Has anyone virtualized SBS 2008 using ESXi?

Posted on 2009-02-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I'd like to provide this solution to a client and I'd like to hear some real world experiences.

Also, what do you use for backup of your VM's?

Question by:fredimac
    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    I know several people that have done this succesfully, just make sure your hardware has Intel VT to support 64 bit.  

    For backups they use Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery to backup to a network share by using imaging.  The image can then be used by vmware converter to restore back to a virtual machine or via symantec restore anywhere to restore to physical hardware.  There is also a GRO agent for the backup product that allows it to go into the image and pull emails from the mail store if they need to be restored individually.
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    I can run ESXi on a couple of our boxes, but only the host is 64-bit.  All guests are 32-bit.  (No Intel VT).

    So, I'm considering running SBS2008 as the host.  I'll dodge the arrows and admonitions...but has anyone else tried it?
    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    you can't run sbs2008 as the host for ESXi.  VMWare Server perhaps but I wouldn't recommend vmware server on a domain controller.  If you're running sbs 2008 with exchange 2007 you will only have the capability to run on physical hardware with EMT64 unless it has Intel VT. Every customer that has tried running vmware server on a domain controller has experienced once issue or another with DNS, etc..
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    That's what I for VMWare Server.

    Yes...I've heard it's a bad idea to run VMWare on a DC...but it's OK to run a DC on VMWare.
    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    yes, it's ok to run a DC on VMWare. The only issues occur when you have multiple DCs and you convert one to virtual.  If you're standing up a brand new DC in a virtual environment it's ok.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Hey,  This has gotten off topic from my question!!!

    Questions: :  Can it be done with ESXi and if so, what do I need to get in terms of software?

    Here's the environment I'd like to set up: :
    1 - Hardware DC
    1-  Dell 2950 64bit system running: SBS 2008 & Windows Server 2008 in VM's.
    1 - Hardware Server 2003 for storage of VM Backups for quick restore from disk.

    Thanks in Advance,

    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    >Hey,  This has gotten off topic from my question!!!
    Sorry.  I thought it was answered in the very first post.  Yes.

    Real-world experience: none. Still in discovery phase.
    Backup software: Acronis True Image Enterprise Server.  Investigating their new Exchange backup product.

    >Questions: :  Can it be done with ESXi

    Page 42 shows SBS 2008 supported on VMWare ESX (which is the same as ESXi) 3.5u3

    > and if so, what do I need to get in terms of software?

    ESXi must can be pre-installed on compatible hardware:
    Scroll down to "Can I buy VMware ESXi preinstalled on servers?"
    Installation on other servers may work, but may not be supported.

    Get the software here:

    As for the rest, you'll need your own licenses for Server 2008 (x2), SBS 2008 (x1), Server 2003 (x1).  Plus your backup software of choice.

    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Excellent info.

    Do you know exactly what I should buy in terms of support / management tools.

    I'm told I need to purchase the management console and VCB by other sources.


    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    What tools can I use to manage my free VMware ESXi license?
    VMware recommends using VMware Infrastructure Client (VI Client) to manage VMware ESXi. You may also query the VMware ESXi host with RCLI.  Note that the free version of VMware ESXi does not allow any configuration changes for the VMware ESXi host through the RCLI.  Further, managing a VMware ESXi host with VMware vCenter Server requires a VMware vCenter Server Agent for each host, only available with the purchase of a VMware Infrastructure license (Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise).

    The VI client (Windows-based) is free.  Remote Command Line Interface can be accessed directly or with 3rd-party tools, but for ESXi, you can't make config changes.

    Licensing for the paid tools can be mixed/added with your existing VMWare stuff (see your rep).  If you're not a VMWare shop, see the "or" proposition that they came up with.

    For $995:

    Your kit includes:
    VMware vCenter Server Foundation
    VMware vCenter Agents for 3 hosts (limited for use with 3 ESXi hosts)
    1 Year software subscription

    LVL 1

    Accepted Solution


    I know exactly what you are trying to accomplish.
    I am actually running this exact type of conversion right now, just on a PE2900.
    Here are the following ways I am getting this done:
    First I will give you my scenario...
    I have PE2900 running 2008 sbs premium
    2 - Guest VM using hyper-v
    I wanted to convert all to ESXi, but didn't want to lose my VMs or 2008sbs...
    First, you need 2 extra PCs or Servers; they don't have to be anything special....
    One of the computers will be used to run the conversion (the middle man)
    The server/pc will run XP Pro, and a demo of VMware Workstation.
    It gets a little interesting here, so follow below.
    1.) power up your servers, make sure they are static IPs and you have Admin access.
    2.) setup and install on your middle man PC, running the VMconverter.. Make sure its on domain
    3.) do the same for the VMworkstation and make sure its also in domain /admin environment
    4.) open the converter on the middle man PC, and first start with your VMs w/ hyper-v
    5.) tell the converter to convert a physical server to virtual, but point it to a VMware workstation
    6.) on your workstation running VMworkstation, make sure you setup a shared folder with full NTFS permissions to read and write.
    7.) back on your middle man PC, type in your shared path to the VMworkstation where you want the VM conversion to be dumped.
    8.) Click next and it will prompt you about installing the conversion software, tell it to leave the software installed and that you will uninstall it later.
    9.) make sure to change the disk sizes accordingly, so your not sitting there all day to convert data that is not really data... example: if your VM has a 60gb C: partition, click the drop down when resizing, and it will state a minimum amount of space you can choose. This would be a good time to tell it to only use the minimum as you can resize once you have converted over.
    10.) change the Ram and CPUs to a minimum (since the VMworkstation is just a temp, you don't need to worry about final settings, as you are moving it to an esxi data store)
    11.) Make sure in the advanced you choose to install the VMware tools and to not sync settings (unless you are testing and want to try this in production environment)
    12.) On network, I choose to not connect on start up, as it will eff things up since it will be duplicated on the network. Once done, it will give you a chance to shut down your VM guest that you just converted and then turn on the VMworkstation's clone.

    13.) Convert!.
    I would highly recommend to use GB switches, and for lots of data, figure a weekend or evening in production environment for maximum speed. I just converted 2 Hyper-V servers in about 3 hours, 75gb.
    Once you have done this for both or all your Hyper-v VM's, now you need to do the same for  the SBS2008 pre/standard.
    I am in the process of doing this right now (today), so I will let you know how this is working for the SBS 2008&

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