From the Microsoft website: “Storage design is a critical piece of a successful Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Mailbox server role deployment. Multiple requirements such as storage performance, capacity, manageability, and cost must all be considered to achieve the optimal storage design for Exchange 2010.”


Can you seriously get storage that is optimally balanced for all of the above?

Let’s look at each of these dimensions individually.

PERFORMANCE: Exchange typically places stringent demands around performance.  Traditional storage wisdom requires customers to throw a lot of spindles to get the requisite IOPS – in certain instances, customers have been known to short stroke the disks sacrificing capacity for performance.

The number of mailboxes supported per drive thus becomes a valid metric to assess the performance and capacity storage offers for Exchange. Following graph compares Nimble against the closest competitors. It is worth noting that some of these competitor configurations are a hybrid of disk and flash, similar to Nimble.


There is yet another behavior unique to Exchange that determines performance needs, which is that the working dataset changes frequently. Traditional tiered hybrid architectures are simply unable to keep pace. What is needed is the ability to respond to changing datasets in a matter of milliseconds.


CAPACITY: Nimble compression delivers approximately a 2 for 1 savings. This is no idle claim and is based on data collected from several hundred installed systems. Combined with the use of inexpensive high capacity drives, the $/GB metric becomes quite attractive.

MANAGEABILITY: Pre-configured application profiles take the guesswork out of tuning the array for maximum performance as well as setting protection policies for Exchange databases and logs.

DATA PROTECTION: While the newly introduced Database Availability Group feature provides high availability, customers still need to safeguard against data corruption. Inexpensive snapshots backing up the database address this need very effectively.

Exchange 2010 offers some very sophisticated  “single item” recovery capabilities without the complexity of added software. Combine this with Nimble’s storage that is highly optimized not just for $/IOPS but also $/GB. Presto! Customers can retain snapshot copies for up to 120 days cost-effectively and restore from those painlessly and instantaneously without having to go to an archival device.

Too good to be true? Read for yourself what Nimble customers have to say about their experiences running Exchange.

Ron Kanter, Berkeley Research Group: Using Nimble Storage for Exchange 2010
Lucas Clara, Foster Pepper PLLC: Using Exchange on Nimble