Welcome!

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Cognitive Computing , Silverlight, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Microsoft Cloud: Blog Post

Best Practices for Virtualizing Microsoft Exchange in Private Clouds

Resource-intensive scale-out nature of heavy duty workload requires special planning

In my Private Cloud talks with IT Pros, how best to virtualize Microsoft Exchange workloads, regardless of underlying hypervisor, has been a recurring hot topic area of discussion.  At Microsoft Tech Ed 2012, Jeff Mealiffe, Senior Program Manager on the Exchange team and responsible for Exchange virtualization guidance, delivered a great session on "Best Practices for Virtualizing Microsoft Exchange Server 2010".  This is a great resource to study when planning virtualized Exchange deployments! Below, I've included the following items to help you get started with virtualizing Exchange:

  • The recorded session video
  • A link to the downloadable slide deck
  • An indexed recap of my session notes
  • Links to additional tools and resources that I've personally found helpful

I'm definitely looking forward to building my next virtualized deployment of Exchange 2010 on Windows Server 2012 RTM when it releases on Sept 4th!  The increased VM resource densities in Hyper-V v3 of up to 64 virtual processors and 1TB RAM per virtual machine will be a big boost to virtualizing mission critical heavy-duty workloads like Exchange mailbox server roles and multi-role servers.

Download a copy of the session slide deck.

Session Notes with Video Index

  • Supported Exchange Virtualization Scenarios [ 4:00 ]
    • Exchange 2010 SP1 or later
    • Hyper-V or any hypervisor in the Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) - link provided below.
  • Items Not Supported when Virtualizing Exchange [ 7:00 ]
    • Hypervisor snapshots
    • Differencing / Delta disks
    • CPU oversubscription in a ratio > 2:1
    • Applications running on the parent / root partition
    • VSS backups of VMs from root
    • NAS storage of virtual disk files
  • JetStress Support in Virtualized Environments [ 12:10 ]
    • Supported in VMs on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 or later
    • Supported in VMs on Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 or later
    • Supported in VMs on VMware ESX 4.1 or later
    • More Info - http://bit.ly/HP8G0f
  • Big Problems to Avoid for Production Exchange VMs [ 17:53 ]
    • Dynamic Memory / Memory Overcommit  [ 18:00 ]
    • VM Snapshots [ 31:57 ]
    • CPU Oversubscription [ 35:05 ]
  • Overview of Best Practices [ 38:05 ]
    • Hypervisor adds CPU overhead - 10-12% in our Exchange 2010 tests [ 39:22 ]
    • Size for physical and provide those resources to each VM [ 40:31 ]
    • Exchange is architected for scale-out scenarios, avoid "all eggs in one basket" [ 40:48 ]
  • Resource Sizing [ 43:16 ]
    • Start with physical sizing process - use calculator (listed below)
    • Account for virtualization overhead (10-12%)
    • Determine VM placement to account for HA
    • Size root servers, storage and network infrastructure
  • Guest VM sizing [ 47:18 ]
    • Size Mailbox role first - other role sizes factored from Mailbox server requirements
    • Considerations for use of Multi-role servers - Mailbox, Hub and CAS roles on single VM
  • Unified Messaging Sizing [ 49:08 ]
    • Min 4 Virtual Processors (VP)
    • VM with 4VP & 16GB memory can handle 40 concurrent calls with Voice Mail Preview (65 calls without)
  • Storage Decisions [ 52:47 ]
    • Exchange storage separate from Guest OS virtual disk physical storage
    • Must be fixed virtual disk, SCSI pass-through (RDM) or iSCSI (terminated at host or guest)
    • SCSI pass-through (RDM) recommended to host queues, DBs and logfile streams unless using Hyper-V Live Migration where CSV is recommended
    • Must be block-level storage - NAS volumes not supported
  • Virtual Processors [ 56:04 ]
    • Prefer smaller number of multi-core VMs vs many single-core VMs
    • Don't assume that a hyperthreaded (SMT) CPU is a full CPU core
  • Private Cloud [ 57:08 ]
    • Good model for providing virtual infrastructure resources to Exchange, but be careful with "dynamic" cloud capabilities
    • Be prepared to apply different resource management policies to Exchange VMs
  • Host-based Failover Clustering [ 59:41 ]
    • Not an "Exchange Aware" HA Solution - Does not provide HA in the event of storage failure / data corruption
    • If using, combine with DAG when possible to provide maximum HA - Admin can re-balance DAG after failover to redistribute
  • VM Live Migration and Exchange [ 01:04:50 ]
    • DAG does not need to be dynamically re-balanced
    • Use CSV rather than pass-through LUNS for all Mailbox VM storage
    • Consider relaxing cluster heartbeat timeouts (5 seconds = default, 30 seconds = max recommended)
    • Size network appropriately for Live Migration
  • VM Placement [ 01:08:26 ]
    • Don't co-locate DAG database copies on same physical hosts
    • Distribute VMs running same roles to different physical hosts
    • If not using multi-role VM's, consider isolating mailbox and hub role VMs on separate physical hosts if possible

Additional Tools and Resources

Build Your Lab! Build Your Lab! Download Windows Server 2012
Build Your Lab in the Cloud! Don’t Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines
Join our "Early Experts" study group! Want to Get Certified? Join our Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Study Group
Like IT Pros ROCK! Do IT Pros ROCK? Please VOTE for us!

More Stories By Keith Mayer

Keith Mayer is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 17 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT professionals worldwide on the design and implementation of enterprise technology solutions.

Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.

Keith is the author of the IT Pros ROCK! Blog on Microsoft TechNet, voted as one of the Top 50 "Must Read" IT Blogs.

Keith also manages the Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge - a FREE online study group for IT Pros interested in studying and preparing for certification on Windows Server 2012. Join us and become the next "Early Expert"!

Latest Stories
Interested in leveling up on your Cloud Foundry skills? Join IBM for Cloud Foundry Days on June 7 at Cloud Expo New York at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Foundry Days is a free half day educational conference and networking event. Come find out why Cloud Foundry is the industry's fastest-growing and most adopted cloud application platform.
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale, a global pure play Infrastructure as a Service provider and strategic partner of Dassault Systèmes, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2010, Outscale simplifies infrastructure complexities and boosts the business agility of its customers. Outscale delivers a secure, reliable and industrial strength solution for its customers, which in...
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
When NSA's digital armory was leaked, it was only a matter of time before the code was morphed into a ransom seeking worm. This talk, designed for C-level attendees, demonstrates a Live Hack of a virtual environment to show the ease in which any average user can leverage these tools and infiltrate their network environment. This session will include an overview of the Shadbrokers NSA leak situation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, will motivate why realizing the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insigh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Interoute is the owner operator of Europe's largest network and a global cloud services platform, which encompasses over 70,000 km of lit fiber, 15 data centers, 17 virtual data centers and 33 colocation centers, with connections to 195 additional partner data centers. Our full-service Unifie...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assis...
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, w...
As enterprise cloud becomes the norm, businesses and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance related to data privacy and information protection. The most recent, Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU’s GDPR have board level implications and companies still struggle with demonstrating due diligence. Developers and DevOps leaders, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by in...