4/2: The post below was posted as an April fools joke :)
by Boris Lokhvitsky
In the modern messaging world, there is a clear and apparent trend for increasing volume of messaging data communicated, accumulated and stored in Microsoft Exchange mailboxes. Growing mailbox capacity expedites adoption for large 6TB and 8TB hard drives used in the storage solutions for Microsoft Exchange. This also creates significant challenges for database replication, which is a cornerstone technology providing data redundancy and high availability to Exchange mailboxes. Despite the high bandwidth networks becoming more and more common for most customers, even 10 Gbps networks have challenges processing bandwidth intensive Exchange database replication and indexing.
It is an easy though not obvious math exercise to realize that the process of offline data shipping using hard drives as a carrier is capable to achieve much higher data throughput than any currently available network technologies can provide. For example, shipping just 1,000 8TB hard drives across the United States using UPS service takes only 5 business days (and could be further expedited using rush delivery option), which translates into the bandwidth of ~150 Gbps – far exceeding the capability of the most advanced WAN links available today!
Inspired by this consideration, Microsoft Exchange team started working to implement drive shipping as the new data replication technology. As you know, we already work on implementing drive shipping in Office 365 as an efficient mechanism to import PST files, which is provided as part of Azure Import Export Service:
Today, we are happy to announce that in the upcoming Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 we will completely switch to the drive shipping technology. It will replace transaction log shipping currently used in Exchange DAGs for database replication. New replication process will be still controlled by Microsoft Exchange Replication service, which is completely reworked and now integrated with U.S. Postal Service (via postal.dll component) and with leading courier delivery services such as FedEx and UPS.
Only 3.5 inch SATA II/III hard drives are currently supported for use with the drive shipping service. Hard drives larger than 8TB are not supported. For import jobs, only the first data volume on the drive will be processed. The data volume must be formatted with NTFS.
Service agreement with existing Office 365 customers will include necessary supply of the drives required for drive shipping. For the on premises customers, Enterprise license for Exchange 2016 will include one-year service agreement with leading U.S. courier delivery services – FedEx and UPS.
Our product roadmap does not stop there. Microsoft is currently working to implement the new drive shipping transport protocols based on drone delivery. If successful, the drone delivery architecture might also replace the outdated and inefficient SMTP protocol currently still being used for e-mail transmission.
We hope that all customers realize the benefits and advantages of the new drive shipping technology and start enjoying new functionality coming in Exchange Server 2016!
by Boris Lokhvitsky
April 1, 2015