Server 2012 Essentials is it possible to virtualize Exchange?

Purchasing Server 2012 Essentials would like to virtualize Exchange, is this possible or is a second server needed for the Exchange server? Being told two different things by company I'm purchasing the server from. I believe the documentation states Exchange cannot be virtualized, is this the case?

Thank you EE.
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WORKS2011Austin Tech CompanyAsked:
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Exchange 2013 supports being virtualized. So for your situation, you can purchase 2012 R2 Standard and use its 1+2 rights to run one VM with the essentials role and a second VM for exchange. You will, of course, also need windows and exchange CALs.

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Adam FarageEnterprise ArchCommented:
Ah, tricky question man..

It is possible to virtualize Exchange, and its fully supported but you need to understand the Windows Server guidance on licensing when it comes down to virtualization:

Essentials / Foundation: limited server functionality, no Hyper-V support
Standard Edition: Full server functionality, upwards to two guest VMs
Datacenter Edition: Full server functionality, unlimited guest VMs

If you need to virtualize Exchange, you need to account for how many VMs you would need along with the total cost of resources and then figure out if you want to go down the path of Standard (MSRP: 882 USD) vs Datacenter (MSRP: 6155 USD).

Furthermore, the hardware you purchase for this should be able to sustain Exchange and virtualization. Make sure the processor is a Xeon based that does support VT-d and VT-I/O (which is not always required) along with check out the Exchange Server Role Calculator for the sizing required ( If you have an existing Exchange organization, you can get the numbers for the profile (first tab) by running messagestats.ps1 ( along with Get-MailboxReport ( Both of those reports give you more than enough to figure out what is required for your organization.

As for licensing, you would need CALs for Exchange and Windows Server Standard (!! You DONT need Datacenter for the OS running Exchange!!!!)

If you need further help, dont hesitate to ask :)
WORKS2011Austin Tech CompanyAuthor Commented:
Will the following server specs work well?
PowerEdge T320, Intel Xeon E-24XX v2 Processors
Chassis with up to 8, 3.5 inch Hard Drives
Raid 5 for H710P/H710/H310 (3-16 HDDs)
PERC H310 Adapter RAID Controller, Full Height
Intel Xeon E5-2430 2.20GHz, 15M Cache, 7.2GT/s QPI, Turbo, 6C, 95W
16GB RDIMM, 1600MT/s, Low Volt, Dual Rank, x4 Data Width  
600GB 15K RPM SAS 6Gbps 3.5in Hot-plug Hard Drive
Dual, Hot-plug, Redundant Power Supply (1+1), 495W

My guess is bump it up to 32G memory.
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Adam FarageEnterprise ArchCommented:
I cannot determine this, as you need to either provide the results of the Exchange calculator. I have seen a SMALL installation of 30 folks require 24GB of RAM alone for a single server and this is due to the ESE memory allocation for Exchange 2013. I would HIGHLY recommend actually sizing the environment prior to purchasing any hardware by actually using the links above I provided....
Adam RayCommented:
Taking a step back...

You can run this setup:

Physical Server: Server 2012 Std w/Hyper-V role
-- VM1: Server 2012 Essentials
-- VM2: Server 2012 Std w/Exchange role

In that scenario you would have to purchase Server 2012 Std AND Server 2012 Essentials. (And Exchange w/CALs, of course.)

Alternatively you could use this setup:
Physical Server: Server 2012 Std w/Hyper-V
-- VM1: Server 2012 Domain Controller
-- VM2: Server 2012 Std w/Exchange

In this second setup you would only have to buy one copy of Svr 2012 (Standard supports 2 VMs) and you wouldn't need Essentials at all.--Getting into the plusses/minuses of Essentials vs Std and related windows CAL requirements is beyond the scope of this post.
Adam RayCommented:
As far as your server specs go... For "small" deployments I have personally not found the Exchange Calculator that useful. And if you're looking at Essentials, with a 25 user limit, I would consider this a small deployment.

It may be a bit overkill, but with as cheap as RAM is getting I use the following rule of thumb for small deployments:
-- 16GB for Essentials server and/or "basic" Domain Controller/File Server.
-- 4GB + 1GB/mailbox for Exchange server. (8GB min)
-- 4GB for the Server 2012 Std w/hyper-v host

So for a 8 user office that would mean 32GB of RAM. 16+(4+8)+4

But I stress that is my personal rule of thumb. It doesn't necessarily account for running any client apps (like databases) on the server(s). And as the mailbox count climbs, I tend to reduce the RAM allocation per mailbox.

Without knowing the details of the environment, it would be reckless to say whether the specs you mentioned would be sufficient. I will say, however, that adjusting for RAM and hard disk storage, those specs would be sufficient for some small deployments.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
"In that scenario you would have to purchase Server 2012 Std AND Server 2012 Essentials. (And Exchange w/CALs, of course.)"

This is not correct. The 2012 licensing rights allow downgrade rights to essentials on a per-VM basis. So buying 1 copy of standard and leveraging 1+2 can allow you to run a standard host, an essentials guest, and another standard guest.

And with 2012 R2, the essentials features are a role so you don't even need to leverage downgrade rights.

Either way, you don't need to buy essentials and standard. You just need to buy standard. And CALs.
WORKS2011Austin Tech CompanyAuthor Commented:
@Cliff Galiher, first off thank you for the clear understanding great information to know. Regarding exchange is there downgrade rights? Would I buy exchange or is there downgrade rights available and buy 10 Exchange user CALs. Believe I have to purchase Exchange w/CALs rather ask though.

For the hardware mentioned I would purchase 2012 R2 with 10 user CALs, downgrade to essentials with no costs.

Thank you.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
No version of essentials came with exchange, ever. And there are no downgrade rights to older non-essentials versions of SBS. So no, there is no scenario where you could manipulate downgrade rights to get exchange for free. You must purchase it.
WORKS2011Austin Tech CompanyAuthor Commented:
Perfect, wasn't sure regarding downgrade rights since two VM's are available and I don't want to manipulate anything however I like to save clients money where possible not just buy things for the sake of doing so. Thanks again Cliff, greatly appreciated.
Adam RayCommented:
@Cliff Thanks for the correction in the Essentials licensing. I was confusing SBS 2011 licensing and server 2012 licensing.
Adam FarageEnterprise ArchCommented:
I would though recommend running your organization Exchange users into the Role calculator. Depending on the size of mailboxes and the number of mailbox databases, the memory allocation rate is going to vary. People do not account for the new ESE memory allocation model, and I have seen a lot of situations where folks do not account for mem allocation and are undersized.
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