Exchange 2016 and Hyper-V Install

Michael Hemberger
Michael Hemberger used Ask the Experts™
on
Setting up small 12 user network. Very tight budget
Bought Dell Server with 16gb ram,  Xeon CPU E3-1225 3.30Ghz
(1) 2TB SSD.   (1) 500GB SSD

Bought and installed Windows 2016 Standard.
Installed it with AD on the 2TB SSD

Bought Exchange 2016

I've noticed that it's probably not good to put Exchange on this same machine (Although some have said with such a small amount of users it might be ok?), and buying another machine might not be possible yet, so my questions are:

Can I do a hyper-v guest install on this machine and put exchange there?
If so.. What advice on setting up the Hyper-V guest for exchange? Like how much ram to allocate or space.

Any advice on the actual installation of Exchange in the guest VM?
I did see that it should be on it's own drive (thereby my 2nd SSD that's 500GB).

Finally...

Advice on how to connect it to the AD that's on the machine.

Thanks!
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Shabarinath RamadasanInfrastructure Architect

Commented:
Hello,

If you can invest slightly more on the memory, say 32 GB - Then with the current Windows Server STD license, you are eligible to run upto two virtual servers without additional license.

One VM can be used for Active Directory and One for Exchange.
Once you have some more money to invest, Either add once set of license on the same server so that you can run 4 Virtual servers on the same physical server. By this way, you can redundancy - 2 nodes for AD and 2 nodes for Exchange.

Eventually, you can have a second physical node and move the redundant nodes to the second physical server. So that you can withstand a node failure. For 12 users, you dont have to worry much on the hardware sizing or the underlying disk.

Good luck !
Shaba
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
I'm sure I could do the extra ram.
But I'm not following the talk about One VM for active directory as I have already AD installed on the server (not in the VM) and my hope was to just put the exchange in one of the VM's for now and connect it to the Server as I have it installed.

AD is on my current setup of 2016 (as per notes in the question)
AlexA lack of information provides a lack of a decent solution.

Commented:
Exchange cannot go on a domain controller to start with.

Secondly, wouldn't something like essentials be a better option for you? Otherwise if it were me I'd do this.

Take your tin, drop windows hyper-v on it.

Spin up 2 VM's

One as a domain controller, one as exchange.

The DC can sit with 2GB of memory happily, assign the other 10GB to exchange (leaving 2Gb for your host)

Yes, that's not enough memory for exchange blah blah blah, you've got 15 users on it, I doubt you'll ever notice it.

You have a single point of failure however. I personally would look at exchange online for that sort of setup.

Regards
Alex
Shabarinath RamadasanInfrastructure Architect

Commented:
Hi Michael,

If you have AD already running, then you can use the 2 VMs for Exchange and have DAG configured for redundancy.
You can also use the Hyper-V Server (free) but needs licenses to be procured for each VM getting hosted on it.

Good luck.
AlexA lack of information provides a lack of a decent solution.

Commented:
have DAG configured for redundancy.

Is pointless since he has a single physical machine he's planning on virtualizing to.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
This should be done as O365.

The cost for 12 users to purchase AV, SPAM filtering, and backups is going to be really high for such a small on premise solution. The labor for a small system is the same as a large system, but only a few people are getting any benefit.
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
So. Alex,

you mentioned spinning up two VM's .  One for the domain controller and one for exchange.
Since I currently have Server 2016 standard running and AD installed on it :
Should I start over on this machine and reinstall server 2016 , do Hyper -V and then spin up the two VM's as suggested
Or
Can I keep my current setup and spin up one VM for Exchange?

BTW Never took the time to look at essentials 2016.  Does it have the server with AD and Exchange on it?
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
I see that your server has no redundant storage. How are you planning to do backups? How will you recover is data is lost due to deletion, drive failure, or ransomware?
AlexA lack of information provides a lack of a decent solution.

Commented:
Should I start over on this machine and reinstall server 2016 , do Hyper -V and then spin up the two VM's as suggested
Or
Can I keep my current setup and spin up one VM for Exchange?

Keep your existing setup, when you add the additional virtual DC, you can then migrate the FSMO roles to it. Then install Exchange and configure that.

However as before, your better option would be to run exchange online instead, it's a much easier and more fitting solution that what you're trying to do at the moment

Regards,

Alex
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Alex,

First of all ... Thanks so much for taking the time to help!
I get the online would be a heck of a lot easier, but it looks like for now (as ridiculous as it seems) asking for another $575 a year in a small company that's cutting, cutting, cutting probably won't ly.  

Anyway ...

any advice on which drives to put the vm's?
I have the 2tb SSD with server 2016 on it now and a blank 500gb ssd
AlexA lack of information provides a lack of a decent solution.

Commented:
Right,

Your RAID set needs to be better than what you're doing. You need a minimum of 4 disks (3 in RAID and a hotspare). Then RAID5 the entire array so in the event of a disk failure you don't lose everything.

My preference would be 5 disk, 4 in RAID6 and a hot spare. You've got so many single point of failures you're setting yourself up for a LOT of trouble if you have any sort of outage.

Regards
Alex
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Ok...  good advice!
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Alex,

One other question on the Raid.
So with raid its one large volume.
Should I partition the volume a certain way for Server 2016-AD-Exchange?
AlexA lack of information provides a lack of a decent solution.

Commented:
Right,

So when you set up a RAID set, it'll configure a single volume spanning all disks, for RAID 5 it'll be like this

Disk1}
Disk2 }} Volume1  
Disk3}

Disk4  }Hotspare

You would then take Volume1 and partition it. I'd go with something like

Partition0 - Drive C - Host OS

Partition1 - Drive D - Virtual Machine VMDKs

No need anymore to put your page file on a seperate disk.

You'd also need a RAID controller that supports the RAID set.

Since you're going, or wanting to, go virtual, each of the VMDK's would just reside on the disk and then further partitioning within the virtual machine.

Regards

Alex
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
How large a partition for Server 2016 Standard OS?
AlexA lack of information provides a lack of a decent solution.

Commented:
I'd go with something like 60GB for the base installation, then the rest to your VM storage.
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Ok .. Thanks again!'
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
I don't think you need RAID 5. RAID 1 is sufficient. I also wouldn't recommend a hot spare.

Unfortunately, poor planning is going to increase the cost of this project above initial projections, and there are now some sunk costs that could have been avoided.

Why is there a server at all? With 12 people, can this all be done with O365, for Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive? Maybe some Azure AD as well?

Why Windows 2016/Exchange 2016, and not the 2019 versions?

If email was using O365, Windows Server Essentials is a much less expensive license than Windows Server.

Server hardware in under-spec'ed from both a RAM and storage perspective.

Now, how to salvage this.
Can hardware/software be returned and funds used to start project over with O365?

Have funds been allocated to AV, SPAM filtering, and backups for servers and Exchange? How much would it cost? Even if you throw away the Exchange license, O365 could still be a better and less expensive option. Don't forget that O365 doesn't include backups, but at least the resiliency is much better than anything possible for this small organization using on prem equipment.

To put Exchange on prem, it needs to go into a VM.

What are the SSD models? I have never seen a 2 TB enterprise SSD. An enterprise SSD would be 1.92 TB. A consumer SSD might be 2 TB, but it would lack power loss protection, and a power outage could corrupt the entire drive. A consumer drive isn't even baseline viable IMHO. Put in a a PC or laptop, but not a server.

Back to putting Exchange on prem, host really ought to go to 32 GB RAM, with a pair of enterprise SSD in RAID 1. Wipe the current installation, and reload with Windows Server Standard with Hyper-V role. Hardware should be booting UEFI. Install Windwos Server to a 60-80 GB partition, or use the whole thing as 1 big partition. Create first VM for a DC an a 40 GB dynamically expanding VHDX. You can always make it bigger later. Make it a DC.

Make a second VM to hold Exchange. Use multiple dynamically expanding VHDX for the drives. I would have at least 3 drives: OS, database, and logs. Our Exchange servers start with 4 drives: OS, Programs, Data, and Logs. Don't ever partition the drives on a VM.

Configure and test backups.
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
So. can I say OUCH like a dozen times?
LOL... I get it ...
This project had a bad start.. mostly because of cheap son-of-a ?#!%'s
Cutting on going monthly costs like crazy. Stupid .. I know

So I'm jumping to your Salvage parts
Yes... BTW  I misspoke about the 2TB, it's actually a Kingston 1.92TB Data Center SSD
Also I can squeeze the additional 16gb ram out of them thank heavens.

Trying to wrap my head around your statements about the partitioning / "at least 3 drives"

So... the two ssd's I have now (both enterprise) 1.92TB and 480gb
When you say 3 drives... you actually mean 3 physical drives right?
Because in the earlier statement about a 60to80g partition for the server or 1 big partition , did you mean put the server and both vm's in one big partition on the 1.92TB drive?

I can get another driver if it has to be three drives but I'm trying to figure best use of the two current drives.
Also what sizes should it be for the database and then the logs?

Finally... "don't ever partition the drives on a VM"
I'm assuming you meant once you created a VM, don't partition the drive inside of a VM?
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
I mean that don't even use the 480 GB SSD. In order to be useful, you need two of them in RAID 1. That will cost you more money to buy a second one. Start with two 1.92 GB SSDs, and if you need more capacity down the line, then you can uy another 480 GB drive, or two more of a large drive.

How many drive slots does your hardware have?
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Enough to do what you suggested..
Yep for Raid 1 I will pick up the second 1.92tb

So one option for now is:
Partition off the 1.92tb in 3 part's then?
OS, Data and logs?

As to the 480 and adding another 480 in reference to more capacity...
For what purpose? Something like file storage ?
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
The way virtualization works, is that you will start with Windows Server Standard with the Hyper-V role. When you create VMs, they will have several files on the file system. There are some configuration files, and there will be .bin files that represents the RAM of the VM should it get put into a saved (hibernated) state, and then there are VHDX files. Each VHDX file is the file that makes up the virtual hard drive for a VM. If your Exchange server has 3 drive letters (C, D, and E), then you should have 3 different VHDX files, one for each drive letter. Each VHDX can be expanded later, while the VM is online. This isn't possible in the virtual world. You can also thin provision (dynamically expanding) a VHDX, so that you can allocate say 40 GB, and the VM will see all 40 GB, but on the host file system, the VHDX will only consume say 20 GB after the OS is installed. It can grow up to 40 GB as data is written to it and the drive fills, but it doesn't start at full size, and may never get there.

Finally, in the old days we partitioned drives because we needed to, because the drive was say 80 GB and you wanted 10 GB for the OS, and the other 70 GB for data. The problem was when you needed to expand the C drive, and you couldn't because it wasn't the last partition on the disk. With virtualization, if you want 40 GB for the OS and 20 GB for Exchange program files, and 100 GB for Exchange databases, and 20 GB for Exchange logs, you have have 4 different VHDX attached to the VM. The VM will see those as 4 separate drives, and there is no need to do any partitioning of the drive from inside the VM. Each drive can then be expanded in the future.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
If the 192 TB isn't big enough to hold all VMs in the future, you could add a pair of 480 GB drives and then move some VHDX files over to it, such as your entire DC, and some of the VHDX for the Exchange Server VM.

File sharing hasn't been mentioned, but yes, you could have a VHDX for files shares on your DC VM, and a VHDX could get moved to another drive letter on the host. Hyper-V allows you to move VHDX to different storage while the VM is running.
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Ok... so wrapping my head around this...

So initially after installing the Hyper-V role and before creating VM's

Is there any benefit to partition off the OS to say... 100gb in size

Then create another partition for where I'll place the two VM's
or
partition off the OS to that 100gb or so..
and then create two partitions.. one for each vm?

and you mentioned "If your Exchange server has 3 drive letters (C, D, and E)"
which I assume you have for data, log's, etc
Is that something that happens inside the vm during install of exchange?
I'm not getting how those three drive letters(partitions?) are being formed?
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
For initial install of Windows Server on bare metal...

Should you partition off 100 GB for the hypervisor?
Maybe. I usually do. Advantage is that growth of growth of VMs won't impact space for the hyperisor, and vice versa. Downside it that you have smaller amount of storage to begin with. Do you know how much space the DC and Exchange will need? A DC will live fine on 40 GB, and will probably use more like 20 GB, if it is only a DC. If it's also a file server, then that depends on how much space you need to store files, plus I allow at least several more GB on a separate VHDX as a dedicated place to store shadow copies.

Downside is that you are dealing in physical world, so if you have VMs on separate partition and need a little bit more space for VMs, and have lots of free space on C for the hypervisor, you can't make D any larger. You can move a smaller VHDX from D to C, but that is maybe a 20 GB file.

In the other direction, imagine your C drive is only 30 GB for the hypervisor, and you need more space. Not much you can do other than try to delete some stuff, or repartition the host so that the C drive is larger. Those are not great options. It might be better to have just 1 large C drive, and the hypervisor and all the VMs live on that. That's not the worst thing in the world.

The systems I just replaced had 800 or 960 GB drives, and had the hypervisor on C partition of maybe 40 GB, and then 2 VMs on D. The VMs were a DC/file server, and terminal server. No Exchange. Windows 2012 R2.

1.92 TB might totally be fine. How big C partition needs to be also depends on what you're doing for backups, as your backup scheme may require significant space on C of the hypervisor.

and then create two partitions.. one for each vm
Absolutely not. You can dedicate a partition for all of your VMs, but don't dedicate a partition per VM. That greatly limits flexibility going forward. I will sometimes dedicate a SAN volume to a VM, but I also have the ability to still expand any other SAN volume, and I can easily move that VM to a different SAN volume and destroy the dedicated one. You don't have any of that flexibility with local storage on a host.
Network Engineer
Commented:
and you mentioned "If your Exchange server has 3 drive letters (C, D, and E)"
which I assume you have for data, log's, etc
Is that something that happens inside the vm during install of exchange?
I'm not getting how those three drive letters(partitions?) are being formed?
S
When creating the VM, you assign 1 or more VHDX as virtual hard drives to the VM. I actually recommend you start off with just the OS VHDX, and get the OS installed. Then you can add the additional VHDX to the SCSI controller of the VM, and then the VM will see those disks and they can be brought online, formatted, and assigned drive letters, just like you would with a physical disk.
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
OS Standard 2016 is currently installed but I haven't done anything else yet.
Was going to add the Hyper-V role next.

I lost you on the meaning of OD VHDX...
Did you mean the AD VHDX for Advanced Directory?
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
Corrected typo. OS VHDX. It is the VHDX (virtual C drive) where you install the OS of the VM.
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Got it...
Thanks for the patience and great advice!
I think the only thing left unanswered was partitioning off the OS that's installed now and leaving the remains space to start creating VM's
As to if there's any advantage or not
Michael HembergerIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all of your help!!
You guys are great!
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
I think the only thing left unanswered was partitioning off the OS that's installed now and leaving the remains space to start creating VM's
As to if there's any advantage or not

There are advantages as disadvantages. It depends a lot on how much space the VMs will need, and how much space the hypervisor will need. I don't think that can be worked out until you pick a backup solution, or at the very least have an idea of how big the VMs will be.

For maximum flexibility, leave the 1.92 TB SSD as just a single C drive for the host, and store all VMs on the C drive.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial