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Virtualized Exchange 2010?

Discussion in 'Virtual Computing' started by Theprof, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    Just out of curiosity, how many of you are running your exchange 2010 in a virtual environment? Now with the ability to split roles, we can install all the exchange server roles on multiple servers... In our case we're going with 4 VM's 2 that host the mailbox role for redundancy and 2 that host hub transport, CAS, etc... for redundancy as well. This will be sitting on a ESXi 4.1 environment to take advantage of the true 64bit architecture and if we go with the enterprise license for ESXi we're looking to use the vNetwork Distributed Switch.... And of course this is going to be a DAG. The idea here is to have High availability, vmotion, etc..

    Any recommendations? Funny that I am asking this as I remember that a few years back if you wanted to virtualize your exchange a lot of consultants would of been against that.
     
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  2. LukeP

    LukeP Gigabyte Poster

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    DAG and UM are not supported in virtual environment afaik m8.

    Edit: Sorry. Actually it is: http://www.jonathanmedd.net/2010/07/exchange-2010-dag-support-within-virtualised-clusters.html but only if you disable all HA features of VM.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
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  3. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    I shouldn't have said High availability... we will have two VM servers that host identical roles should one fail we have another one in an active/passive setup... both VM's will be sitting on separate ESXi hosts.
     
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  4. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    DAG is supported in a VM but MS do not support mixing HA features
    you cant use DAG and still use vMotion/storage vMotion (they even say HA but I leave that on)

    this is due to the fact that one of the HA methods can trip up the other if timeouts are not perfect and stuff

    personally i take the DAG and dont use the other features, this is fully supported

    and yes, every one of the last 10 Exchange 2010 migrations I have done has been virtual
    2 node, 4 node, or up (Just designing a 14 node for a multi national deployment)
     
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  5. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    Glad I asked! Thanks guys!
     
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  6. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

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    Yep no worries with virtualized route.

    Bear in mind that if you are using a DAG across two sites, you will need the FSW to be in a third location for the failover to work correctly.

    The reason I say this is all the literature states that DAG is now supported in a two site environment, however after spending 20 plus hours on this with MS as it did'nt work, I had a conference call with the Technical Lead for Exchange (who said it should work) and the Technical Lead for Clustering Team who said it wouldn't work.

    They then went away and read all the Technet articles and came back saying it doesn't work in a two site environment.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2011
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  7. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    We're running Exchange 2010 virtualised, single site only though.

    -Ken
     
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  8. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    The DAG is going to be in our HQ office... we might extend the DAG to another site down the line but for the time being it's going to be sitting in the HQ.
     
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  9. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    From a site availability perspective, if you lost the site with the FSW the other site would think it was the lost node and cease functioning, this is normal behavior for a FSW cluster as far as I know :)

    if the link between the two sites ceased working then obviously the one with the FSW would continue operating
     
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  10. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    Speaking of which, one should also read up on DAC and Alternate File Share Witnesses if attempting the more elaborate HA features of Exchange 2010 in disparate location setups.

    And as far as virtualization goes, only the Unified Messaging role should not be virtualized as it will have difficulties in handling audio content. And don't take lightly the recommended amount of RAM that should be installed for the servers (use the Exchange storage calculator for this). 4GB of ram or more please, anything less and there will be file swapping as Exchange seems to contain some hardcoded limits on reserving system memory and database memory (for the mailbox role primarily).

    Final tip: whilst it may seem like a good idea to split CAS and Hub from MBX roles and have 2 CAS/Hub servers and 2 MBX servers. Depending on the number of clients you have and availability of a Hardware Load Balancer, it may actually make more sense to just make 4 multi-role servers with all 3 roles, and balance the mailbox load between all of them. By doing this, you've just doubled the redundancy available to you, BUT it requires careful planning and even more careful use of the calculator...
     
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  11. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    We still have to agree on the main design/architecture of Exchange... right now we're at preliminary stages and trying to see what will work for us.... One thing I know for sure is that the exchange server will run on a VM in an ESXi 4.1 hypervisor with split roles... There's lots of research to be done and believe me when I say my colleague and I are working on this daily and we're in contact with a consultant. I've never done an exchange 2010 deployment myself so I rather work with someone who knows what they're doing and learning from them... Although I've learned a lot and I could probably put something together, I rather work with a consultant this one time to get it right the first time so that next time I can do this myself.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2011
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  12. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    True, however the next time you migrate to Exchange 2010 it may be a completely different project. Actually TBH if you don’t leave your current job you probably won’t have to work with migrating to Exchange 2010 again.

    From what you said already you seem to have a good understanding of what you need to implement. Why not discuss this with your colleague and perhaps take on the project yourself? Could be a big step forward for you and a great project to put on your C.V.
     
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  13. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    To be honest, most of this is going to be done by us... I feel confident with exchange 2010, my only weakness is VMware where I don't have much experience in yet. My colleague on the other hand is good with VMware so we can tackle this thing together and get done most of it at least... We were using the consultants to help us with the design and see other people's opinion and how they would it get done, etc... but everything is making sense and clicks well so it's a matter of just purchasing two servers and getting started.
     
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  14. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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  15. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    Yes this support was added last week
    as is full virtualization of the UM role
     
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  16. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

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    We're doing this at were I work at the mo and we're migrating or "swing transition" from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010. We're just having the one Exchange box on a VM but are using the MS iSCSI initiator within the VM to connect to two LUNs on our Equallogic SANs (Database LUN and Logs LUN).

    Still, it's one hell of a steep learning curve and the best thing for me was the Dell White Paper on Exchange 2010 running on the Equallogic SAN and of course the vmware white paper on Exchange 2010 best practices. However, a lot didn't apply to our situation because our business is a lot smaller than those discussed in the white papers.
     
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  17. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    My colleague finished installing the new ESXi 4.1 servers today so tonight I'll start with the exchange prep work by extending the AD schema. Looks like we'll be doing this whole migration ourselves... Should be interesting!
     
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  18. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

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    Mate you will be fine, with Exchange 2010 SP1 it does everything for you when you click install apart from the Microsoft Office Filter Pack.

    Then create your interconnects with Exchange 2003 and then move some mailboxes and test.
     
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  19. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    Additionally, if your host OS is 2008 R2 with SP1, you won't have to worry about the myriad of additional packages that need to be installed on CAS holding servers.

    I can also provide a small update regarding virtualization of the UM role. The documentation mentions that UM should be installed with 4 cores and 16 GB of RAM. However, this is incorrect and will be updated after I asked the Product Group for clarification on calculating RAM usage. Essentially, it should be 2GB per core, thus 8GB of RAM max (any more than this will almost certainly go to waste). And collocating the UM role with other roles will work in a virtualized environment, but the Product Group recommends against it as they have only done full performance testing figures for virtualized servers that only hold the UM role. When you add Hub, CAS, etc, the testing becomes considerably more awkward due to the nature of UM.

    Cliffs notes: If you want to virtualize UM, use 4 cores and set them for exclusive use (don't enable sharing/dynamic allocation) with 8 GB of RAM and don't collocate other roles on the machine. This will produce the best results.
     
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  20. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    I agree, does not look too complex... like I said before I am pretty comfortable with exchange it's the VMware stuff that I need training on ;)
     
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