Advice about virtualising Exchange 2007, SQL Server 2005 and BES

I had a stable Windows 2003 64bit server running Exchange 2007 and SQL Server 2005 or a Dell 2900 server

Due to the RIM withdrawing the mail connector, we were force to move to BES Express for forwarding our emails to our blackberries

I should point out that we are a small business with only 5 mailboxes and two blackberries

Because BES won't install on a 64bit OS, I installed Microsoft Virtual Server

I got the configuration up and running but every couple of days either the VM crashes with a stop error or the Exchange Information store service stops. I can't see any erros in the event log relating to the service stop

I'm thinking that I should virtualise Exchange Server, SQL Server and BES on separate VMs using VMWare ESX or 3i

I am a novice regarding VMWare but from what I have read I would prefer to use 3i however it does not seem to support the Dell 2900?

Questions:
1) Has enyone encountered similar problems with BES causing Exhange services to stop?

2) Does my proposed virtualisation strategy sound sensible given how few mailboxes/ blackberries we have?

3) Am I right in thinking that VMWare 3i won't install on a Dell 2900?

4)If instead I install ESX 3.5, which does seem to be supported, what are the disadvantages?

5)What ESX 3.5 install on bare metal?
Paul197466Asked:
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DaSpugCommented:
Hi Paul,
We run here a virtualised Exchange Server 2007 Standard and SQL 2005 machines and they run perfectly using VMWare Server 1.0.4 (server replaced GSX and is also free) on IBM x3650 servers. Our only issue is that Exchange 2007 is very memory intensive and we can't give the machine more than 3600MB RAM. Although the machine is stable and we have many more users accessing it than you will have accessing yours. All of our physical machines run CentOS 5 (it saves an extra 64bit Windows license this way).

What you are suggesting should be ok, although I'm not sure whether 3i will run on your server, although products like VMWare Server should run perfectly.

I've never seend BES kill Exchange but then I've never seen BES in Virtual Server, only in VMWare, what you're suggesting is a sensible solution, however, if you buy Vmware infrastructure it'd probably be cheaper to buy a second server and install BES on that...!!
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Paul197466Author Commented:
Many thanks, most helpful

Please forgive my ignorance but does WMWare server run on bare metal or does it require a host OS?

I assume with VMWare you can run a mixture of 64bit and 32bit guest OSs on a 64bit server

I take your point about buying an additional server and that was out first thought but space and heat are issues plus it's time we got our feet wet with virualising!
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DaSpugCommented:
Hi Paul,
VMWare Server will run on an OS (that's why we chose Linux as again, it's free and saved us on licensing).

You can run a mixture or 64bit and 32bit machines in VMWare on a 64bit physical host machine.

Space is always an issue - just remember that when virtualising you always need more RAM. Make sure you install Exchange 2007 SP1 as it does seem to improve performance on physical machines so it can only do some good in a virtual envirnment (although I've not seen SP1 in a virtual environment yet). There is a 3.6GB RAM limit with VMWare server and MS do recommend 4Gb minimum for Exchange 2007 so do realise that you could have some performance issues...
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Paul197466Author Commented:
Many thanks for your help
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