Microsoft is to offer assistance to companies looking to work out their storage needs. The company has prepared for the forthcoming release of Data Protection Manager 2007 by launching a free calculator to help assess storage layouts.

The calculator focuses on outlining the storage-capacity requirements based on a set of parameters input into the tool, which was built using Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet application.

Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 is backup software that is a component of Microsoft's System Center family of management products. The first version of the calculator focuses on backup scenarios for Exchange 2007 only. Microsoft says future releases may include other technologies. Data Protection Manager 2007, which is slated for general availability in late November or early December, also supports SQL Server, SharePoint and Virtual Server 2005 R2.

The calculator was developed using sizing recommendations outlined in a series of Microsoft whitepapers and best practices guidelines. The calculator's output, which does not make any recommendations on storage design, is culled from inputs users make in two sections, Input and DPM ExBackup Requirements.

In the Input section, users enter information relevant to their design, including configurations for Exchange Server and the DPM Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) backup.

The Exchange Server configuration inputs include information such as the number of Exchange mailbox servers, the number of databases each server uses and the average transaction-log generation rate per storage group per day.

The VSS inputs include backup rate, restore rate, VSS backup frequency and retention range. The output, or Results Pane, gives users backup, backup window and DPM server configuration requirements.

The backup includes number of databases and backup frequency. The backup window's requirements show the amount of time it will take to back up a single storage group via an Express Full backup and the time required for an incremental synchronisation for a single storage group. The DPM server configuration results show the number of recommended DPM servers needed, the number of processor cores needed per DPM server, and RAM and virtual memory configurations.

The tool also gives space requirements that outline the replica size and recovery-point volume size for each storage group on an Exchange mailbox server. It also provides configuration data on protected groups, including the synchronisation frequency for each protected group, the retention range, and the express full-backup schedule.

The calculator is built on Excel 2007 formats, but users with XP and 2003 versions of the application can install a compatibility pack.