Converged Infrastructure

Robots that pour your beer…and when it’s worth getting help with Microsoft Exchange

By Evan Morris - Senior Engineer, HP Enterprise Group


Researchers at Cornell University’s Personal Robotics Lab have programmed a robot that can predict what you’re about to do by using a video database, allowing the robot to assist with basic tasks like opening the refrigerator and yes, even pouring you a beer.  Once the robot has the data, it determines what to do based on what it anticipates the person it is monitoring will do next. 


I must reluctantly say there may be more important things I need help with than a beer fetching robot.  WIth advanced technology, there are areas where expert assistance is not only helpful but necessary.  Knowing when it’s worth investing the time and resources to do something yourself versus seeking help from an outside party can often be the difference between success and failure. 


The same holds true when looking at selecting the right architecture and designing the platform you use to support any application.   Microsoft Exchange is no different.  There are a variety of architectures you can employ and even more parameters you need to understand before you start designing the infrastructure to support Microsoft Exchange.  Having an appliance is great when the design meets all your needs but more often than not some customization for your environment will be needed.  In those cases a Reference Architecture may be the answer.


What is a Reference Architecture (RA)?   First, it should be more than just a basic topology that looks at a handful of parameters to build out some configuration that may or may not work.  Instead it should take into account best practice recommendations from the ISV (in this case Microsoft), best practices with regards to infrastructure, a robust set of test tools that simulate a typical workload, and an extensive set of parameters that you would need to provide. 


From this you would get to an RA that provides a detailed configuration and bill of materials.   Even then this isn’t validated unless you set it up and test it in a lab, which is what HP does with our Reference Architectures.  From start to finish the process on average takes about 6 weeks of engineering time.  This includes time to design, set up, test, adjust, and record the results.


Every vendor out there provides sample topologies that map to applications don’t they?  Yes, but the extent to which those same topologies are tested and fully validated is another story. 


I’ll be presenting at HP Discover, Session TB1660, “Deployment strategies for Microsoft Exchange: virtualized, dedicated or hosted?”  It’s a great opportunity to see the different options you have for Exchange and to ask questions about the new Reference Architecture for Exchange 2010 and the ProLiant SL4540.


What next?

Find out more about the new Reference Architecture

Register for HP Discover 2013


Evan Morris - BIO

Evan Morris is a Senior Engineer with HP’s Alliances, Performance and Solutions (APS) team within the Enterprise Group.  He has worked as an Exchange Consultant outside of HP as well as within HP’s APS team since first getting his MCSE in 1997.  He’s had extensive experience with Exchange deployments and migrations from older, legacy email applications like MSMail, Lotus Notes, etc.  Evan also helped design HP’s Exchange Sizer, a critical sizing and configuration tool used by HP Solution Architects and HP Channel Partners   More recently, Evan managed the testing of the new HP ProLiant SL4500 line with Exchange 2010 and 2013, which resulted in the publishing of three Recommended Configurations, an ESRP, and two Reference Architecture documents (one for each version of Exchange). 

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