Virtulising Exchange Server

Posted on 2010-03-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-09
Can i successfully run Exchange 2007 or 2010 in a vmware environment. Server has around 400 mailboxes.
Question by:boomerbostock
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Expert Comment

by:Syed Mutahir Ali
ID: 28937049

Exchange 2010 System Requirements Page (Click on Hardware Virtualization)

VMWare is on the MS list of approved virtualization platforms.

You can virtualize it ;

Just a suggestion :

When you have 64BIT Hardware, why not use Microsoft Hyper-V to Virtualize exchange ;

You can setup physical pass through disks for your Mailbox Databases (Mailbox Server) or use fixed size VHDs or VMDKs.



Expert Comment

ID: 28953402
yes, make sure you have lot of ram and high performance storage.

Accepted Solution

Matthew England earned 2000 total points
ID: 29030068
Both Exchange 2007 & 2010 will run quite well in a VMWare virtualized environment. Many of the same considerations apply as would when installing it on a physical host. Assuming this is a single server installation, it should be fairly straight forward.

I would refrain from running it on VMWare Server 2.0 due to the number of mailboxes you're planning, however ESX or ESXi 4.0 will work. If you're going to be using Windows Server 2008 R2, make sure you've applied the latest patches to your ESXi host system (Build 219382 or later), or else you'll likely encounter some issues with stability.

If you're running vCenter the simplest way to provide HA to an Exchange organization of your size, would be to create an HA cluster in vCenter, although even this has it's drawbacks, as it wouldn't provide you software specific HA functionality though it would likely be more than sufficient for a 400 user organization and cost less than standing up a traditional Exchange cluster or implementing. Although if you're planning on Exchange 2010 & will have two servers, then Exchange's Database level failover would be more beneficial, especially when it comes to scheduling routine system maintenance.

As for 2007 vs 2010, while I do only have one 2010 production virtual installation under my belt at this time, if you're making the decision now, I would opt for Exchange 2010. The reduction in I/O operations provide noticeable performance improvement's especially in virtual environments where you're sharing disk pools with other applications, or where you're using performing SATA disks. I just upgraded my company to Exchange 2010 on ESXi 4 and have encountered only minimal issues so far.

The key is to properly plan your resource allocations. With VMWare you can often successfully commit fewer resources to a system than you would typically for a physical host, but you don't want to under allocate. At the same time, keep in mind that while you can always add more resources to a VM once it's created, (add a second processor or more memory, expand disks etc) you can not subtract them.

As for disks, you can use SAN or local disks, but make sure they are set up with hardware RAID. You absolutely want to pre-allocate your disks where the Information Store and log files for Exchange will reside, if nothing else. Additionally, I would recommend creating those partitions as Dynamic Disks in Windows. This will allow you to expand the disk in VMWare & then dynamically extend the partition in Windows, without any downtime, should you need more space down the road.

I hope this helps.


Expert Comment

by:Matthew England
ID: 29131555
As a follow up to my previous post, you may find this helpful:

I gives you some information specific to virtualizing exchange, as well as some pre-approved sizing templates approved by Microsoft & VMWare, to help you with the initial resource allocation of your Exchange virtual machine.


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