MsExchange Blog Spot Telnet25

January 2, 2013

Exchange 2010 Virtualization or NOT

Filed under: General — telnet25 @ 4:53 pm

One of the most frequent asked question around design and deployment scenarios , should business go for virtualization when it comes to deploying Exchange 2010 and newest versions. This has almost be the hot topic to be honest and I wanted to highlight some of the bullet point to help for those who need to give the similar decisions on your deployment project.

Before we deep dive into Virtualization we need to be clear about combined roles in Exchange 2010 deployment and talk about it how much it make sense ?

One of the most significant difference in between Exchange 2010 and 2013 is the simplicity, and doing things in easy and more efficient way. The server roles reduction in Exchange 2013 is one of the example, so let’s take a quick look server roles so we do understand and give better decision on combining server roles.



Reduced Server Roles


I am personally favoring to go for Virtualization when it is possible and makes sense for the business and here are some of the compelling reasons why I think the Virtualization is the way to go.

The Exchange server application is more and more focusing about the idea of simplicity, getting things done in simple way while providing better services and of course this statement will expand from server perspective to end user experience.

Virtualization Benefits ( Exchange 2010 and 2013)

  • Reduced server hardware costs
  • Power and space saving
  • Improved server utilization
  • Fast Server provisioning
  • Under-utilized hardware, and can reduce hardware and maintenance costs
  • Virtualization provides organizations additional choice and deployment flexibility to meet business requirements and lower IT costs and complexity
  • Combining Roles does it make sense?

The answer IMO to this is real short and yes, if you ever design any environment you will quickly see the reduction on the server numbers once they are combined, Remember the most reason ratio for CAS and MBX server, one to one. So if you have 10MBX Server you will need 10 CAS Servers and most probably you will combine CAS & HTS Servers , this is what most people have been doing since Exchange 2007.

Now imagine if you combine HTS, CAS and MBX roles the server count in the same example reduces 50 percent and this is why I am all for combining roles which makes the most sense.

Microsoft Official Stand for Virtualization

Does Microsoft support combining roles and Virtualizing Exchange 2010 servers ? The answer is yes , see below official support statement from MSExchange Team.

  • Hypervisor-based clustering, high availability, or migration solutions that will move or automatically failover mailbox servers that are members of a DAG between clustered root servers, is now supported.
  • The Unified Messaging server role is supported in a virtualized environment.
  • Combining Exchange 2010 high availability solutions (database availability groups (DAGs)) with hypervisor-based clustering, high availability, or migration solutions that will move or automatically failover mailbox servers that are members of a DAG between clustered root servers, is now supported.

When Exchange Server roles are combined there will be additional administrative overhead managing Exchange Servers and also few things to take into considerations

  • HUB transport Server and mail submission Service default behavior
  • DAG implementation, FSW Consideration in DAG
  • Multi Role deployment Server patching overhead and recommendations

Here is more comprehensive Information.

Conclusion: As you can see from this short post , there are good enough reasons, why to start with multi role deployment and take advantage of Virtualization technologies when deploying Exchange 2010 and 2013 versions.Remember the more simple design is the “best” design in most of the cases. Exchange 2013 has many futures simplifies such deployment and brings on a table huge IOPS reduction. Here is projected IOPS comparison.


Oz Casey, Dedeal ( MVP north America)
MCSE 2003, M+, S+, MCDST
Security+, Project +, Server + (Blog) (Blog)



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