Need a storage solution for 120,000 Exchange 2013 users? Read on…

The phrase “we need storage for 120,000 Exchange 2013 users” most likely causes most storage administrators to shudder, in some cases faint, and in extreme cases run away.  To be fair, Microsoft has made significant steps in reducing the storage performance requirements of Exchange with each release.  Exchange 2013 has reduced IOPs by 50% in comparison to Exchange 2010 for example.  But regardless of the efficiency of Exchange 2013, 120,000 users is still a large number of mailboxes to manage in terms of capacity, resiliency, and performance.

In case you are not familiar with Microsoft ESRP, here’s a little back-ground.  Microsoft Exchange Solution Reviewed Program (ESRP) is a program designed by Microsoft to facilitate third parties with the storage testing and validation of solutions for Exchange.  IBM was an early participant in this program and has since been very active.  The ESRP submissions are evaluated by Microsoft and include log files so customers can review the performance themselves.

One of the things we try to do when putting together an ESRP solution is to utilize configurations which make sense to customers.  We ask what type of configuration a customer is likely to deploy (or could deploy with the storage) and use that in the solution.  The tests are not indicative or intended to be benchmarks for the storage systems, but instead demonstrate the storage configuration that can be used for a given Exchange workload.

Late last week the Exchange 2013 ESRP for IBM XIV Gen3.2 was published.  It can be accessed here.  The XIV is unique in its methods of provisioning storage, “simple” is the single best word I can use to describe it.  When you are designing a storage solution for 120,000 Exchange users “simple” is a welcome adjective.

I will leave the details as to why XIV makes sense for Exchange to the white paper but a few highlights of the solution which was tested:

–          120,000 mailboxes

–          2 GB per mailbox

–          .16 IOPs per mailbox

–          IBM XIV Gen3.2

–          360x 4TB disk drives

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