Tip

Exchange deployments get help from System Center Capacity Planner

How much is enough? That's the question you ask yourself when trying to figure out how much server will be enough when pricing a new computer for Microsoft Exchange.

Just throwing as much memory, disk space and processor speed as you can at the problem could be a waste. For one, if you're better served by reusing an existing computer with only minor modifications, you could save a lot of money (and possibly hassle).

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A new Microsoft tool called System Center Capacity Planner 2006, currently in beta, has been designed to address the "how much is enough?" question. It can figure out how much server power you need now, and what you'll need in the future given your current rate of growth.

Here are some of the subjects System Center Capacity Planner 2006 covers:

  • Infrastructure planning: Figure out what the best machine architecture would be given the size and nature of your Exchange environment.
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  • Hardware usage: Workload simulations, including network load, to determine if what you have now (or what you're planning to add) will meet your needs. This includes latency analysis -- for instance, given a certain setup, how long will it take for e-mails to go from a home office to a remote network?
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  • "What-if" analysis: Find out what might happen if you make changes in your setup, whether it's new hardware or software -- such as the possible impact of deploying Outlook Web Access for Exchange Server.
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  • Analyzing possible changes: If your company merges with another company, how might that affect the Exchange infrastructure you have now? What kind of future expansion would you need to put into effect?

System Center Capacity Planner requires The .NET Framework 2.0 Beta 2 to operate; it will run on Windows XP, Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 (except for Datacenter editions and Small Business Server 2003). Since it's still a beta product, it may undergo changes before the final release based on user feedback.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.

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Thanks for the nice writeup about our beta. We've now shipped the final RTM bits and we're available as part of a TechNet subscription. Our community presence is basically my blog plus a Web forum -- let me know if you have any questions!
—Jonathan Hardwick, software architect, System Center Capacity Planner

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This was first published in December 2005

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