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Each role in the SharePoint farm have finer nuances that need to be taken into account before deciding whether it is a good candidate for virtualization. This topic highlight some of the key considerations for each role in your farm.
This topic discusses:
The web role’s responsibility in a SharePoint farm is to respond to user requests for pages. This involves fetching content from the SharePoint databases and “look and feel” from the database and file system and then rendering, caching (depending on settings), and returning the page to the user. It is a good candidate for virtualization, as long as SharePoint architects take a few key factors into consideration:
The query role’s responsibility is to respond to search requests from the web role and secondly to maintain a propagated copy of the index stored on the Query servers local file system. It is a good candidate for virtualization, as long as SharePoint architects take a few key factors into consideration:
The index role’s responsibility is to maintain an up-to-date index by crawling the index corpus using the configured incremental and full crawl schedules. It then needs to propagate the index to all the query servers. The Index server role in a SharePoint farm is often times the most memory intensive role, making it a less ideal candidate for virtualization if SharePoint already consumes all the memory the physical server has available. This by no means rules it out as a candidate to be virtualized, it simply reduces the advantages that can be gained by virtualizing the server, as more of the host’s resources will need to be dedicated to the task.
To increase index role suitability for virtualization might entail increasing memory the physical host server has available, therefore taking advantage of the consolidation effects with other workloads. Alternatively the virtualized index server could be moved to a larger system to host it side by side with other workloads of the SharePoint farm. In the end this really depends on the available infrastructure as well as the deployment goals of the SharePoint farm.
Other role’s, such as Excel Services, document conversions services are good candidates for virtualization. These roles are similar to the web server role in that, as resource requirements of the individual application increase, additional servers can be added to the farm.
The database role’s responsibility is store, maintain and return data to the other roles in the farm. This role has the highest amount of disk IO activity and can often have very high memory and processor requirements. Virtualization of SQL Server 2005 and 2008 is supported. Depending on your environment's requirements will determine whether you choos physical or virtual deployment options.
The argument for physical:
If you decide to virtualize the database layer:
Do you have any tips and learning's from your environment? Post a comment and I will add to the lists and series.
This article was authored by:
Brian Wilson Senior Consultant Microsoft Consulting Services UK Brian.Wilson@Microsoft.com
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