Getting your Exchange 2007 project approved– Part 1 (Fewer Servers supporting More Mailboxes)

Let’s start with one of the obvious ones - Fewer Servers supporting More Mailboxes…  OK so it’s one thing being able to say that you can support more for less but it’s another proving it.  So how do you prove that you actually save money by requiring fewer servers to support the same or more mailboxes?

It’s generally acknowledged that you should see an increase in the numbers of mailboxes you can support with a single Exchange Server 2007 mailbox server when compared to Exchange 2000 and 2003 backend servers.  We are seeing single mailbox servers deployed with anything from 1,500 very heavy users with multiple GB individual mailboxes, to 30,000 light, low concurrency mailboxes.  This should be an area where it is very easy to demonstrate a saving.

But I want to add something to watch out for here; and that is the cost associated with introducing additional layers of resilience to that which you currently have deployed. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples..! If you are attempting to show cost savings you need to show what it would cost to support your current messaging environment, and the comparative cost of an Exchange 2007 deployment. ..but what if you want to now deploy CCR and SCR where the equivalent does not exist in your environment, you may not now see a cost saving in terms of server numbers since you are deploying three mailbox servers where previously you deployed only one.

So in my opinion you need to be able to offer a couple of alternatives. Solution 1 needs to meet the same service levels as that attained by your Exchange 2003 environment. This option should demonstrate clear cost savings. Solution 2 should introduce the additional levels of resilience that you want but may not show the same levels of cost saving. So to get what you want you need to be able to show very clearly where each of your choices meets your recovery objectives. Let the IT management decide which direction they want to take. Ok so they may not decide to introduce your preferred solution but at least your project has a better chance of getting off the ground in some form.

But the key to really getting approval for your project is showing what it actually means to reduce server count.  You need to be able to assemble this type of data to really show what you are doing to save the company money:

1. Data Centre Space – it’s fairly simple to estimate the amount of rack space that your solution will use and how much rack space your solution currently consumes.  The person that manages your data centre might be able to help you convert this into a cost saving in terms of power, cooling etc..

2. Power Consumption – I think all of the hardware vendors show the average power consumption of the servers in their range and it’s a relatively easy calculation to work out power consumption savings. **Have a look at the bottom of this article for a couple of bits of information that might help.

3. Support – how much does it cost to support a single server in your environment?  This is not an easy thing to gauge but I’ve come across several companies who are able to provide a figure that they use internally. If not make an educated guess and convert the server reduction into an actual cost saving. OK so it may not be accurate but it might focus the boss’ mind?

Storage Cost Reduction

This is still a really hot topic but the bottom line is that Exchange 2007 now gives us a lot more options about which storage we choose to support our Exchange data. ..and for many deployments it does now make sense to consider more cost effective storage since we can achieve similar levels of resilience at an often significantly reduced cost. This is going to be important in getting your project off the ground. This article on the subject is certainly worth reading; Storage Design for Exchange Server 2007 - How Microsoft IT Exceeds High-Availability Targets with Large Mailboxes at Low Costs Based on New Storage Designs.

The key to the storage argument is generally two-fold. Firstly you need to demonstrate that your chosen storage solution is the right one and if you are introducing something new to your company that the solution is supportable from within your IT department.  You don’t want your manager to think that your cost cutting measures are going to lead to future supportability or resilience headaches.  Once your team are clear in which direction you want to go, and your boss is behind you, then you need to be able to show cost saving.  The new ‘Exchange Server 2007 Mailbox Server Storage Cost Calculator’ is the place to start here.   “…the Exchange 2007 Mailbox Storage Cost Calculator is designed to help you determine a portion of the mailbox server cost, namely the disk cost (purchase price and lifecycle power and cooling costs).”   Similarly to server costs the information that is going to sway the decision is demonstrating cost saving in terms of data centre space, power consumption and supportability…

**Some useful tools and links to help in calculating power consumption for your server estate;

IBM System x and BladeCenter Power Configurator
HP - To review typical system power ratings use the Active Answers Power Calculator which is available via the online tool located at URL:

Calculating Server Power Costs on WindowsITPro; an article by Paul Robichaux.

..and some other links which might help.

Is it actually time to consider DAS?
Storage Design for Exchange Server 2007