Best configuration possible

JPD153 used Ask the Experts™
Setting up a new Hyper V environment replacing SBS 2011
I have the opportunity to do a full setup of Windows 2019 server with Exchange 2019 to replace an aging SBS 2011.
I will need a new hardware platform and look for suggestions on the best practices:
1) Should the host OS be on an SSD rather than SAS 15K ? (it will be on a RAID 1 anyway and the Hyper V VMs will be on a RAID 5 or 10 depending on suggestions))
2) Should Active directory be on a VM or a physical machine ?
3) 2 or 3 VMs planned: 1 for Exchange, one for File and print sharing and may be another one for A/D depending on suggestions to 2)
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DevAdminSystem Engineer | .NET Developer | Microsoft MVP | Technical Speaker

If is possible this is the configuration that I prefer:

- OS on SSD in Raid 1
- For every VM a Virtua Disk for the page file that is store on SSD in Raid 0 (or Raid 1 but different from OS)
- For the Virtul Disk of the VM depends how there are in the Virtual Disk, but Raid 10 is often a good choose, see my post for some considerations about the RAID.
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

A couple of PowerShell Guides:
PowerShell Guide - Standalone Hyper-V Server
PowerShell Guide - New VM PowerShell
PowerShell Guide - New-VM Template: Single VHDX File
PowerShell Guide - New-VM Template: Dual VHDX Files

Here are some focused articles:
Protecting a Backup Repository from Malware and Ransomware

Disaster Preparedness: KVM/IP + USB Flash = Recovery. Here’s a Guide

EDIT: Specific to the questions:
1: Load up the 2.5" bays with 10K SAS in RAID 6. Two logical disks, one 75GB for the host OS and the balance to the VMs.
2: VM in the standalone virtualization host and leave the host in WORKGROUP mode.
3: Leave the host with Hyper-V. That's it. Use the Exchange Migration Advisor to run the migration. It works well.
DrDave242Principal Support Engineer

2) Should Active directory be on a VM or a physical machine ?
3) 2 or 3 VMs planned: 1 for Exchange, one for File and print sharing and may be another one for A/D depending on suggestions to 2)

Please don't put AD on either a Hyper-V host (for licensing reasons) or an Exchange server (for a million reasons). Aside from those recommendations, it'll work fine on either a properly resourced VM or a physical server. Promoting at least two domain controllers is recommended for redundancy in case one of them winds up upside down and on fire...but I recognize that this isn't always practical in a small environment. If you have to stick with a single domain controller, just make sure it's being backed up regularly, and don't forget to back up its system state.
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kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Move email to O365.
DC should almost always be a VM.
Use same RAID array for Hyper-V and your VMs. You can use SSD in RAID 1 or 5. You can use HDD in RAID 1 or 10. RAID 6 with HDD is a special case where you need large capacity and low IOPS. RAID 5 with HDD is a special case for small drives and a small array.

Don't buy 15K disks. If your use case calls for 15K HDD, SSD will be cheaper and faster.

My general platform is a pair of SSD in RAID 1. Use first VM as a DC and file print server. That leaves second VM license available for other needs. If you need more capacity than RAID 1 provides, go to SSD in RAID 5.


ANy good reason why the host holding the DC VM should be outside ofthe domain ?
Principal Support Engineer
I can only think of one reason not to join it to the domain: whenever that physical server is rebooted, the host OS will start before the DC VM. You won't be able to authenticate a domain account against the DC until its OS (and AD DS) starts, but you should still be able to log into a domain admin account on the host using cached credentials. You can also still log into the local admin account on the host if it's a domain member, so this honestly isn't a very compelling reason.

If you do join the host to the domain, you should disable host-guest time sync on the DC VM (uncheck the Time synchronization box in the Integration Services section of that VM's settings within Hyper-V Manager), or you could end up with a situation in which the DC gets its time from the host, which in turn gets its time from the DC. This causes time drift throughout the domain.


I did appreciate all your comments - I am trying to setup something efficient and I am trying to get the best advices from competent people. Thanks again

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