VMware single server storage with Exchange?

Posted on 2011-09-06
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I just got an HP DL380 G7 with 6 300gb SAS drives.  I have been told and read by many to have them in raid 10 for best performance and redundancy on VMware ESXi boxes.  So I was planning to do so.  Here is the setup I need to accomplish.  Please give me your thoughts on how I should do this.

I need a DC and Exchange server on this server.  I do NOT want exchange and a DC on the same VM.  So it will be 2 separate VMs.  OS is Win2008r2 and Exchange 2010.  VMware ESXi 5.

Users are about 15.  I am thinking no more than 100GB for the DC which will be a print server as well.  Normally I would make one large storage group of 900gb here (with the drives being in a raid 10) and make a vmdk for the DC and a vmdk for the exchange box and then partition the logs and pagefile off in the OS.  I don't think that is the right way to do things though.  I have been reading quite a bit on "best practices" but I can't find anything that covers exactly what I need, I just found enough to really doubt the way I have done it.

Question by:EmbraceNext
Welcome to Experts Exchange

Add your voice to the tech community where 5M+ people just like you are talking about what matters.

  • Help others & share knowledge
  • Earn cash & points
  • Learn & ask questions
  • 8
  • 7
  • 2
LVL 121
ID: 36492541
Mark, what you propose is fine, just one thing make sure you have the additional Battery Backup Write Cache (BBWC) for the RAID controller and configure 75% write 25% read with SMart Start Array Configuration Utilities, and also install the HP OEM version of ESXi 5.0 which has the agents to report hardware status.

Whats important is to have a fast datastore for the virtual disks, and RAID 10 will give you that, if you wanted more storage you could drop to RAID 5, I do not think you will notice much difference.

Personally I like to keep DCs just as DCs, with no other roles, but you would need another VM, license for your print server.
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 36492564
I would go with the Flash memory on the raid controller if you can that way you do not need to worry about batteries.

This is be plenty of power and I/O speed. Raid 10 is much faster that Raid 5. Have you thought about use SBS-2011? It goes you so much for so little. I have 2 installation with SBS-2011 on ESXi 4.1.

I would also get the 4GB SD card for the DL380 G7 and install the ESXi on that. This way you create any storage with vSphere client or vCenter and your disks will be aligned.  Also you get all the storage for the VM's.

Author Comment

ID: 36492894
Ok, I do have the 410i with BBWC.  I will check the settings for the write and read.  Where would I grab the OEM version of ESXi?  I suppose I should search, but just in case I don't find it.

I am not a fan of SBS at all.  I would think of using it for a place under 10 users that doesn't seem to have a chance of growing to much.

I do have an 8GB 30MBs card that I will be installing ESXi on.  If that is incorrect please let me know.

Just to check, for exchange should I do a separate vmdk for OS/Exchange then one for the ExchangeDB, then one for logs and finally one for pagefile?  So 4 vmdk?

Salesforce Has Never Been Easier

Improve and reinforce salesforce training & adoption using WalkMe's digital adoption platform. Start saving on costly employee training by creating fast intuitive Walk-Thrus for Salesforce. Claim your Free Account Now

LVL 121
ID: 36492911
Very good, install on SD or USB flash drive. (make sure good quality SD card!)

You place the SD card inside the box; see the User's Guide, pg. 14: (item #13).

Here is the VMware KB on installing 5.0 on USB/SD:

Author Comment

ID: 36492922
Yep, done that before with ESXi 4.  I have done tons of these installations.  Just never sure if I have done them right and well, I want to ask the experts and see if there are better ways to do it.  Like creating the 4 vmdks for exchange or is that overkill?
LVL 121
ID: 36492939
In all the years, we've been doing installations, we've never seen much performance gain in creating specific datastores of different RAID types, creating different virtual disks on different datastores when in normal usage, and keeping the installation simple, in using a single fast datastore.

15 users is very low, I think it would be over complicated and overkill! But every VMware Admin, has their own way.
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 36492948
Also remember to set in the BIOS for the server to boot from the SD card.

Author Comment

ID: 36492963
Ok, so 1 datastore (900GB), DC vmdk 100gb, Exchange vmdk?

If there is no improvement with multiple vmdks or making 2 logical disks (one for DC and one for Exchange) then why do people do it?  I know this is going away from my question, but in order for me to understand it, these are things I need to know.

Thanks Rick, I am really trying to drill down in here why storage groups are setup they way they are.
LVL 121
ID: 36492989
"much performance gain" - not no improvement.

Lots of reasons, historically, one upon a time partition sizes were limited in size, some organisations like to create virtual disk for logs, virtual disk for databases, (which is the SQL/Oracle DB Admins), these histortically were created on RAID 1 Mirrors (DB), RAID 5 Mirrors (logs), some organisations like to have seperate virtual disks for different Mailbox stores, different departments, keep the defragmentation down etc

BUT, the big difference with virtualisation, is you have one datastore, that sits on one RAID 10 Array.

Author Comment

ID: 36493017
Ok, so getting into real specifics and then I will mark this as answered.  The most optimal (good performance but still keeping a bit of simplicity to it) setup would be something like this:

Raid 10 - 900GB Logical Drive
900GB Datastore
Win2008r2 DC
- 100GB vmdk

Win2008r2 with Exchange 2010
- 64GB OS/Exchange BIN vmdk
- 300GB ExchangeDB vmdk
- 36GB Logs vmdk

Leftover ~400GB for any expansion that may be needed.

How is that setup?  Let me know what you think please.
LVL 121

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 500 total points
ID: 36493021
with your six disks in RAID 10, all the I/O will be on a single RAID 10 datastore, the bottleneck will be on the datastore. (six spindles)

So splitting into disks, just gives you isolation, fragmentation levels may be lower, I always like to split OS and Exchange Data (but that can be done on partitions).

I don't think with your 15 user installation, you'll have any performance issues, that need the measures, if they work. Ask the Mods, to put this question in the Storage Zone, and ask the Storage Guys, why they create a disk for a pagefile? (based on evidence! - rather than something they read, chinese whispers, or urban legend!).

We used to use a pagefile disk, for physical Citrix Terminal Servers, because the 75 Concurrent Users, when the server started swapping, you didn't want the pagefile, causing performance issues on the OS or Application disks. (but the servers were physicall limited to 4GB only).
LVL 121
ID: 36493026
Yes, that looks fine, and you can if comfortable with virtual disks, to use Thin Provisioning.

Make sure you Backup Exchange and Purge the Logs with Exchange aware Backup product.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36493050
Sorry if made you really work for that one.  I just like getting specifics instead of going into things blindly.  I do need to see what number of spindles I should have.

LVL 121
ID: 36493091
No problems, spindles can make a big difference

e.g. some real world examples of datastores, we've tested

two disks RAID 1 - 84.5 MB/s Write,  150 MB/s Read
eight disks RAID 10 - 212 MB/s Write,  287 MB/s Read

Author Comment

ID: 36493094
That is what I want to see.  Could you list some benchmarking software that you use for that stuff?

LVL 121
ID: 36494586
1. IOMeter

2. Disktt



Featured Post

Free NetCrunch network monitor licenses!

Only on Experts-Exchange: Sign-up for a free-trial and we'll send you your permanent license!

Here is what you get: 30 Nodes | Unlimited Sensors | No Time Restrictions | Absolutely FREE!

Act now. This offer ends July 14, 2017.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

A list of top three free exchange EDB viewers that helps the user to extract a mailbox from an unmounted .edb file and get a clear preview of all emails & other items with just a single click on mailboxes.
This article will help to fix the below errors for MS Exchange Server 2013 I. Certificate error "name on the security certificate is invalid or does not match the name of the site" II. Out of Office not working III. Make Internal URLs and Externa…
This tutorial will show how to configure a single USB drive with a separate folder for each day of the week. This will allow each of the backups to be kept separate preventing the previous day’s backup from being overwritten. The USB drive must be s…
This video discusses moving either the default database or any database to a new volume.

717 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question