Should I use Exchange 2013 DAG with VMware HA?

Posted on 2014-09-10
Last Modified: 2014-09-23
I am in the process of setting up a new domain with all of the servers being  virtualized using VMware.  At the moment, I am working on installing and configuring Exchange 2013.  I will be exporting all of the mailboxes out of our current production Exchange 2003 server and importing them into Exchange 2013 on the new domain.  Our current Exchange Server has roughly 50 mailboxes with a total size of 70 GB.  

I have been reading a lot about Database Availability Groups in Exchange 2013.  However, I am wondering if using DAGs is recommended / necessary in my environment.  I am running two VMware ESX hosts with HA turned on so if one host fails the VMs will be migrated to the other host so that no server is down for an extended period of time.  All of my VMs / Data reside on a SAN.  Since I already have HA configured with VMware, is there much advantage to installing two Exchange Servers and using a DAG?

Question by:csimmons1324
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Accepted Solution

Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 250 total points
ID: 40314832
Depends what you want HA for.
VMWARE HA doesn't allow you to patch a server with zero downtime, repair a corrupt database etc.
A DAG allows you to keep email active while working on the other server.


Author Comment

ID: 40314879

Thanks for the reply.  Patching isn't much of a problem as I can perform it after hours or even during hours as it is not a huge deal if the server goes down for a brief period of time during working hours.

One my concerns with using DAG is:

1. I do not know how much effort is involved in getting it setup correctly.
2. I do not know how much a VMware environment with HA complicates things.  

I am pretty green when it comes to this stuff and I do not want to create additional headaches for myself with little gain.  Maybe my concerns are a non-issue???

Assisted Solution

by:Zacharia Kurian
Zacharia Kurian earned 250 total points
ID: 40316418
LVL 63

Expert Comment

by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
ID: 40317385
The above article is very good, except it is written by the vendor, so can hardly be seen as objective.
Been there before with vendors saying one thing, Microsoft saying another.

It is supported to use the VMWARE HA solution with Exchange 2013, and it is also supported to use it with a DAG. Personally I think the VMWARE technology overcomplicates things for little gain.
A DAG is pretty easy to setup, but if you aren't sure then I would get a consultant to assist. A decent consultant can be worth the money. I recently assisted a client by tearing up their design completely and redoing it. Saved half of the budget as they planned to use 20 servers, I not only met the objectives but gave them additional functionality and a quicker migration with just 10.


Expert Comment

by:Zacharia Kurian
ID: 40317596
All vendors do publish articles. When it comes to VM, they always look for larger environment than a smaller ones. So any design part is basically depends upon the type of  company environment and their requirement. If the requirements are high availability, fail overs,  redundancy, DR etc.., then the solutions may vary.


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