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Bob Johnston

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Current Config:
- KMS 6.6.2
- PowerMac G5, DP 2GHz, 4GB RAM, 300GB SATA Drive
- 160 Users (might grow to 200 users), mixture of Webmail, Entourage 2008 and Outlook 2007
- Sending and receiving attachments up to 25MB
- All are POP users, with a very few using IMAP

My goal is to start using KMS Exchange accounts for the majority of users. I'm thinking of a Mac Pro with RAID1 for OSX and RAID10 for the mailstore. According to the forum posts here, RAID10 and 15K SAS drives are highly recommended.

With this few users, would RAID5 with SATA drives be a reliable and viable option?

Keeping OS X separated from the mailstore a smart move?

What is someone doing with a similar environment?

If RAID10, what external hardware do people recommend?


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We have a very similar setup/environment as you describe:

-- 160 users, most using Apple Mail, iCal, iPhone; <10 Outlook, various webmail
-- 8-core Xeon 3.2GHz Mac Pro tower with 6GB RAM
-- 160GB Startup: Two 2.5" 10K RPM 160GB drives (in 3.5" sleds) configured as RAID 1 using Disk Utility and the internal SATA bus
-- 1.2TB Mail store: Eight 3.5" 15K RPM 300GB drives configured as RAID 1+0 using an Atto ExpressSAS 380 card in a no-name enclosure with two SAS cables (the drives/cables are set up so that if one cable were yanked, one entire stripe would still survive).

Fast as the wind, even with idiot clients and their 40,000 item inboxes with 50MB attachments. From what I read, this has everything to do with the RAID and nothing to do with the CPU speed or RAM, but I overbuilt it just so I wouldn't have to be back in it a year from now. One side note: We migrated from a dual-G5 to the Intel, and apparently you have to leave the SpamAssassin Bayesian database from the PPC side behind, as it will not work under Intel. With 160 users, it shouldn't take long for it to rebuild, should you ever migrate to Intel.

KMS doesn't like it if it can't find the store volume at launch, and will create a fake volume on the local drive using the same name (with 1, 2, etc. appended to it) until you reconnect it in the console, so you may have to watch out for that. On the other hand, I had a couple of power out events that caused the RAID to go away during normal operation and it recovered gracefully.

Speaking of the power out events, we found out the hard way that APC BackUPS units do not provide a "real" sine wave during power outages (according to APC) -- and the RAID enclosure's Taiwanese garage sale power supply apparently requires them -- when the backup battery kicked in, it dropped dead while the Mac Pro kept on running (this is with both plugged into the same UPS). We upgraded the BackUPS to a SmartUPS 1500 (which provides a real sine wave) and haven't had any issues since, and furthermore we will replace the enclosure with something more intelligent and with dual power supplies in the near future. Lesson learned.

Anyhow, if you're going for all out speed, RAID 1+0 is expensive but wins over RAID 5 because there is no computational overhead. You also will want true 1+0 (as opposed to 0+1) for the best fault tolerance. If you're made out of money and are feeling lucky, go SSD instead of 15K drives.

[Updated on: Sat, 04 July 2009 18:49]

My IT Indy

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I really like the enhance tech SAS raid enclosures. They can do RAID 10 easily with SAS or SATA drives. You do need a SAS-capable mini-sas connector on a raid card, the Highpoint 2640x4 will do it or the 4322 will as well.

I try and keep the OS away from the data storage "just in case".

Unless you're married to the Mac platform I would highly recommend getting a Linux box to run KMS on if that's all it's doing. You can save a boatload of money that way. The Mac Pro is massive overkill for KMS hosting, I have a client with 300 users on a 7 year old Dell 2650 with 15K SCSI drives and the performance is fantastic. Even with 5x150GB in RAID5.

My IT Indy
Kerio Certified Reseller and Hosted Provider
Bob Johnston

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Thanks for the info. I just have to think things through.
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