Introduction

 

With the release of SP2 for Exchange 2003 we have published the support policy for Exchange Server 2003 running on hardware virtualization software KB article:

 

http://support.microsoft.com/?id=320220

 

Exchange 2003 SP2 on MSVS 2005 R2 Test Summary

 

The support policy described in the article above is a result of a team effort conducted by the Exchange CXP Solutions, MSIT, the VS product group, and Exchange SP2 Test teams:

 

  • MSVS 2005 R2 Tested in SP2 RC Pass: Portions of the Exchange SP2 RC tests were run on MS Virtual Server R2 to ensure that no blocking issues related to virtualization were found.
  • 2 months of production:  VDF-MSG-02 is currently in production hosting 200 Exchange 2003 SP2 production mailboxes with unnoticeable difference in the user experience and performance number under acceptable values. VDF-MSG-02 is a virtual machine on a host running Virtual Server 2005 R2.
  • Best Practices and Support requirements defined:  Specific configuration requirements and recommendations are listed in the KB article based upon the production experience and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 performance.

Support policy for Exchange Server 2003

 

Microsoft supports Exchange Server 2003 running on hardware virtualization software (virtual machines) only when all the following conditions are true:

 

  • The hardware virtualization operating system is Virtual Server 2005 R2 or a later version
  • The version of Exchange Server that is running on the virtual machine is Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) or a later version
  • The Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Virtual Machine Additions are installed on the guest operating system
  • Exchange Server 2003 is configured as a stand-alone server, not as part of a Windows cluster
  • The SCSI driver that is installed on the guest operating system is the Microsoft Virtual Machine PCI SCSI Controller driver

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Do we support Exchange Server 2003 SP1 or below on Virtual Server?

A: No, Virtual Server testing was introduced only on SP2, so that is the minimum version we support.

 

Q: Do we support Exchange Server 2003 SP2 on Virtual Server 2005 RTM?

A: No, Microsoft Virtual Server 2003 R2 is the version that the Exchange 2003 SP2 tests and production testing ran on so it is the minimum required version.

 

Q: When Microsoft Virtual Server R2 is going to be available?

A: It is expected to be available in November/2005.

 

Q: Do we support Exchange on other virtualization platforms?

A: Microsoft has a general support policy for running Microsoft software in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. The policy also applies to any version of Exchange Server that is running in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. The link is on the KB article.

 

Q: Why is Exchange clustering not supported?

A: Because it was not a tested scenario for this version of Virtual Server.

 

Q: How do we determine the scalability limitations of Exchange 2003 SP2 when running on Virtual Server?

A: Use the Exchange load simulation tools in the same way you would for a physical machine.

 

Q: I ran Loadsim and Jetstress simulating the expected user profile and number/size of mailboxes and the performance looks good. What else should I worry about?

A: You need to determine how long it is going to take to backup Exchange over the network and validate that against the SLA for backup time, in order to determine the number of mailboxes that will reside on that server. Also, you need to ensure that you consider the load of all virtual machines on the same host. The overall host performance will impact the virtual server performance.

 

Q: If I run Exchange on a virtual machine, can I just backup the VHD files?

A: No, Exchange backups are still required in order to provide a proper data recovery and transaction logs commit.

 

Q: Where can I find best practices for configuring Virtual Server?

A: See the MS Virtual Server administrator’s guide. The link is on the KB article.

 

- The Exchange Team