Virtualizing Exchange Server Roles

by Jaap Wesselius [Published on 1 June 2011 / Last Updated on 29 Nov. 2010]

When can you virtualize your Exchange 2010 Servers? Basically when the virtulization solution is certified in the Windows Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP):

You can virtualize all Exchange 2010 Server roles, except for the Unified Messaging server role. Because of the resource sharing in a virtualization platform in combination with the real time nature of voice processing you can get strange results. Especially when you have quite a number of inbound connections, or when you have multiple other Virtual Machines running on this platform. Be carefull, it does work on a virtualization platform, but it is not supported by Microsoft, just like virtualizing OCS 2007 R2.

There are a number of issues you have to be aware of:

  • Virtualization will cost approx. 10% additional processor utilization;
  • Use a maximum virtual:logical processor ratio larger than 2:1;
  • Do not mix a DAG with live migration or vmotion (not supported);
  • Do not use snapshots as a backup solution (not supported);
  • Use max. 4 virtual processors;
  • Use pass through or dedicated disks for best performance;
  • Design your virtual Exchange servers with the same specs as your physical Exchange server;
  • Use Jetstress and Loadgen to validate your virtual environment;

When you follow these guidelines and create a normal Exchange 2010 design you should be safe, and supported!

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The Author — Jaap Wesselius

Jaap Wesselius is an independant consulting working in the Netherlands. Jaap's focus is primarily on Exchange Server solutions, but he's also working on Hyper-V solutions since the first beta releases of Hyper-V. Before starting as an independant consultant, Jaap has worked for 8 years with Microsoft in The Netherlands, also in the Exchange Server arena. He has been working on Enterprise Exchange solutions, but also done a lot of working in Exchange Hosted Solutions (and before Hosted Exchange, in MCIS, but that was long ago ;-)

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