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Exchange Clustering

Does Unity 2.4.0.x work with Exchange 5.5 clusters?<br><br>

6 REPLIES
Anonymous
N/A

Re: Exchange Clustering

We do not support Unity as a part of the Exchange cluster nor have we tested Unity as a member of a clustered site.

Anonymous
N/A

Re: Exchange Clustering

Why not? OK, maybe it will help if I clarify my question. I know that you have plans to more automate a Unity fail over solution with Unity Enterprise 2.4.5 primarily with a change on where you store your voice prompts and recordings. So, I guess what I'm asking is let's say that I have two Unity servers, and I want to join an existing Exchange 5.5 clustered site (I don't want to cluster my Unity servers). I would think that I could join that
Exchange clustered site and Unity would not know the difference. I would like to offer this as a solution to my enterprise customers with assurances that Active Voice has tested joining an Exchange 5.5 clustered site without issue.

Anonymous
N/A

Re: Exchange Clustering

Technically you are correct, Unity shouldn't know the difference. That said, we have not load tested and approved this configuration and I certainly can't give you assurances that you wont run into problems. The short story is if you run into problems specific to your clustering interaction, our support folks are not going to be able to help you with them.

We do have sites out there using Unity in a clustered environement but we don't know much about their traffic patterns and usage scenarios, possilbe performance problems under heavy loads etc... One of them did note an odd delay in creating new users via the SA. It took several minutes for the new Exchange user to show up which is not the case in a "normal" Exchange environment.

This is on the list of stuff to be tested, but lets be clear... it's a LONG list of items to be tested. This is a fairly time consuming and resource intensive process and clustering is not a trivial configuration to work with. As always, it's a good idea to ping "features@activevoice.com" and let them know you'd like to see us spend some resources approving this configuration. The marketing guys monitor that box and they dictate development priorities.


Jeff Lindborg
Unity Product Architect
Active Voice
jlindborg@activevoice.com
http://members.home.net/jlindborg

Anonymous
N/A

Re: Exchange Clustering

I guess I'm confused. This does not seem like a feature to me, but a simple request of testing. I'm not trying to cluster the Unity server; I just want assurances that joining a clustered site would work. To compete in an Enterprise environment, one needs these types of solutions with assurances. The name of the product is Unity Enterprise, and I assume Active Voice wishes to compete in the enterprise customer environment; therefore, as a company are they then not bound to test such scenarios, offer assurances, and support? I'm not trying to beat you up or your company -- this just seems like common sense to me.

Anonymous
N/A

Re: Exchange Clustering

I understand your frustration and I understand that on the surface this really seems like it should only take someone a half a day to hook up and take for a quick test drive before giving it the thumbs up.

But you must understand "simply testing a configuration" like this is not quick or simple. It takes a LOT of resources to load and stress test all the configurations folks want to support. You want assurances from us that we know this works and works well and you want us to help you if you run into trouble, well... that takes a lot of testing here. That's very time and resource intensive stuff to do. Something like testing a clustered server environment is not like approving a new service pack… we’re not going to just run an Application Regression test and some install/upgrades and call it good, there’s a lot more involved.

Right now QA's plate is full with a staggering number of configurations that include Lotus, Exchange 2000, Win2K (mixed vs. native mode), Fax (on box and off box), alternate TTS engines (separately and together), various hardware platforms, many voice cards from several vendors, IP solutions etc... etc... these all need to be tested in every configuration you see offered on the Product Configuration document because, like you, everyone wants assurances what they order is going to work right. That's hundreds of possible combinations. We need to determine how many users can be supported with how many ports and which features can be mixed on what hardware so we can put up the PCD and allow folks to confidently order a setup we know will work and work well under real world load conditions.

With a clustered Exchange server we will be pulling messages from folk’s inboxes from that cluster. We know there’s additional overhead involved in this. We also know there’s a rather large delay creating new users that are homed in one of the servers in the cluster. There’s very likely negative impacts on performance in that environment and I’m guessing it will require it’s own column in the PCD with different requirements and port/user limits to accommodate it. Further, we know there’s issues with Outlook when one of the Exchange servers in the cluster goes down (i.e. it’s not entirely transparent in all cases). This could spell trouble for us since we’re logged into everyone’s mailbox (monitoring changes for MWI and notification events) in much the same way that Outlook is. We’d need to try this out and see what happens and investigate work arounds if it did cause problems.

Doing a proper load/stress battery on such a new configuration will take a considerable amount of time, dialtone (we need to ram hundreds of calls an hour into a system for extended periods of time and then measure the conversation performance during that load), hardware and people resources. It’s expensive even if it seems like a simple thing to do on the surface.

With a limited set of resources and a big list of things to test, we have to prioritize just like everyone else. If the marketing folks tell us testing a clustered server environment is more important that some of the other things higher on the list, we’ll move it up and get it done. You’re best move is to hit the marketing guys with your request and see if they’ll move something out of the way for this to happen.


Jeff Lindborg
Unity Product Architect
Active Voice
jlindborg@activevoice.com
http://members.home.net/jlindborg

Anonymous
N/A

Re: Exchange Clustering

I appreciate your response, and the thoroughness of your comments. I can also appreciate the time it takes to test all of this.

I suspect Active Voice may not have been aware how much they were taking on when they decided to be fully integrated with Exchange. I'm probably preaching to the choir when I say, Active Voice ought to have the resources to test all Enterprise requirements with its ties to Exchange.

But thanks again for your response. Personally, I can't say I'd recommend Unity to my Enterprise Exchange Clustered environments (at least not at this time).

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