connections and in the same subnet. just have to remember to tell my fw admin to change the NAT of our outside access to the new FE if/when I get it.

Thanks for the tips.

(in reply to cheeminlee)
Post #: 8

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