Designing and implementing Exchange Server 2010 solutions on a virtualized infrastructure requires a different approach than the traditional way of designing Exchange Server 2010 solutions on physical infrastructure. Engineers at Dell Global Solutions Engineering have proposed a novel design framework and implementation methodology on recently launched Dell's Active System 800v - a converged infrastructure solution that combines servers, storage, networking, and infrastructure management into an integrated and optimized system that provides virtualized resource repositories.

The design framework proposes a stepwise approach to design solutions for Exchange Server 2010 deployments on Active System 800v. The goal of the framework is to design Exchange Server 2010 solutions, for various number of mailboxes and profiles, that are independent of the underlying platform. The framework concentrates mainly on identifying and configuring resources including virtual processors, memory, storage, and resource configurations along with rules for VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), with respect to various server roles that is part of a typical Exchange server deployment. Because Active System 800v consists of a completely virtualized computing platform based on VMware vSphere 5.1, virtualization best practices from VMware and application best practices from Microsoft are at the foundation of the framework. The outcome of using the design framework is set of virtual resource configurations and DRS rules that are necessary to meet the application best practices and desired performance.

The implementation methodology mainly describes an instantiation of the concepts proposed by the design framework for an example Exchange solution: 5,000 mailboxes with mailbox size of 1GB and 150 messages per day per mailbox with two-copy DAG. The methodology concentrates mainly on applying the design concepts while sizing and configuring storage, CPU, memory and networks along with DRS rules for the virtual machines in the Exchange solution. For example, as an outcome of applying the design concepts, a logical layout of a Database Availability Group (DAG) that can tolerate a storage array or a DAG node failure, is shown below along with allocation for Exchange application networks. Figure 1 depicts one possible distribution of database copies that can function in an event of one storage array failure or any one of the DAG node failure. Figure 2 depicts the allocation of Exchange public and private networks for the derived number of virtual machines.

Figure 1. DAG Layout

Figure 2. Exchange Networks

To ensure the correctness of the implementation, performance tests with tools like Microsoft Exchange Jetstress 2010 and Microsoft Load Generator were carried out along with simulation of various failure scenarios. To obtain more details on the design framework, the implementation methodology and a proof points for the sample implementation of Exchange Server 2010 on Active System 800v, please refer to the design and Implementation guide: Microsoft® Exchange Server 2010 Implementation on Dell™ Active System 800v.

Dell's Active System 800v is one of the members of Dell's Active Infrastructure family that includes Dell PowerEdge™ M1000e blade chassis with Dell PowerEdge™ M I/O Aggregator, Dell PowerEdge™ M620 blades, Dell EqualLogic™ Storage, Dell Force10™ network switches, and VMware vSphere 5.1. Dell's Active System 800v is designed to provide a highly reliable and scalable platform for virtualization, while simplifying infrastructure management. The incorporation of data center standards, like DCB with converged networking, enables Active System 800v to provide throughput benefits for enterprise workloads.