Server 2016 DC and Exchange - Separate VM's or DC on Host Machine with Exchange on VM?

Paul Evans
Paul Evans used Ask the Experts™
We currently have SBS2011 and We want to move to Server 2016 as our DC with Exchange 2016.
We don't need any advice for setting-up Server 2016 as a DC or Exchange 2016 - however

Should we-

Setup and configure Server 2016 as a DC on physical hardware - install the Hyper-V element and setup a VM to run Exchange 2016 (within the DC environment)?
Do we setup the host OS (Server 2016) on Physical hardware and install the Hyper-V element - THEN setup 2 VM's - one as the DC and the other as Exchange.

Which is the best configuration please.
Thank you
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IvanSystem Engineer

best practice is to use 2 VM, since running Exchange on DC is not recommended, and that is the way I always do it.

Beside that, I always go with full server install, and then simple add Hyper-V role. Single Server 2016 Standard license will cover 2 VM, as long as you don't deploy any additional services on Hyper-V host. It is easier to manage it that way, or at least it is for me.

PS: You can read MS recommendation regarding Exchange + DC on same VM here:

The best configuration would really be 2 VM's, I wouldn't recommend using the host as a multi-roled server




Hi Ivan

Thanks for the help.
I wasn't looking to to run Exchange on a DC - i recognise that's not good practice.

What I was considering is Server 2016 DC on physical hardware (the server) and then run Exchange 2016 WITHIN a VM on that DC.

Is this the same as running Exchange on a DC?
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Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
The Hyper-V host should ALWAYS be *JUST* the Hyper-V host.  It affects your licensing!  You get 1+2 licenses with Server 2012 and 2016.  That means 1 physical install (to the host, PROVIDED it is *JUST* a Hyper-V host - no other roles installed or used) and 2 VMs.  Your system will be more stable running in this configuration.

No, while I *THINK* Exchange can technically be installed on a DC as a supported configuration, no professional with any experience would do this. Split the roles on two VMs.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

I have two very thorough EE articles on all things Hyper-V:

Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices
Practical Hyper-V Performance Expectations

The host can only be Hyper-V with no other roles. One cannot run a DC on the host along with the Hyper-V Role for licensing reasons but also Hyper-V makes too much of a network stack change to be compatible with a DC running in same.

Run them as a pair of VMs with the host set up with the Hyper-V Role only.


All comments were helpful - i went for best solution with Lee W simply because it was concise and direct.

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