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Deploying Exchange 2007 on VMWare?

Deploying Exchange 2007 on VMWare?

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VMWare Podcasts – VMWAre Infrastructure 3 Podcast: Disaster Recovery (DR) for Exchange using VMWare @ http://www.vmware.com/resources/podcasts/server_consolidation.html
by Scott Salyer, VMware Technical Solutions Architect

  1. Using VMWare infrastructure we can help increase the flexibility of your high availability solution for exchange
  2. Reduce cost
  3. Enhance availability of Exchange through VMWare and MS Exchange features

Scott makes a lot of the inflexibility of a non-VMWare Exchange design – you have to stick to your design decisions – using VMWare is more flexible if your original design requirements change.  ..would still argue that getting your requirements straight to begin with and sticking to an environment lifecycle is pretty key to a successful Exchange deployment regardless of platform.  ..good podcast and worth a listen although I’d love to see more detail about recovery processes for different scenarios and some expectations about data loss.

Secure and Consolidated 16,000 Exchange Users Solution on a VMWare/EMC Environment @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/resources/16000_exchange_on_vmware.pdf
(published May last year)

“The purpose of this white paper is to validate the building-block guidelines for virtualizing an Exchange 2007 Mailbox server role using a real-world deployment scenario. VMWare ESX 2.5 was used to host the Exchange Server 2007 virtual machines. All periperal (AD, HUB, and CAS) server roles were also hosted on VMWare virtual machines. EMC CLARiiON CX3-80 storage was used to host the Exchange database and log storage, and EMC Replication Manager software was used to test backup/restore functionality for the virtualized Mailbox servers.”

image

16,000 users, 0.32 IOPS per mailbox – Loadgen and Jetstress used to test the deployment.

“Conclusion
The solution validated the building-block approach to virtualizing an Exchange 2007 Mailbox server with VMWare and EMC CLARiiON storage”…

Good results but sounds like a pretty expensive solution for Exchange 2007 which would negate a lot of the benefits of deploying Exchange 2007 on VMWare in the first place.  To me it doesn’t make a good enough case against making the most of your hardware and dedicating it to Exchange with more cost effective storage.

Deploy Exchange on a Dynamic Platform @ http://www.vmware.com/solutions/business-critical-apps/exchange/performance.html

“Increase the Capacity of Physical Servers by 100%
Double the number of mailboxes supported per physical host from 8,000 to 16,000 heavy mailbox users. Without VMware, a single Exchange mailbox running on a physical server can scale up to about 8,000 heavy user mailboxes. Using larger servers doesn’t help because the mailbox can’t leverage the additional capacity.

With VMware, Exchange mailboxes can be scaled out on multiple smaller virtual machines to maximize the throughput of the physical server. Using this approach, Exchange can be scaled out on 8 Virtual Machines, each supporting 2,000 heavy mailbox users, to support 16,000 users on one physical server.

This performance advantage will amplify over time with the introduction of larger multicore systems. Without VMware, Exchange will not be able to use the additional capacity of these servers. With VMware, Exchange will scale out linearly to efficiently use the additional capacity.”

Virtualization Performance Basics @ http://www.vmware.com/overview/performance/overview.html

“By running multiple virtual machines simultaneously, a physical server can be driven to much higher utilizations, albeit with some performance overhead.”

“Virtualization does not decrease the amount of RAM required to run an application and its host operating system, and like any software, the virtualization layer requires its own portion of RAM…”

When multiple virtual machines are consolidated on a single physical server, they can impact I/O performance with their combined file size and simultaneous need for rapid access to stored data.

“VMware solutions help to improve I/O performance through the VMware vStorage VMFS, which provides virtual machines with simultaneous access to shared data stores. Centralized storage helps reduce latency and increase throughput, and provides the foundation for unique capabilities such as live migration and consolidated backup.”

Where are the up to date performance benchmarks?  They still don’t seem to exist.

..and some other links I’m sure you’ve already seen.

Should You Virtualize Your Exchange 2007 SP1 Environment?
Microsoft Support Policies and Recommendations for Exchange Servers in Hardware Virtualization Environments
Windows Server Virtualization Validation Program
Exchange 2007 System Requirements
Server Virtualization with Advanced Management (SVAM) Service Offering

  • The main ability of any VMware solution is twofold:

    1) VMmotion makes it possible to create a physical machine from a virtual one and vice versa

    2) The ability to migrate the server from one VMware node to another means that if resources become sparse on one server, you bring up another and migrate it with 0 downtime.

    To me, having this ability is priceless...on any level.

  • Agree - but shouldn't replace the need to design for Exchange Server properly in the first instance.  If you're designing in the Enterprise more often than not dedicating the hardware to Exchange Server is more appropriate and more cost effective than virtualising it.  You can make a great case for virtualising many apps and even Exchange Server in some corner cases but in most cases it doesn't make sense in my opinion...

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