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From the Chief Technology Officer at Marathon Technologies

Jerry Melnick

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Exchange 2007 and the Virtualization Opportunity

While most companies using Microsoft Exchange still use Exchange 2003, Exchange 2007 provides a new, more flexible architecture that provides real benefits worth looking at. This new architecture is based on server roles. All services and features are organized around five distinct server roles: Mailbox, Client Access, Hub Transport, Unified Messaging and Edge Transport. The big advantage to this approach is that you only have to deploy the roles that are needed and multiple copies of a role can be deployed for enhanced availability, DR and performance.

When Exchange 2007 is run in a virtual server environment each role can be implemented as a separate virtual machine. Individual services can be easily matched to resource requirements by selecting the number and location of the virtual machines implementing each service to be started. The number, location and configuration of these virtual machines can be dynamically adjusted as usage requirements change over time. Infrastructure components that support the Exchange environment, including Active Directory, DNS and DHCP that have traditionally required separate servers and distinct availability solutions, can now be implemented as virtual machines in a common resource pool and leverage the common availability solution that is used to address the entire virtualization environment.

Virtualization also makes disaster recovery easier to implement, more effective and less costly. Virtual machines separate the software configuration from the underlying hardware. This provides total flexibility in the hardware required for the disaster site. One set of hardware can provide disaster backup for multiple applications and cost effective configurations can be chosen strictly based on their disaster recovery role. Software configurations change over time and changes must be duplicated at the disaster site to ensure proper operation. This can be extremely time consuming and error prone in a physical environment. In a virtual environment, the configuration is contained within the virtual machine definition file. Simply copying this file to the disaster site is all that is needed to maintain configuration compatibility.

So how many of you have made the important step to moving to Exchange 2007? If you haven’t deployed 2007 yet, are you planning to? We would love to hear from you. If you have a minute, please take the poll to the left and tell us your plans. If you deployed it, are you taking advantage of the virtualization benefits? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.

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More Stories By Jerry Melnick

Jerry Melnick (jmelnick@us.sios.com) is responsible for defining corporate strategy and operations at SIOS Technology Corp. (www.us.sios.com), maker of SIOS SAN and #SANLess cluster software (www.clustersyourway.com). He more than 25 years of experience in the enterprise and high availability software industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Beloit College with graduate work in Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Boston University.