By Richard R. Lee
At the recent Microsoft Enterprise 2000 conference, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), McDATA and Microsoft announced a "Trusted Solution Platform" designed to overcome a litany of problems associated with Microsoft Exchange (V5.5) and SQL Server in large enterprise environments.
The storage area network (SAN) configuration is pre-tested and validated on Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and comprises a suite of hardware, software, and professional support services. The configuration combines HDS's Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 disk array (including software), with McDATA's ED-5000 director and Windows 2000 Advanced Server to create a RAS (reliability, availability and scalability) solution for BackOffice applications. Microsoft will support the entire configuration.
According to Chris Henderson, vice president of high availability solutions at HDS, "it is a logical follow-on to many companies' server consolidation endeavors, where they now want to consolidate applications."
Exchange 5.5 users can now scale their deployments to as many as 5,000 users per server, according to Microsoft officials. The configuration can also support the live backup of SQL Server environments at more than 300GBs per hour (compared to about 50GBs per hour previously). These increases in scalability are accompanied by improvements in reliability and availability via the use of HDS' "Shadow Image" mirroring techniques. Mirroring overcomes Exchange's one-LUN limitation, while creating shadow copies in the background, allowing for fast re-syncs and file recoveries.
The Trusted Solution Platform can be used to consolidate applications while performing technology shifts. Example: migrating from Windows NT and its domain structure to Windows 2000 with Active Directory, and then migrating from MS Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 with no interruptions in service to end-users (via the MS Windows Cluster Service "rolling upgrade" feature). This eliminates the continuous cycle of "software churn" that most enterprises experience.
In this new series of certified solutions, Microsoft actually takes the role of principal support provider and is responsible for first line of defense in respect to support calls. This is a first for Microsoft and its professional services organization, which will be backed up by both HDS and McDATA for calls requiring more resources.