A Cool Way To Extend Your Exchange Database Storage Without Any Downtime

A Cool Way To Extend Your Exchange Database Storage Without Any Downtime

Below is a live screen shoot of my additional 838 GB of additional storage space, after I managed to extend my existing Exchange database storage on one of my server in a Database Availability Group (DAG) configuration, without any down time.

Click Image To Enlarge

Advancing technology really has its advantages and has done so much for those of us in this industry.  Could you imagine trying to increase your storage without shutting down your servers?

No exchange system administrator likes dealing with system problems, but problems in data processing are normal.  Problems sometime are so complicated that it raises the stress level of any administrator to a level normally not experienced on a regular basis.

Could you imagine your boss, and many of the other employees “breading “down your neck, asking you when you are going to resolve the problem? If an Exchange administrator has no problems, then he or she will never expand their knowledge base. Problems as an exchange administrator, is evident.  In fact, as long as you are working in an Information technology department, you will experience problems from time to time.

This article will first briefly explain the problem that I had experience and how I went about resolving the issue without any interruptions to the Company.

 The Problem

We are presently moving our users from our older Exchange 2003 servers, to our new Microsoft Exchange 2010 servers.  Many of our users have already been moved to our exchange 2010 server, except for about six executives.

The existing size of the Exchange database store for the users who have not been moved to exchange 2010 servers is about 60 GB in size.  If I had to move the users that are still on our 2003 servers to our 2010 servers, then I would have definitely experience space issues.

I had to think of a way to increase my space on the 2010 Exchange servers, with minimal interruptions to the business.  Before I go any further in explaining how I increased my server space without any down time, let me tell you a little about our present configuration.

Exchange Server Configuration

My exchange configuration consists of two Exchange 2010 servers, and three Exchange 2003 servers. We have implemented High Availability, on our servers for fault tolerance, and redundancy. This redundancy is in the form of a DAG environment.  DAG is short for Database Availability Groups.

There are presently two Exchange 2010 servers setup in a DAG configuration. The mounted database is located on Server One, and the secondary or healthy database is located on Server Two. If Server one fails, then server two should automatically detect a failure and takes over.  This configuration is supported by Microsoft, so if I need assistance they normally assist me for a fee.

Both servers are HP DL 380 G6 servers, which made expanding the space much easier than using regular servers.  These servers came complete with additional expansion slots, to add additional drives, when needed.

The Resolution

As you can see we are also like many other companies still working in a mixed environment.  I am one of those administrators that came from a mixed environment, which included Exchange Server 5.5.

We never seem to be able to completely get rid of the mixed environments.  By the time you are almost off the older version, Microsoft always creates a newer version. I guess this is by design.

The first thing I did was checked the physical configuration of the server to see if I had addition slots available, to install new drives.  To my surprise, I had two slots available on both servers.

I guess I should have known this, if I had documented my server’s configurations.  Like so many administrators, I did not document our configuration. Documenting your server’s configuration, on initial install will save you many hours, when you are faced with problems.

The second thing I did was asked the purchasing agent to get me a quote on at least five 900 GB hard drives. The reason why I asked for a quote on the five drives, instead of four was to have a spare drive in the even I had a failure in the future.

Once the drives arrived, I installed them within the servers.  Two drives were installed into each server.  The reason I installed two drives in each system was to create a mirror for redundancy. If one drive failed, then the other drive would have immediately continued to work, until I was able to install my spare.

This was one of the reasons why we always purchased HP Servers.  These servers have so many build in fault tolerance, from the perspective of the hardware, instead of the software.  No need to depend on the operating system, to setup the fault tolerance.

The next thing I did was logged into each server and access the build in Raid utility, to configure the drives.

Click Image To Enlarge

If you look closely at my diagram above you will see two SAS drives that we had purchased to add to the server.  Here you will notice that the two drives are showing, but in the diagram at the beginning of this article, you would have noticed that only one drive is showing with the 838 GB.

The Array utility takes as many drives and configures them into one large drive. There is some overhead involves that is why you would have seen the 900 GB reduced to 838 GB.

Once I had configured my drives using this build in utility, they were ready for use.  My next step would have been to begin creating addition database stores using Exchange server, or Database Availability Group, for our Executives.

Once my additional stores were created then I would have begun the process of moving my Executives to the additional space.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article.  Please my other articles on Exchange server here on this site.

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