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bguenther asked on

Server Setup


I am working to setup 2 physical servers. We have about 30 users. 10 of which are part time.

Server 1:
Server 2008 Standard
12Gb Ram
Intel Core i7 930 @ 2800 MHz
AMCC 9650SE-4LPML SCSI Disk Device (1000GB)

Server 2:
Server 2012 standard
32GB of DDR3 RAM
4 x 120GB Solid state drives running in RAID 10 configuration
2 x 2TB Standard hard drives running in RAID 1
Dual CPU system with Xeon E5-2620s

I want to install exchange 2013, domain controller, remote desktop and also use server 2 as a file sharing server.

Do i have to purchase a third physical server for a proper setup?
Server 1: install exchange, server 2: install domain controller, server 3: remote desktop
Also which one should be the file sharing server?
Should i be setting up a virtual machine on server 2?

I would like to do it with only 2 physical servers if possible but i don't want something that will cause lots of problems either.

Let me know your thoughts.
Windows Server 2008ExchangeActive Directory

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Last Comment

8/22/2022 - Mon
Lee W, MVP

Server 2 should be setup to run Hyper-V and Hyper-V ONLY.  Then you can install two VMs

I would recommend adding more memory if you can and virtualising the second box. Hyper-V would be a good candidate here due to the lower cost of licensing. You should be able to easily run 4 virtual servers on this box as is.

I would make the first box my DC and install hyper-v or vmware on the second box and create VMs for exchange, rds and file server there.
Mike Kline

You definitely want to have 2 DCs.  Have seen too many situations where people run into issues with only 1.  I like leew's idea of creating VMs but if you are not familiar with with Hyper-V and have a third server you can also set that up.  That DC doesn't need to be as powerful as the boxes you have listed (nice machines)


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James Murphy

I have never used Hyper-V before so just a couple of questions on that.

Do i install windows server 2012 on server #2 then install hyper-v on that? (free version of hyper-v?)

Does each virtual machine need a windows server 2012 licence?

So you are saying i should add more ram to server 1 and make it the dc, then on server 2 i install hyper-v and setup 3 virtual machines? (exchange, rds and file server)
At the moment we are planning on putting in 4 x 120GB SSD which i assume would need to be quite a bit bigger than that if we want to install 3 virtual servers correct?

Why do i need more than one dc? (just briefly explain please)
Simon Butler (Sembee)

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You need to DCs otherwise if the single DC dies, all other services would be down due to not having AD. Doing as suggested above by Sembee would be the best option, as it would reduce the number of Windows licenses you need. You can license all 4 servers with 2 Windows 2012 Standard licenses as above.

For file servers, I would install Distributed File Services role on both DCs and created a replica (DFS-R) set so you'll have high availability. Hypre-V server is just a role you enable on the base install like any other role.
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Thanks for all your reply's. :)


Server1 is an existing server with 2008. do i need to upgrade this to 2012 or can i keep it as 2008? if i need to upgrade what is the reason for it?

Thanks for the layout it.

If i understand Sandeshdubey correctly then he is saying that DC1 should not be installed on a virtual server but rather directly on the physical server, so would you say that my layout should be like this?

Server 1: 2008
VM 2: Exchange

Server 2: 2012
VM 1: DC 2, File sharing
VM 2: Remote Desktop Services.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)

I would suggest an upgrade, so that you can have two virtual machines on the same physical host. That isn't allowed with Windows 2008, so you would have to purchase an additional licence to do that, and that new licence would be Windows 2012.

Don't try and mix a physical domain controller with anything else. It doens't work properly.
Either have the server as just a host for VMs, or just a domain controller. Not both.

I have plenty of sites with virtual only domain controllers without any problems.
Depending on the licence for Windows 2008 you have, you could look at moving that to another machine if you want to keep a physical DC. It wouldn't have to be much to be a domain controller only.


OK thanks.

I will propose to set up as the following then:

Server 1 2008 upgrade to 2012, upgrade ram to 24GB
VM 1: DC1
VM 2: Exchange

Server 2 Server 2012
VM 1: DC 2, File sharing Role
VM 2: Remote Desktop Services.

Just one more question before i close topic, is server 1 easily powerfull enough to run DC and exchange?
Sandesh Dubey

Yes the configuration looks good for Server to run both Exchange/DC role.However having exchange role on DC is not recemmend.If there is h/w shortage then you have no choice.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)

DC functionality isn't very much. Therefore if you have 24gb of RAM, just give 4gb to the domain controller VM , the rest to Exchange VM and you can support well over 500 users.


OK, sounds great thanks to all the helped.