Exchange 2013 designing plays a major role in the successful deployment and long running Exchange without any issues. The main objective before designing the solution is to understand the technical and business requirement. These requirements has be understood, reviewed and documented thoroughly. Given below are the business and technical requirements which need to be considered before designing a new solution. These requirements vary from customer to customer depending on their type of business, country regulation, infrastructure, budget etc.
Total Cost of Ownership
It is both the direct and indirect cost and benefits with the implementation of the new solution. It includes purchase of the hardware, license, power, maintenance, engineers, hidden cost, etc.
Reduction in Implementation Time
There are tons of works required to implement Exchange and management, always looks for the automated process to deploy the new solution. Projects allow bounded by tight time lines and automated deployment, configuration and versions are the only to meet the tight deadlines. Automated process reduces human efforts, time and errors.
Uptime of the server and uptime of the service are two different things. Server can be up but the services can be down. It has no meaning when the servers are up and services are down. Service uptime is measure in percentage and business expects to have very minimal down time. To provide 99.999 percent of uptime, it comes with the huge cost.
No or Minimum user impact
Migration of users to the new environment should have minimum or no impact. Users should be able to continue to send and receive emails with continue access calendars, shared mailboxes, and delegate mailbox during the migration.
Compliance and Legal requirement
New solution comply with compliance and legal requirement of the organization. It should support legal hold, eDiscovery, Role based access control etc. to meet the needs.
Supportable and expandable
There are tons of dependent applications which integrate with exchange. New version of exchange should be fully supported by both in house and vendor applications. It should also be scalable to accommodate the expansion of the organization growth.
It should offer strong encryption and security from any kind of security threats and breaches. Security threats or breaches can be like spoofing, phishing or spamming, which can be very unhealthy to the organization and cause damage in terms of reputation and money. Mobile devises are easy sources of security threats, implementing encrypting thought Active sync policy would secure it. Other comment
Data Retention and Recovery
Companies have different retention polices for different types of emails. Some needs to retain the email forever and some would need to retain them for 7 years and some may be for just a year. One the other side, these retained email should be available for recovery depending on the requirement. These recoveries can be for the accidental deletion of email or recovery of email of several years back for the legal dispute.
Exchange Recovery time Objective (RTO) and Recovery point object (RPO)
RTO is defined as part of the disaster recovery and business continuity plan. Exchange Recovery time object is the acceptable account of time taken to restore after a disaster or service distribution occurs. Depending on the criticality of the service, RTO time varies and exchange being one of the most critical applications, which would need to have the RTO time as low as possible. It can be specified in seconds, minutes, hours or days. For example, if the RTO time is around 4 hours then you need to invest huge amount of money to provide redundant infrastructure but If RTO time is about day or two, then it would give some time to restore the service at the reduced infrastructure investment
RPO is also defined as part of the business continuity and disaster recovery plan. It is the maximum acceptable level of data loss after any disaster or catastrophe. It represents the point in time data to be recovered to resume the normal operation. It is calculated in Seconds, minutes, hours or days. If the RPO is 5 hours, then exchange data must be backed up once in 5 hours. Lower the RPO, higher the infrastructure investment cost and vice versa.
Easy Administration and implementation
It should be easy to manage, implement and the interface should be easy to use and provide remote PowerShell management. It should also provide the scope for automation to reduce the management and administration efforts.
Bigger Mailbox size
Users never want to delete anything from their mailbox; they want to keep everything. To address this issue, new Exchange solution should support bigger mailboxes
Bigger database support reduces the number of databases in the organization. It also reduces the maintenance and management efforts. Newer disk provides larger storage space and accommodate bigger Database.
It should support rich clients like Outlook, Outlook Web access, various mobile devices like blackberry, Active sync and Mobile device management solution.
High Availability and Disaster recovery
High Availability (HA) and Disaster recovery (DR) are very important for a business. Loss or unavailability of emails can be huge loss to the business; thus, HA and DR can help in reducing the complexity of delivering business continuity.
It should be able to integrate with another application and systems in the organization. Some of other applications like Lync, SharePoint, office application, some in house and other third party application. Organization will have many in-house built or third party application like SAP, HR etc. and this needs to be supported by the exchange server.
Virtual or Physical
Exchange is resource intensive application and depending on the organization policy some may want to implement physical and other want to go for virtual. Over the years, virtualization has proved to provide better performance with CPU and Memory. Microsoft also supports Exchange 2013 on virtualization technology like HyperV and Vmware, they also have provided some guidelines and best practice when Exchange is been implemented on vitalization. It’s totally a technical requirement from the Exchange team on the path they wanted to take to implement exchange.
Understanding Current Environment
Understanding current environment plays a major rules in designing the solution. It is very important to understand every component of the exchange and its depending tools which works in collaboration of exchange. Without understanding current environment, it would be impossible for anyone to design the new solution.
To start with need:
1. Exchange Architecture diagram
2. Exchange designing document
3. Exchange Configuration Information document
4. Exchange Server CPU Utilization and specifications
5. Exchange server Memory utilization and specifications
6. Exchange Mailbox Database configuration and Size
7. Exchange server Storage utilization type and design
8. Network diagram
9. Current High Availability and Disaster recovery model
10. Vendor support documents and support number.
11. Active directory diagram with server details
12. Blackberry and Mobile device Management (MDM) software and server details
13. SharePoint solution
14. Instant Messaging and Unified Messaging solution
15. Backup Solution
16. Fax solution
17. Archiving solution
19. Antivirus Software
20. Gateway and Spam filtering solution
21. Email Encryption
22. Business Custom Application
23. Monitoring and reporting solution
24. Custom Outlook plugins
25. Signature Software
26. Server Patching Solution etc.
There are various native and exchange built-in tool available to pull the necessary information on the current environment and they play the vital role in designing.
1. Exchange profile Analyzer
2. Exchange Environment Report
3. Microsoft Exchange Server User Monitor (ExMON)
5. Exchange Best Practice Analyzer
With these information, we get some good idea on the all the business and technical requirement and also help to get the complete knowledge on the existing environment. It helps provide solution which is ideal for the requirement and to accommodate the business growth. I hope this article helps you to considers all the factors before designing a messaging solution for your organization.