Exchange Storage Challenges

For the last few years, Exchange databases have grown in size, to the extent that performance has suffered, and there has been an increased risk of service disruption.

Consider how Exchange has evolved. When mailboxes were tens of gigabytes in size, hundreds of mailboxes could be managed on a single CPU machine. As mailboxes grew to hundreds of megabytes, more powerful dual- and quad-processor machines were needed. Now with the latest Exchange version 2007 and 64-bit machines, gigabyte mailboxes are supported, but it is still not enough.

A quick fix is to improve the way users manage email:

  • Users should always delete email once it is no longer needed.
  • The deleted folder should be emptied each day.
  • Users should file their email and avoid filling the Inbox. If the Inbox (and the Sent Items folder) is allowed to grow to thousands of items, Outlook performance is severely crippled.
  • Do not store email in PST files. PST files are easily lost and are costly to access for discovery.

However, such measures are often (rightly) resisted by users.

For the last few years, the solution has been email archiving. Email archiving moves email, based on age and size, from Exchange to the archive. In this way, Exchange storage is reduced and long-term email storage is now the responsibility of the archive. Email in the archive remains accessible via Outlook and OWA, so users can still look up and read old email when needed.

My sense is that storage management will gradually become less of a driver for Exchange archiving. My sense is also that five years out, Exchange will let users have mailboxes the size they want them to be. Archiving will still be important, indeed a necessity, but it won't be as a fix to storage management problems.

... David Ferris

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. To comment, first join our community.