Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series And Microsoft Exchange .

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Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and MicrosoftExchange Server 2016AbstractThis document provides best practices for Microsoft Exchange Server2016 when using a Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series storage array.September 2018Dell EMC Best Practices

RevisionsRevisionsDateDescriptionSeptember 2018Initial releaseAcknowledgementsAuthor: Damon ZaylskieThe information in this publication is provided “as is.” Dell Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the information in thispublication, and specifically disclaims implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.Use, copying, and distribution of any software described in this publication requires an applicable software license. 2018 Dell Inc. or its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved. Dell, EMC, Dell EMC and other trademarks are trademarks of Dell Inc. or its subsidiaries. Othertrademarks may be trademarks of their respective owners.Dell believes the information in this document is accurate as of its publication date. The information is subject to change without notice.2Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 3925-BP-EX

Table of contentsTable of contentsRevisions.2Acknowledgements .2Executive summary.412Predeployment .51.1Storage virtualization options for ME4 Series .51.2Understanding Exchange I/O .51.3Exchange 2016 architecture changes .5Configuration .72.1Disk layout .72.2Disk groups and pools .82.3SSD read cache.92.4Data tiering .92.5Resilient File System for Exchange 2016 database volumes (JBOD) .92.6Default allocation unit size .92.7Partition type .102.8Mailbox server sizing considerations .102.8.1 Archive mailboxes.112.9Online database maintenance .112.9.1 Online defragmentation .112.9.2 Online database scanning (checksumming) .122.9.3 Database fragmentation .123Exchange performance monitoring .133.145Troubleshooting .144.1ME4 Series performance monitoring .144.2Exchange Server 2013/2016 Diagnostic Service logs .144.3Microsoft Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant (2007–2010) .154.4Microsoft Exchange Best Practices Analyzer (2007–2010) .15Recovery databases .165.1Single item recovery .166Disaster recovery with database copies and DAGs .17ATechnical support and resources .18A.13Monitoring the database defragmentation process .13Related documentation .18Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 3925-BP-EX

Executive summaryExecutive summaryThis document provides best practices for Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 when using a Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series storage array. It does not include sizing, performance, or design guidance, butprovides information about the features and benefits of using ME4 Series arrays for Exchange data storage.4Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 3925-BP-EX

Predeployment1Predeployment1.1Storage virtualization options for ME4 SeriesDell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series arrays support a variety of options for storage configurations and canimprove the performance and availability of storage for Microsoft Exchange Server. These options aredetailed in this paper to help you understand the benefits of each.ME4 Series storage also supports several connectivity options which are discussed in this paper but not froma performance perspective. The scope of this document does not include sizing or performance data. Thestorage design will be driven by business requirements for performance and availability.1.2Understanding Exchange I/OThe SAN configuration is an important part of any application configuration, and this is especially true withExchange Server. Understanding how Exchange Server works with storage helps administrators make surethat systems run in their most capable state. To ensure that Exchange Server will run in its optimalenvironment, performing some simple tests can determine whether a server and disk subsystem can providethe necessary performance.Several tools exist to put a load against and test the performance of Exchange Server and disk storage,including Exchange Load Generator (LoadGen) and Jetstress. Each of these has the capability to simulateExchange I/O patterns as well as the client experience, which can provide the estimated performancenumbers to expect from the disk subsystem. LoadGen and Jetstress are available from Microsoft as freedownloads and are discussed further in section 2.8, Mailbox server sizing considerations.Another useful tool is the Windows Performance Monitor, which can help define a baseline and show how theapplication may perform in the current environment. This tool is discussed further in section 3, Exchangeperformance monitoring.1.3Exchange 2016 architecture changesWith the decreasing cost of CPU hardware, the constraint of expensive server hardware has been alleviated.Exchange Server 2016 takes advantage of this with a primary design goal of simplicity in scale and hardwareutilization. The number of server roles has been reduced to two: Mailbox server and Edge Transport server.The Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role includes all server components from Exchange 2013Mailbox and Client Access roles:Client Access services: These provide authentication, limited re-direction, and proxy services offering theusual client access protocols: HTTP, POP, IMAP and SMTP.Mailbox services: These include the back-end client access protocols, Transport service, mailboxdatabases, as well as Unified Messaging; the Mailbox server manages all active mailboxes on that server.5Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 3925-BP-EX

PredeploymentOther new or enhanced features introduced with Exchange Server 2016 that are notable for storageconsiderations include the following:In-place archiving, retention, and eDiscovery: Public folder support for In-Place eDiscovery and In-Place HoldCompliance Search, available only in Exchange Management Shell (EMS)Improved performance and scalability: Search architecture redesigned as asynchronousImproved search scalability from 5,000 mailboxes to 10,000 mailboxes, or unlimited in EMSTo provide Exchange Native Data Protection, Exchange 2016 continues to use database availability groups(DAGs) and mailbox database copies, along with features such as single item recovery, retention policies,lagged database copies, and others. The high-availability platform, the Exchange Information Store, and theExtensible Storage Engine (ESE) have all been enhanced to provide greater availability, easier management,and reduced costs.With respect to storage, these enhancements include the following:Reduced IOPS compared to Exchange Server 2013: A reduction in IOPS/mailbox size enables larger disksto be better utilized, providing capacity and IOPS as efficiently as possible.Multiple databases per volume: This enables multiple databases (mixtures of active and passive copies) tobe hosted on the same volume and is another enhancement that allows larger disks to be used.Automatic Reseed for DAS disk failures: This provides a quick restore to database redundancy after aDAS disk failure. If a physical disk fails, the database copy stored on that disk is copied from the activedatabase copy to a spare physical DAS disk on the same server. If multiple database copies were stored onthe failed disk, they can all be automatically reseeded on a spare disk. This enables faster reseeds becausethe active databases are likely to be on multiple servers and the data is copied in parallel.Automatic recovery from storage failures: This allows the system to recover from failures that affectresiliency or redundancy. Exchange Server 2013 includes recovery behaviors for long I/O times, excessivememory consumption by the Microsoft Exchange Replication service (MSExchangeRepl.exe), and also forsevere cases in which the system is in such a bad state that threads cannot be scheduled.DAG lagged copy enhancements: Lagged copies can now care for themselves to a certain extent usingautomatic log play down. In addition, lagged copies can leverage Safety.Net (previously Transport Dumpsterin Exchange Server 2010), making recovery or activation much easier.6Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 3925-BP-EX

Configuration2Configuration2.1Disk layoutMicrosoft provides the following storage configuration best practices for Exchange 2016 in the TechNet blog,The Exchange 2016 Preferred Architecture.RAID is often used to both improve the performance characteristics of individual disks (by striping data acrossseveral disks) as well as to provide protection from individual disk failures. With the advancements inExchange 2016 high availability, RAID is not a required component for Exchange 2016 storage design.However, RAID is still an essential component of Exchange 2016 storage design for standalone servers aswell as solutions that require storage fault tolerance.Determining the storage layout before the installation of Microsoft Exchange Server is an important stepbecause it can have direct impact on performance when using other disk solutions.With Exchange Server 2016, due to the reduced IOPS required, Microsoft allows placement of logs anddatabases on the same volume for DAG-protected databases. The Jet database (EDB) activity resemblessequential reading and writing to 32 KB blocks. The transaction logs see 100 percent sequential reads andwrites.Table 1 shows a sample disk layout based on best practices.Sample disk layoutDriveRecommended configurationContentsC:DAS/SANWindows, Exchange binariesD:DAS/SANPagefileE:SANDatabase 1 and Logs 1F:SANDatabase 2 and Logs 2When using Exchange Server 2016 DAGs to create a highly resilient database infrastructure, Microsoftpreferred-architecture guidance discusses distributing three copies plus a lagged copy across DAG members,and utilizing the same drive location on each of four servers to host an active copy, as well as two passivecopies and a lagged copy of each of the four server's databases.1 Microsoft design guidance is specifically forJBOD (non-SAN) environments where larger, slower single drives are used to provide storage for Exchangedatabases. Therefore, this Microsoft guidance may not apply for ME Series SAN volumes. This is due to thefollowing reasons: 7ME4 Series arrays support a combination of HDD and SSD drives. This can improve performance byusing a mix of SSD and HDD drives and tiering data.ME4 Series arrays support a large number of RAID configurations for flexibility to help choose abalance between redundancy and utilization efficiency. The number of drives required can be greatlyreduced when using a more efficient RAID technology such as ADAPT RAID.Because each volume can be striped across multiple drives in a pool, a single volume can greatlyexceed the performance and capacity of a single drive. Therefore, multiple databases can be createdon a single volume, which can simplify management.Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 3925-BP-EX

Configuration Disk sparing is performed at the array level. This limits contact and access requirements for servers.All drives are hot-pluggable and will automatically spare and rebuild in case of replacement or failure.Spares are shared among disk groups to reduce the number of spares required.ME4 Series arrays support SAS, Fibre Channel, and iSCSI in the same platform. Based onrequirements, one or more of these may be used to access the same volumes. This can providegreater accessibility and performance to any volume than by using local direct attach to a single disk,and can accelerate backups.ME4 Series arrays can host multiple servers on the same array. If choosing to share the drives withother applications, this can be done quickly and easily.Exchange Server 2016 supports 100 databases per server with up to 16 copies of each to other Mailboxservers in a DAG organization. A best practice is to minimize the number of databases to as few as recoveryobjectives will allow. As the number of databases increases, so does the I/O required supporting theadditional data streams. This can have a negative impact on the I/O load of a system.As environments grow larger and larger, it becomes common to run out of drive letters for the volumes. Forthe purpose of scalability, it may be suitable to use Windows mount points for database and log volumes.Table 2 shows a sample disk layout based on best practices using mount points.Sample disk layout using mount points2.2DriveRecommended configurationContentsC:DAS/SANWindows, Exchange binariesD:DAS (if available)PagefileC:\DBSANMount pointsVMPC:\DB\Database1Database 1 and Database 1 logsVMPC:\DB\Database2Database 2 and Database 2 logsVMPC:\DB\Database3Database 3 and Database 3 logsDisk groups and poolsThe design of the ME4 Series array is based around groups of disks. There are two types of storage availablein the ME4 Series array: virtual and linear storage.Linear storage maps directly to a single drive or multiple disks, but has less flexibility when it comes to makingchanges.The newer method is virtual storage. Virtual storage starts with disk groups of the chosen RAID type. Thegroups of disks are added to a pool, and the volumes are then created from these pools. This allows groupsof disks to change in number and scale larger, providing potential for growth with less effort. Existing groupsand pools can be expanded.By design, an ME4 Series system in virtual storage mode will have at least one storage pool. In systems withmore than 12 drives, it may have two pools, one for each controller. This is based on how the ME4 Seriesarray handles volume management. In a two-copy DAG configuration, this can provide I/O isolation ifsufficient drives are available.8Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series and Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 3925-BP-EX

ConfigurationAt a minimum, the database and log volumes should be balanced across the pools (see Table 3). Each poolshould contain a relatively equal number of log and database copies. This will help balance the I/O across thestorage. Using the built-in performance monitoring will provide insight into how the storage traffic is balanced.Balanced pool placement of database and log volumes2.3Controller AController base4&Logs4SSD read cacheWhen SSD drives are added to an HDD pool, they can be used as a read cache. When the drives areconfigured as a read-cache disk group, they will intelligently cache pages from the entire pool.2.4Data tieringME4 Series storage supports data tiering when using virtual storage.Refer to the following information from the ME4 Series Administrator’s Guide (available on Dell.com/support):Automated tiered storage (ATS) is a virtual storage feature that automatically moves data residing in oneclass of disks to a more appropriate class of disks based on data access patterns. Frequently accessed, hotdata can move to disks with higher performance, while infrequently accessed, cool data can move to diskswith higher capacity, lower performance, and lower costs.Each virtual disk group, depending on the type of disks it uses, is automatically assigned to one of thefollowing tiers: 2.5Performance: This highest tier uses SSDs.Standard: This middle tier uses enterprise-class HDD SAS disks, which provide good performancewith mid-level cost and capacity.Archive: This lowest tier uses midline HDD SAS disks, which provide the lowest performance withthe lowest cost and highest capacity.Resilient File System for Exchange 2016 database volumes (JBOD)In The Exchange 2016 Preferred Architecture, Microsoft recommends using Resilient File System (ReFS) forJBOD volumes and not SAN volumes. ReFS should not be used for Exchange 2016 database and logvolumes on ME4 Series arrays. Each disk that houses an Exchange database is formatted with ReFS

Exchange Server 2016 takes advantage of this with a primary design goal of simplicity in scale and hardware utilization. The number of server roles has been reduced to two: Mailbox server and Edge Transport server. The Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role includes all server components from Exchange 2013 Mailbox and Client Access roles:

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