Virtualizing Exchange 2007 on vSphere 5.1

Posted on 2013-01-29
Last Modified: 2013-01-30

I currently manage an Exchange 2003 server with about 135 mailboxes.  Out of those 135, 45 are active users and the rest are service accounts and mailboxes used with our document imaging system.  The size of the DB is about 275GB.

I have a 3 host vSphere 5.1 cluster and I'm starting to virtualize all my servers (about 16 production servers).

For storage I have a fibre EMC VNX5300 SAN and for backup software I have Veeam Backup and CA Arcserve R16 for my physical servers.

I'm looking for recommendations on virtualizing Exchange 2007.  I can’t go with Exch 2010 or 2013 because some bad purchasing decisions were made before I started with the company and we did not purchase Exchange with software assurance so as long as it is supported I am planning to run 2007.  I have vSphere Essentials Plus so no DRS or SDRS.

-Is my environment small enough that I will be able to run multiple roles on the same server or is splitting the roles recommended?  If so, how many servers?
-I am not planning to use CCR or at least not for now.  Can I use vSphere HA?  
-Should I worry about VMFS vs RDM for the storage type?
-Besides the obvious of separating OS, DB and logs, is there other must do best practices you can recommend?
-Is it okay to put OS files on a RAID 5 LUN and DB and logs on a RAID 10?

Any advice and recommendation are always welcome.

Question by:cartereverett
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LVL 119
ID: 38832301
I would recommend using RAID 10 for all your OS, Logs, and DB.

Wether you use VMFS (VMDK) or RDM, probably is dependant on what backup technology are you going to use.

Are you going to use clustering if so, you will want to use RDM, otherwise performance between the two, is not very different.

A single Exchange Server can handle those mailboxes, but you can split for redundancy, and have mailbox stores on more than a single server.

See the following Case Study

Deploying Exchange Server 2007 on VMware
Infrastructure: A VMware Internal Case Study

Author Comment

ID: 38832327
I am not planning to use clustering or at least not for now.  As far as the backup technology, I will use Veeam to disk and from disk to our tape library.

Can you provide example of how you would split the roles for redundancy? I have a DMZ.  
Does the ET role has to be installed on something like ISA or can I just install the role on the server and put it on the DMZ? and do I have to use something like ADAM to sync with AD?
I am planning to use Windows 2008.
LVL 119
ID: 38832358
Okau, if you are using Veeam, I would recommend you use standard VMFS on RAID 10 using virtual disks (vmdks).
Netscaler Common Configuration How To guides

If you use NetScaler you will want to see these guides. The NetScaler How To Guides show administrators how to get NetScaler up and configured by providing instructions for common scenarios and some not so common ones.


Author Comment

ID: 38832392

Can you provide example of how you would split the roles for redundancy? I have a DMZ.  
Does the ET role has to be installed on something like ISA or can I just install the role on the server and put it on the DMZ? and do I have to use something like ADAM to sync with AD?
I am planning to use Windows 2008
LVL 63

Accepted Solution

Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 500 total points
ID: 38835152
Splitting the roles is no longer considered best practise. For this number of users it isn't even something I would consider. Single box, you might want to consider a second, but if you don't have a second Exchange 2007 licence then forget about it.

The only role that is supported in a DMZ is Edge Transport. However I personally consider Edge to be a complete waste of time. If you have the money to burn on an Edge, go to Exchange 2010 instead. If you have the licences, then I would drop the Edge and have two Exchange 2007 servers instead and use an SCR to give you a copy of the data elsewhere.


Author Comment

ID: 38835413
I guess the only reason I was thinking about a frontend on the DMZ was because of OWA.  I've always heard that OWA should be access from the DMZ instead of having it on the LAN.
Exchange 2010...that's funny because I just had a conversation with my boss and he asked me to find out pricing about Exch 2010.

So if want a front end and backend server I need to license each one?

Can I just use one server on the LAN and open whatever ports required to access OWA? Should I even consider Exchange 2013?
LVL 63

Assisted Solution

by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 500 total points
ID: 38835436
The first question you have to ask yourself about a DMZ is how does it increase the security of your network? Just putting things in to DMZ alone does nothing, it can actually reduce it.
If you want to put something in to a DMZ then you need TMG etc.

You can run Exchange externally with just two ports - 25 and 443. Nothing else is required.

If you are going to buy now, buy Exchange 2013 and use downgrade rights. Then you can install Exchange 2013 once Microsoft have actually finished the product.


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