Exchange 2000 for the Big Guys

Scaling Microsoft Exchange 2000 is a pragmatic guide to designing large implementations.

Microsoft has positioned Exchange 2000 as not only a replacement for the venerable Exchange 5.5, but also as a replacement for the Microsoft Commercial Internet System (MCIS), a little-known product targeted toward ISPs and other organizations to provide the type of massive e-mail services that were previously the bastion of Unix and Sendmail. Other than a few anemic white papers from Microsoft, there's little information available on how to design and configure Exchange 2000 for large environments. That's where this book comes in.

Author Pierre Bijaoui is a principal consultant with Compaq Global Services, an organization famous for creating and managing some of the largest Exchange installations in the world. He brings those experiences with him as he explains the tricks, traps and nuances associated with scaling Exchange 2000 in large environments.

The book starts with an overview of the components of an Exchange 2000 installation, how they interact, and how it all interfaces with Active Directory. From there, it gets down and dirty. The next few chapters break down all of the subsystems of Exchange 2000 in explicit detail, with clear, succinct explanations of how to make design decisions on hardware and configuration, depending on your environment.

The author covers vertical scaling (or scaling up), the process of adding more resources to an existing server, as well as horizontal scaling (or scaling out), the process of adding additional servers to the Exchange environment. This is an important point, as most Exchange environments tend to grow over time, and there has previously been too little emphasis placed on creating an initial design that can be scaled gracefully.

Especially noteworthy is the chapter on Windows 2000 that covers the advantages and disadvantages of running Exchange 2000 on each platform. In addition, this chapter includes detailed coverage on using Exchange 2000 with Win2K Datacenter Server, information that has previously been difficult to locate.

The real meat of this book is the middle chapters, where the author exhaustively covers selecting, configuring and tuning the supporting hardware components for Exchange, including memory, storage, network and backup. But tuning is virtually worthless without being able to evaluate changes. That's where the next chapters come in. The author follows up with performance testing and monitoring using off-the-shelf tools such as LoadSim and Performance Monitor.

The book wraps up with a chapter devoted to "Best Practices" when designing your own Exchange 2000 implementation. In addition, the author includes a couple of sample configurations and explains how they can be scaled to support future growth.

Something that I don't recall seeing in many books is that the author not only provides summaries at the end of each chapter, but he also makes it a point to summarize some of the more complex topics before moving onto the next topic to make sure that you have a clear understanding of the important points. This is especially important in a book of this type, which contains so much detailed information.

While this book contains performance and configuration tuning tips that will apply to single-server environments of less than 1,000 users, that type of information for those environments can be found elsewhere. However, if you need to architect and manage a multiple-server Exchange environment supporting thousands of users, this book is a must-read.

About the Author

As a senior consultant Lee Scales, MCSE, CCA, has worked extensively with Windows NT/2000, Exchange and BackOffice. His specialty is designing Win2K infrastructures.

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