AP09 Virtualizing Exchange 2007 and BlackBerry Enterprise on VMware Infrastructure

This breakout session attracted quite a lot of attendees (estimate around 500). A really good presentation giving best practises presented by VMware staff. Conclusion is that Exchange Server 2007 can perfectly be virtualized. Nowadays VMware customers do not ask VMware to prove if Exchange can be virtualized with acceptable performance, but they ask what the best configuration is for a virtualized Exchange Server 2007. 

Besides that, Microsoft now supports Exchange Server 2007 running on virtualized machines. This is another reason for virtualizing Exchange.

Exchange Server 2007 is not really scalable on physical server hardware. Going from one CPU to two CPU’s the performance improves by almost 100 %. But adding a third or even fourth CPU will not lead to a linear improvment of performance. That means on physical hardware adding more CPU’s is wasting CPU resources at the end.

Best practise for virtualing Exhange is not scale up but scale out. Meaning use more VM’s with one or two vCPU’s instead of one or two VM with 4 CPU’s.

VMware is using 4 Exchange Server 2007 VM’s having 4000 mailboxes each in their infrastructure hosted on a single ESX host with 128 GB of RAM. CPU utilization is around 40 %.

Microsoft did a lot to improve the performance on the disk io in Exchange 2007. While Exchange 2003 was limited in the size of cache because of the 4 GB memory limit, Exchange 2007 as 64-bit only can use lots of memory for caching reducing the need to access the database on disk. Severall ways to make Exchange 2007 high available were showed, using techniques like HA, HA and Local Continuous Replication, HA and Cluster Continuous Replication and HA and Standby continuous replication.

Before virtualization of your physical Exchange Servers you should do an inventory using the Microsoft Exchange Server Profile Analyzer. 

Performance on VMFS and RDM discs is almost the same. RDM discs are just a little bit more faster. The only reason to use RDM is for functionality. Some suppliers of SAN have tools that only function with RDM discs. Do not choose for RDM because of performance reasons!

Research in motion (RIM) did performance benchmarks together with VMware a few weeks ago. The conclusion of those tests is that Blackberry Enterprise Server is a perfect candidate for virtualization. Best practise is to use less than 1o00 users per BES server. Exchange Server mailbox rol, a domain controller and a BES server can perfectly run on the same ESX host delivering bus speed performance.

Both Microsoft and RIM give full support for running Exchange 2007 and BES on VMware ESX.


About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

One Response to AP09 Virtualizing Exchange 2007 and BlackBerry Enterprise on VMware Infrastructure

  1. Pingback: VMworld 2009 Europe Linkage » Yellow Bricks

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