Generational improvements in Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 and Dell PowerEdge servers provide more ways for IT organizations to save money and time while meeting growing email capacity and performance demands. For example, IOPS have been significantly reduced in Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, enabling you to use higher capacity, lower speed disk drives for storing multiple copies of Exchange databases.
Deploying Microsoft 2013 on servers with dense internal storage such as the Dell PowerEdge R730xd reduces the hardware footprint and associated administration and energy costs, while providing easy scalability. Compared to its predecessor—PowerEdge R720xd–PowerEdge R730xd supports 33% more storage capacity when using the large form factor (LFF) NearLine-SAS (NL-SAS) drives. This is made possible with the innovative internal drive tray design that supports up to four LFF disk drives. Using an internal drive tray, you can now deploy up to sixteen 4 TB LFF NL-SAS drives in the PowerEdge R730xd to get up to 64 TB of raw disk capacity.
This additional capacity and disk IOPS translate directly into additional and bigger Exchange mailboxes. The following examples show how PowerEdge R730xd can help you increase the mailbox density or size of each mailbox or messages per day significantly as compared to PowerEdge R720xd.
Note: The following comparisons are independent of each other and represent the benefits gained using a specific hardware configuration. Each example lists the hardware specifications for the servers used in the verification. PowerEdge R730xd 3.5-inch chassis is available in different configurations. Please check with your sales representative for details on these configurations.
50% increase in user mailbox size
The illustration below shows the increase in mailbox size between similar CPU and memory configurations of PowerEdge R720xd and PowerEdge R730xd with 16 internal drives. On both these configurations, the number of mailboxes and the messages per day profile was kept constant.
33% increase in number of mailboxes
The graphic below shows the increase in number of mailboxes between similar CPU and memory configurations of PowerEdge R720xd and PowerEdge R730xd with 16 internal drives. On both these configurations, the size of the mailboxes and the messages per day profile was kept constant.
33% increase in messages per day
The last comparison illustrates the increase in messages per day between similar CPU and memory configurations of PowerEdge R720xd and PowerEdge R730xd with 16 internal drives. On both these configurations, the number of mailboxes and the mailbox size were kept constant.
PowerEdge R730xd as the new Exchange building block
These improvements demonstrate why the increase in internal storage capacity combined with the reduced IOPS requirements in Exchange 2013 make the PowerEdge R730xd with 16 x LFF NL-SAS drives an ideal server platform for organizations facing increased email capacity demands. To leverage these technology advances, the Global Solutions Engineering team at Dell developed a building block approach for Exchange deployments. This approach uses a Pod as a standardized configuration of server and storage resources sized to the solution requirement (for example, number and size of mailboxes, number of emails per day and expected IOPS). The Pod shown below consists of a 3-copy DAG that has two servers at the local site and one at the remote site hosting a passive copy of the Exchange databases.
Figure 1 PowerEdge R730xd at the heart of Pod Design
The Pod design includes the minimum server and storage required to meet the Exchange solution requirement, including the mailbox profile. The configuration within each of the Pod in a deployed solution remains the same and must not change.
Scaling out Exchange Deployment
To cater to more mailbox requirements, you just need to increase the number of Pods.
Figure 2 Scaling out a Pod to support more mailboxes
With PowerEdge R730xd at the heart of the Pod design (shown in Figure 1), the above Exchange deployment, shown in Figure 2, can support up to 16,000 Exchange mailboxes of 3 GB in size, with 4,000 mailboxes per Pod.
Scaling up Exchange Deployment
If your Exchange deployment requires larger mailbox capacity (up to 5 GB per mailbox), you can extend the above Pod design by attaching a JBOD, such as PowerVault MD1400 with similar size drives as the PowerEdge R730xd. In this updated Pod design, each Pod is capable of supporting 4,000 mailboxes of 5 GB in size. Therefore, the complete solution infrastructure with 4 Pods will be capable of supporting up to 16,000 mailboxes.
Figure 3 Attaching PowerVault MD1400 to increase Pod's storage capacity
Reference Implementations of the building block approach
While the Pod design provides a standardized configuration for the server/storage, it is important to architect all other components in the Exchange deployment. You need to adhere to the best practices and recommendations for each component in the tier in the solution infrastructure.
To show how these designs are made, we released a few reference implementations that illustrate deploying the best practices at each tier. These reference implementations not only describe the best practices to be followed for optimal application performance and complete solution high availability, but also illustrate how the solution infrastructure can be designed to adhere to these recommendations.
8,000 Mailbox Solution Deployment
By implementing two Pods, that is four PowerEdge R730xd servers at the local site and two at the remote site, you can support up to 8,000 mailboxes in the deployment.
This reference implementation is based on the 8,000 mailbox site resiliency solution.
Figure 4 External Data Center Architecture for 8,000 mailboxes
For more information on this reference implementation, read Microsoft Exchange 2013 on Dell PowerEdge R730xd 3.5’’ Chassis.
12,500 Mailbox Solution Deployment
By implementing three Pods, that is six PowerEdge R730xd servers with PowerVault MD1400 at the local site and three at the remote site, you can support up to 12,500 mailboxes in the deployment.
This reference implementation is based on the 12,500 mailbox site resiliency solution.
Figure 5 External Data Center Architecture for 12,500 mailboxes
For more information on this reference implementation, read Microsoft Exchange 2013 on Dell PowerEdge R730xd 3.5’’ Chassis and PowerVault MD1400.
 At time of writing, 4 TB is the highest capacity available in large form factor NL-SAS drives.