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blturner

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Well my migration to Kerio has not gone well. KOC and KOFF are a bit much for the old server I was trying to use as a bridge so I could retire the current exchange server and migrate onto it's hardware.

The boss called me and gave me a dressing down for not just getting a new server in the first place. So aside from getting in trouble I have been given a budget of $8000 to put in the best server possible for 30 mailboxes and about 200Gb of mail. Yes we have lots of huge accounts.

I have been looking for a user searchable archiving system to help stem the tide of email. But in any case the new server should be nothing short of amazing if I am going to keep my job. OK, I am not in that much trouble, but getting it right is important.

Clearly I have the budget to hit this thing with a sledge hammer. I have done a lot of research but I worry that I may be missing an approach that would yield better performance for the small number of mailboxes.

We will be using a lot of Outlook, and Searching all emails for any mention of a word has to happen fast. It is all about the user experience. Many users are remote.

I can't do linux, but everything else is on the table. Mac, SSD, Virtualization etc.

Brian
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blturner

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Looks like I am going to use 2 SSDs as a cache for a raid 10 configuration.
http://www.lsi.com/DistributionSystem/AssetDocument/MR_Cache Cade_PB_043010.pdf
I just have to find a server that incorporates all of this. It will take a minimum of 6 bays. I would rather keep the boot disk on a separate raid 1. And I would like to have a few spare bays for hot swaps and migrations. That means a 10 or 12 bay server.
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sfpete

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Interesting. Would love to hear back how this works out for you.

How big of a cache volume will you be using?

Would love to implement something like this for speed - but we have some servers mailstores going over 5TB now, and not sure if it's advantageous for applications like a mail server where there really is no frequently read data (or "hotspot" in their jargon) over any other data. Especially in applications like keyword searches.

Do you plan to have your ssd cache volume size be equal to or larger than your traditional/spinning drives volume?

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blturner

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I am thinking of sizing the SSDs to just about match our current mail store size. So 200GB That is much smaller than my regular HD capacity. This allows me to skip that next concern about everything possibly being accessed during keyword searches.

I am hoping, but don't know, that the indexes are going to be the hot areas and 200GB should hold all of them forever. But the indexes might all be in ram anyway. Some of my users seldom do keyword searches other do them everyday. I think there will be some self-sorting in that regard.

It is also possible that indexes that get read to ram all the time would not even take up space on the SSD cache because they appear to be seldom accessed. But I doubt that.

I don't even know if Kerio will do a full mailbox keyword search on the server. That really could be a stumbling block for me. If so I will end up back with Exchange 2007 by default. Bummer.
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elias

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blturner wrote on Fri, 08 October 2010 09:20
Looks like I am going to use 2 SSDs as a cache for a raid 10 configuration.
http://www.lsi.com/DistributionSystem/AssetDocument/MR_Cache Cade_PB_043010.pdf

I too have been intrigued by these setups. I didn't know LSI made one of these, but I've been thinking about trying Adaptec's MaxIQ system (not necessarily for Kerio though). You might check that one out as well.

Quote:
I don't even know if Kerio will do a full mailbox keyword search on the server. That really could be a stumbling block for me. If so I will end up back with Exchange 2007 by default. Bummer.

Kerio doesn't do fulltext searching on the server. This has been one of the weak points in the product for a long time and searching on the client can be brutal as a result. If this is going to be an issue for you, you'll want to spend some time thinking about your searching options before worrying about your hardware config.

-Elias
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blturner

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I looked at the MaxIQ. It only does SATA 3.0 Gb/s. I also could not find a rack mount server vendor that could help me spec the server with that in it. Adaptec's web site is far better than LSI but I don't have much experience with either of them.

The one thing the MaxIQ seems to do that the LSI won't is a mixed raid 1 with one rotating drive and one SSD. That lets it read from the fast SSD and have the rotating disk there for write reliability and lower cost. Interesting configuration.

[Updated on: Fri, 08 October 2010 20:16]

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id t

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My 2c:

forget about SSD, go for fast SAS (4x 15k 600GB, about 400€ each). If you dare, separate storage (use a simple chassis, RAID and motherboard and install OpenFiler as iSCSI/NFS server) and install ESXi on two other boxes and have FT/HA setup in vmware (requires vSphere license and a total of three boxes, but it's 99.99% uptime and crazy fast).

I have Kerio on XServe and storage on SAN over FC, Promise box with SAS disks (installing as I write).
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blturner

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id t: My first thought reading your post was that a SAN would blow through $8k pretty fast. Second was that I always have trouble figuring out how much any complete solution from vmware costs. Their marketing and pricing just infuriates me.

Then I wondered what is this OpenFiler thing? Hey that might make a lot of sense here. I am researching it now. I would like to use an iSCSI appliance. Just had never found anything that had good price/performance.

I also think that I will be able to reuse the existing production Exchange server as the backup server after I get migrated into Kerio. That brings your suggestion into the $8k budget without stepping down from top end performance.
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blturner

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OK, Openfiler looks pretty cool. But 1 Gb ethernet can't beat 3 Gb SATA or SAS. Sure you can do 10 Gb ethernet, but you can do 6 Gb SAS as well. And yes bandwidth is less than half the picture.

However I can't escape the conclusion that a comparable performance remote storage solution will cost far more than local storage. I guess I need more convincing.

Yes, it gives you high availability (HA) and that is hard to get with local storage. But my top goal is prompt disaster recovery and high performance. And I think calling HA good disaster recovery is like calling RAID good backup. There is more to it. I think a service provider would want HA.

Also, I am not sure that 3 boxes would get me Fault Tolerance. The storage server has a couple of single points of failure. I think it takes 4 boxes to get all the way to FT/HA. For a small server closet like ours I think I would be better with just getting 2 identical servers and doing hourly mirroring to local storage. As long a VMware will let me do this with dissimilar hardware I have a pretty good disaster recovery plan. Best to put that second server someplace else.

(Edited Gigabits vs bytes)

[Updated on: Sun, 10 October 2010 19:48]

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marook

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Ok, 30 users with 200GB mail - or you kidding??? That is a SMALL setup!

You can run that on a Mac mini Server without it making a sweet!

We run 400 users with about 500GB of mail, most of them via IMAP+iCal+iPhones!
That's on one XServe on 7500RPM SATA drives in RAID1
CPU is about 5-10%, disk activity is also fine.

You should worry more about features for your clients!

Regards,

Jakob Peterhänsel
Consultant - Humac A/S

Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP)
Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC)
AppleSeed/CQF member since 1998
Kerio Messaging Partner
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blturner

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marook,
Yes I know that it is a small setup. I should have been able to throw it onto any old server I had lying around. I did that and it was way slow. It seems that KOC and KOFF are dramatically more demanding. Basically Outlook is a pig. It could also be that I have something else wrong. I shut off the antivirus etc. But I really need a new server for a number of reasons.

So it looks like I am going with a VMware capable machine. Using a Cachecade enabled LSI raid card. There may be some compatibility issues with this so I am just starting out with the free hypervisor testing before I take the server into production.
If it goes well I will install a VM with Openfiler. The idea is to trend toward a hardware independent infrastructure for better disaster recovery, performance and availability.
I may also try a linux install for Kerio on a test VM.
If the server can be coaxed into using it's Ram as a proper disk cache then the SSDs will be redundant.
The server will have a pair of Intel X5660 processors. and 24 Gb of ram.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Let me know if you would like to hear how it goes.
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BudDurland

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blturner wrote on Mon, 11 October 2010 23:47
I should have been able to throw it onto any old server I had lying around. I did that and it was way slow. It seems that KOC and KOFF are dramatically more demanding. Basically Outlook is a pig.


That's basically been my experience. Outlook on my laptop (using either the KOC or KOFF), compared to Thunderbird 3.x with Lightning on my desktop. Granted, there's a performance difference between the two client machines, but I was measuring the impact on the server (disk i/o's, CPU use, etc). Fr things like searching sorting, Outlook pounded the server much harder than t-bird. Sorting a big mail store by subject brought the server to it's knees.

Good is better than evil because it's nicer
--Mammy Yokum
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blturner

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Well the verdict on the new server is that it did not help much. It made web client searches and sorts twice as fast. For an inbox that had about 10,000 items it went from 3.5 to 1.75 seconds. Not much difference becasue it was not that slow. Most of the speed difference was disk access as everyone has said many times in this forum.

KOFF was another matter. It barely helped at all. Sorting by sender takes about 45 seconds on that same mailbox. The client was a typical laptop with 2 gig of ram and a dual core processor. The sort is only 3 or so seconds the second time you do it so clearly it is reading a lot from disk and caching it. You can hear the disk thrashing as it does the sort. Searches are worse, when we passed 1.5 minutes I quit timing it. I did not test KOC as we need some of the KOFF features. I seems that KOFF needs a powerful workstation. I can't upgrade all the workstations and even if I did, I think that perfomance would still be slower than Outlook with Exchange. If I could throw out Outlook I think all would be fine.

The boss came down on me for this all taking so long and I have now been instructed to just put in the latest Exchange version. I was planning on testing Zimbra but can't even do that now.

Migrating from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 looks to be more work and pitfalls than migrating to Kerio.

If I would have set out from day one to get rid of Outlook first and then deal with the server second I might have made it away from Exchange.

Brian
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nhoague

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I am very surprised to hear this! My experience, running a hosted services company ... we have 500 users, 2 TB so far in mail store, 99% of our customers are Outlook / KOFF. A ton of iphones and Blackberrys with BES, and we have almost 0 performance problems. What you need to do is run a dedicated server on Ubuntu. We have tested Kerio Connect with Windows / Ubuntu. Well, I'll let you guess who wins. Smile

On Ubuntu in the heat of the day we could have a couple hundred active connections, our CPU never passes .05 out of 8 cores and we have 32 GB RAM. Overkill I know, but it was fun. Furthermore, I know of a few users with 10k+ items in their Inbox and sorting (sure it takes a couple seconds) but they understand that with a INBOX with that many items it has to process something! That is all done client side. I don't understand why your server is using so much IO when the client is sorting.

I hate to see someone revert to (ack) Exchange.
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blturner

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Yes, I hate going back to exchange as well. I didn't test that the server was using a lot of IO during sorts. Just that was the biggest difference between the first test server and the new one. Also sorts go real fast if you ask it to do the same sort twice. That would indicate that the initial delay was from HD seek times as most of the other delays don't get a lot faster with a repeated operation. I wanted to try Ubuntu. I even downloaded the Kerio appliance and fired it up in VMware on the new server. It did not have a big enough drive to even import one of our large mailboxes for testing. I added a second drive in VMware and got stuck when I did not know how to format and mount the newly assigned drive. I guess the question to ask here is how long does it take to sort 10k messages by sender in Outlook with KOFF on what kind of hardware? Elsewhere in the forum I saw a recommendation to keep the inbox under 1K messages. That is less than 2 weeks of messages and just is not practical for how the boss uses his email. Thanks for the input.
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