I recently had a few of my consultants attend training on the upcoming release of Microsoft Exchange. They came back very impressed (not surprising), but what they told me actually impressed me a lot (fairly surprising). Over the next few weeks I plan on highlighting a few of the key feature enhancements. Now that Exchange 2010 is in beta and a lot of the performance metrics are known, it's time to discuss them.
Today's featured improvement, and frankly the one that really caught me by surprise, is the MASSIVE improvement in I/O. Microsoft is claiming up to 50% better IOPS than Exchange 2007, and 70% better than Exchange 2003. This was always the killer for Exchange. In the past 5 years, no one has had their Exchange server bump up against the limitations of CPU or RAM. You always ran into disk I/O problems long before you pegged your processors. In fact, many of our optimization exercises focused solely on that. Adding spindles, spreading the data over the array or several arrays, tweaking the controller, it was all to be able to get more I/O (and hence, users) on a server. Sadly, we'd routinely see servers having performance issues due to I/O thrashing while the processor was humming along at about 10% utilization and RAM was in the 20% range. Obviously, there was a lot of headroom available, but it just couldn't be utilized. Virtualization wasn't really an option because you'd worsen the I/O issues, as well as run into the fact that a virtualized Exchange environment wasn't technically supported by Microsoft. Now with 64 bit hardware in play, the CPU and RAM limit is far greater than it ever was. If the disk I/O issues are mostly eliminated, what would prevent you from consolidating 2, 4, 6, or more Exchange servers onto a single server? Think of the savings you'd get in power, space, cooling, and everything that goes along with running a server. You could actually utilize your servers to their full potential. Green IT through software improvements. It's never been easier to go green.
Please tell me what you think. I know it is only a beta, but are you getting ready for deploying Exchange 20010 shortly after it is released in Q4? I truly feel that Exchange 2010 could completely alter the way that companies architect their Exchange infrastructure.