Exchange 2010 Archiving: Storage Management Issues

Exchange 2010 is the next version of Exchange Server. It is due for release at the end of 2009 or early 2010. Exchange 2010 includes many new features and enhancements for archiving.

It's early days for Exchange built-in archiving, and storage management is an important area in which it falls short:

  • It does not move archived email off the Exchange Server. Since email never leaves the Exchange Server, Exchange data protection, storage, and recoverability will all be adversely affected as the total Exchange storage increases.
  • It (as well as all previous versions of Exchange) does not perform single instance storage across all of its stores. This means the email you archive in Exchange 2010 is not de-duplicated, which further compounds archive storage problems.

At last month's TechEd, a Microsoft employee presented Exchange 2010 archiving and positioned the offering as a "personal archiving" solution and not an "organizational archiving" solution. This is correct. Today, an organizational archive must keep the archive data off-host, fully de-duplicated, and under full retention management.

Exchange 2010 archiving is a useful replacement for PST files and personal archiving. But it falls short of a true organizational archive solution. Today, only third-party solutions deliver all the features required.

... Bob Spurzem

One Comment

  1. Ryan
    Posted September 13, 2009 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    If 2010 archiving features is “personal grade”, then we would stick to PST files. That is because they give our mobile user off line access to their data, plus it relives the capacity from the Exchange server…

    This is not to say that 3rd party archiving does not deserve a place…

  2. Posted December 22, 2009 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    A few comments on this…

    Keep in Mind that Archiving and Compliance Journaling are not the same thing. If your organization has compliance needs than Journaling is what you need. If you’re just giving users larger mailboxes then that’s typically been done with a 3rd party archiving solution. Many times those solutions have merged the two into a single solution but the problem has been the end user experience (shortcuts, offline archives, etc).
    To fully appreciate the Exchange 2010 archiving solution you need to look at the total Exchange 2010 design points.
    1. E2010 was designed to run on 1TB 7200RPM Desktop SATA drives that are direct attached in a NON-RAID configuration. This means your total storage costs (Drives, HBA’s, RAID controllers are now) very cheap.
    2. Microsoft is now supporting up to a 2TB database EDB if you have 3 copies of the database in a DAG.
    3. The online archive is designed to be used with a very large mailbox (typically described to be at least 1 year of email online/in the OST).
    4. With the addition of single message recovery you no longer have to restore very large database files to undelete end-users deleted messages.
    Now with this understanding you can now give users very large offline mailboxes (up to even 20GB) with very low hardware costs and not have to worry about restoring 2TB databases from tape.
    Now, add the ability to give users an Offline Personal Archive (that is that it’s only available when you’re online or via OWA) which would typically only contain email that is much older and not frequently used, then points about needing PST’s or an archiving solution for the purposes of large mailboxes don’t necessarily hold true.
    With respect to the requirements for Compliance Journaling, there is an argument to be made for an archiving solution and possible storage issues since those solutions don’t utilize this type of storage solution.
    So, I believe that before people dismiss the new features in Exchange 2010, they need to truly understand the big picture of E2010.

  3. Steve
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    Hi,
    We have implemented the Exchange 2010 archiving, and whilst it is good a getting rid of PST files it in no way competes with proper archiving, searching and shortcutting, for this reason we are also staying with our 2e2 SourceOne solution. Having the archive in the same Database is a joke as if you need to configure many DAG’s (like we did) then that is a lot of storage and none of the data is SIS. Please be careful, 2010 is not email archving but a way to centralize PST data!!
    Regards
    Ste

  4. bspurzem
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Thank you for your response. As a service to our readers, could you please supplement your experience with some actual figures? It would be useful to illustrate how a single mailbox of say 500 Mb can balloon to over 2 TB when you add PST data and apply DAGs.

    And I agree 100% with your position. SATA drives or not, too much storage creates huge management and data protection challenges. It is better to keep your long term email storage in a dedicated archive (where there is also SIS) and keep Exchange ‘lean and mean’.

    Not what Microsoft wants to hear, but good to hear that someone like you who works in the trenches sees as an obvious issue.

    bob.

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