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What is the best disk configuration for virtualising Exchange 2010

We are looking to migrate our Exchange 2003 server to Exchange 2010. I am planning on getting 2 servers and a SAN to run Exchange 2010 (plus possibly move our BES and a couple of other servers to a virtualised environment depending on the performance I am getting out of the setup).
My question is about disk configuration. I know that if I was doing this in a physical setup I would be looking at somthing like the following to get optimum performance.
Mirrored OS Array
Mirrored Page File Array
Mirrored SMTP Array
Mirrored Log Files Array
Raid 0+1 Database Array
Given that the virtual machines probably will be sat on the SAN in a RAID 5 array am I better to do the following:
Create Seperate Virtual Disks for each of the components (OS, Page File, Logs, SMTP and Databases) and place them all onto the SAN.
Make sure the Physical Hosts have enough mirrored disks, create Seperate Virtual Disks for each of the components (OS, Page File, Logs, SMTP and Databases) and put the various components onto the dedicated mirrors with the databases going on the SAN.
Do the same performance rules apply for virtualised disks as physical disks for Exchange 2010? I suspect yes but I'm not sure. If not should I just create one massive virtual disk for everything and put it on the SAN?
I have not fully decided between Hyper-V or VM-Ware yet but I am leaning towards VMWare. Also if it helps we will be employing DAGs in the Exchange 2010 setup so there will be 2 Exchange servers setup on the SAN with a 3rd going to an offsite location at some point but this won't happen immediately or be on the SAN we are looking at now.
Thanks in advance for any help given.
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Fester7572
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Fester7572
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1 Solution
 
Manpreet SIngh KhatraSolutions Architect, Project LeadCommented:
(OS, Page File, SMTP, Exchange Installation) on one drive
Logs and Database on different drives

Do the same performance rules apply for virtualised disks as physical disks for Exchange 2010? Yes
VMWare - recommended ESX4.0

Also if it helps we will be employing DAGs in the Exchange 2010 setup so there will be 2 Exchange servers setup on the SAN with a 3rd going to an offsite location at some point but this won't happen immediately or be on the SAN we are looking at now - Awesome Plan for a DR

What is the roles to be on these servers .... RAM and number of mailboxes (SG and Stores that you would create)
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Fester7572Author Commented:
The servers will be running all the roles except Edge (haven't decided about that yet) and UM as I heard that should not be virtualised.
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Fester7572Author Commented:
Sorry Rancy, just to clarify.

(OS, Page File, SMTP, Exchange Installation) on one drive
Logs and Database on different drives
Do you mean virtual or physical disks? I'm trying to find out whether I need to add mirrored arrays in to the server hosts or if I can get away with 1 set of mirrors for the host and then have the Exchange VMs and Virtual Disks on the SAN and still get the same performance levels I would from a physical setup.

The hosts will have 32GB of RAM and I plan of allocating around 8 - 10GB per Exchange Server as there are a few users with massive mailboxes (around the 5GB mark). Total users are 75 expanding up to 100-150 within 3 years.
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Manpreet SIngh KhatraSolutions Architect, Project LeadCommented:
Yeah UM should not be Virtualized and Edge cannot be on a server that holds any of the other roles as its not part of the AD forest ......

Always Physical .... logical could be just another partition on the same Physical drive so if that crashes all Locicals are down so does not make much of sence ... Yeah a better go for getting the best ideally i have seen more of RAID5 as i too have that in ou  environment ..

Number of users could just be fine but their mailbox size is a bit alarming why not have the PST format and kindof smaller the mailbox size .... recommended would be not above 2Gb and not more then 3000 items in a single folder for better performance as we also have to keep this in mind always that this is a VM ... I would recommend 5SG and a Store each to start and move equal number of mailboxes to each (As this would be like 15 users on a store that too 75Gb too big still .... woops)
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Fester7572Author Commented:
So if I understand you right a virtual disk in VMWare is the same as a primary or logical partition on a physical disk? Wow, that must really be a big issue for people wanting to host multiple servers on the same host with only a single SAN to store the VMS.

I know what you mean about the size of the mailboxes, but you try telling the bosses they can't keep their favourite email attachments for years on end ;)

I guess with the advent of archiving and users being able to have multiple mailboxes in Exchange 2010 it might be finally possible to get those slimmed down a fair bit.
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Manpreet SIngh KhatraSolutions Architect, Project LeadCommented:
Yeah its the same .... as we are taking it from the SAN and the concept is whats there .... not much difference in Physical or Virtual server ..... Ideally what happens with SAN is that they make partitions and its very safe kindof ... So people make some partations and also keep some for redundency

No i would tell them please make PST and move some data as recommended would be 2 GB and not more then 3000 items in a folder (its ideally 5000) for best performance and not face issues like "RPC popups or latency issues" :) :} Obviously they are boss so they can even say doesnt matter to me i wont and we cant do much but lets give the recommendation so that tomorrow so that none can come and say why didnt you tell us then we could have done this (Better to take a soft shot)
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Fester7572Author Commented:
OK Thanks for your input
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za_mkhCommented:
Follow the same principles and best practices you would on a physical system that you would on a virtual. 
Ensure all virtual volumes are aligned along the 64K boundary (or whatever your SAN volumes are aligned too - default is 64) .. with Windows 2008, all volumes are automatically aligned along this format anyway!
From the SAN side, make sure all your Exchange volumes are not sitting on the same SAN LUN. Seperate them.
In the VM, use the PVSCSI driver. This will squeeze out extra IO
Check these out too:
http://blogs.vmware.com/performance/2008/02/16000-exchange.html
http://kennethvanditmarsch.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/vmotion-and-exchange-2010/
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Fester7572Author Commented:
Those links make really interesting reading. If I'm understanding Virtual Kenneth's blog right it would appear that Database Availability Groups are not supported with VMotion in Vmware or the equivalent Hyper-V Live Migration. Hope they address this soon as that could effect many people's decision to virtualise Exchange.
You seem to differ slightly in your recomendation from Rancy in that I should create LUNs on the SAN for each component and then pop it all on the SAN to get the best performance. In other words 5 LUNs per Exchange server with additional LUNS for any other VMs we may eventually decide to bring online. Have I understood your suggestion correctly?
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