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Has anybody run Exchange on a VM hosted by a AD/SQL Microsoft 2012 R2 server?

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Last Modified: 2020-02-13
I am proposing a major upgrade for one of my clients.

Up till now, we have been using a 3rd party registrar for business emails. Lately my client continues to ask for additional emails accounts to be setup - exceeding our purchased quota. I have also been pressed for synchronization on inboxes with iphones. For the time I have been configuring via IMAP.  Needless to say, they have out grown this basic email package.

Yes I have considered Office 365 Business, and Premium w/ Exchange, but, I want to investigate my options in-house. I can't seem to get past that reoccurring annual charge.

We currently have a 1 Dell PE R320 running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. There are 13 users in the office environment, 10 out in the field.  We have a 3rd party business application running off of SQL on this same server. Our system comes with the ability to created 2 VM'S, running the Server 2012 R2 Standard. I'm thinking great, I don't have to spend another 2,500 on a server, I'll use what I already have. Then I read the following on Microsoft:

•      Only management software (for example, antivirus software, backup software, or virtual machine management software) can be deployed on the physical host machine. No other server-based applications (for example, Exchange, SQL Server, Active Directory, or SAP) should be installed on the host machine. The host machine should be dedicated to running guest virtual machines.

So, that is the warning. Has anybody actually tried to do this, and was successful? Am I asking for trouble running Exchange 2019 on a VM?

In the mean time, I am investigating refurbished servers to lower the cost. I am thinking MS Essentials Server 2019 which includes 25 user CAL'S (only 15 LAN users).

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thank you
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VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
Do you have Hyper-V currently running ?

Don't do it...... make sure you have a dedicated server for Hyper-V and then create the VMs, based on your resources.

Do not enable Hyper-V on the current server which is SQL/DC, and create VMs.

Am I asking for trouble running Exchange 2019 on a VM?

Bucket loads of issues you do not want in your life!

Don't do it, or recommend it to your client....
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Commented:
There are better, cheaper options than exchange.
Look at hmailserver, mercury mail, if UNIX/Linux is an option, there are many possibilities there.

Commonly, SQL is a resource intensive. What is the storage infrastructure.


What does the SQL host do?

Backup solutions in place to preserve....
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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GeeMoonIT Consultant

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Commented:
Hey Andrew,

That's all I needed to hear!!! Yep, I was feeling this approach can't be healthy. Thank you for confirming that truth. I also get the impression, based on your response, never enable Hyper-V within a live server OS, utilize a separate standalone bare metal Hyper-visor instead- correct?

Thank you
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
You really need to plan a Hypervisor, specify the correct server build, CPUs, Memory, Storage.

then install server OS and Enable, and then create VMs.

VMs can solve all you problems, in terms of backup, recovery, and you should not really be installing anything else other than virtual.

Maybe it's time to advise them to purchase a new larger server, see Philips Articles above, they are top notch!!!
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
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Commented:
Additional considerations:
Exchange 2019 requires Server 2019 (maybe 2016, definitely will not work with 2012 so you'll need a new server OS).

Essentials does NOT come with CALs.  Essentials does not REQUIRE CALs.  It's 50 devices/25 user accounts.  If you add any other servers to the mix, you then must buy CALs for all the users - again, none included, so you'd have to buy 25 if that's the user count.  (And if it is, essentials is not a good fit since that's already the max).

Further, while you could virtualize your existing server and wipe and reload, you have resource considerations.  Yes, you may not need to buy a new server, but you'd very likely need more RAM, maybe more CPU capability (which might not be possible to upgrade without replacing the whole system), and disk is very important - you might need to replace your RAID array or add multiple arrays... and faster disks.  

While you should absolutely be considering virtualization and putting it in everywhere you manage servers, you need to understand it before you do so.  Virtualization is not new - it's been available in Windows for 12 years now and with VMWare longer than that.  It's benefits are varied and definitely worth it in almost any environment.  But doing it wrong will cause you headaches!
GeeMoonIT Consultant

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Commented:
Hey Arnold,

Thanks for your quick response.

I assume your response was out of concern for a potential lack of HW resources, and that I never intended to run Exchange on the host 2012 OS build,  containing SQL, hence my question regarding Exchange on a VM. I was looking to separate the two, but you are correct, I would need the hardware to support it.

I believe the safer choose is to purchase a new, or refurbished Windows server. Then run it as a member server specifically for Exchange.

I will also look into your suggested mail services.

Thank you
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Commented:
Everything you have can run in A VM environment. DC/DNS/DHCP SQL app, exchange.
All can be run on a single host properly cpu/ram storage....

Sorry skipped that answer.
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Commented:
Regarding the MS EULA saying the host must not run non-management tasks just make a VM of the current server, test it works on a network isolated PC, wipe current system and install a clean OS copy for your hypervisor and import the original. As it involves a long downtime you may think of upgrading RAM and disk.

You probably can run SQL on the host even if illegally, you could run it on Storage Server which had similar EULA restrictions because legal software such as anti-virus and backup software sometimes has SQL embedded in it.
GeeMoonIT Consultant

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Commented:
Good Advice Lee,


My Dell PE R320 definitely has room to grow. I had all intentions of adding memory and Hard drives, if I were to go the VM route.

You, and Andrew are dead on as it relates to the proper planning/required knowledge base before I proceed with virtualization. I am of that same mind set, hence my start with a question in Expert Exchange. I am just working on the global picture in an effort to derive a solid solution. Then I will do all that is required to implement in a safe, secure, structured manner.

Thank you all
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Commented:
Unfortunately, the first foray into virtualization is often capital intensive as commonly more complex when there is a single server environment.

If memory serves, your server is a single CPU depending on which, both SQL and Exchange are memory consumers they will take as much as you will give them.
Best option if you have a resource either a Windows 10 workstation with hyper-v or a server platform where you can download a Windows server 2019,2016 eval version to test/practice with.
Andrew has many articles on Vmware as that is what I used. Though I think he may also have for hyper-v, click on his name and search through his articles.
David Johnson, CDSimple Geek from the '70s
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Commented:
What Microsoft is saying by the Hyper-V host should only be using that role ONLY is that if you don't you burn one of the Virtual OS licenses. This evens out the field between hyper-v, ESXI, LVM's