11th November 2008: Microsoft Messaging & Mobility User Group UK Gathering

So 16 people made it to this month MMMUG meeting at Microsoft in Victoria for a chat on Virtualization by Clive Watson & Brett Johnson

Hyper-V runs  on Windows Server 2008 with Intel VT or AMD-V hardware.  You may need to enable virtualization in a servers BIOS and this may need to power cycle the server (a reboot may not be enough!)

  • It is possible to “hack” Hyper V so enable wireless connection
  • Windows 2008 R2, maybe able to let you change memory and disk etc when a Virtual Machine is running. 
    • R2 will also support up to 256 processor cores!
    • Will also have live migrations
  • With SP1 for Data Protection Manager, it will be Hyper-V aware
  • Hyper-V Server is a freebie (32gb memory,  4cpu’s,can’t cluster) essentially windows 2008 core, standalone
  • Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager allows you to manage your virtual and physical machines from a single pane.
    • It looks a bit like Outlook and uses Powershell behind the scenes
    • Has the ability to connect to VMware Virtual Centre
    • It uses a SQL database in the backend
      • For fault tolerance you need to look at the SQL database
    • Can do v-v and p-v
    • User roles looks like a good addition to control who can do “what” to the virtual machines
    • Self service portal is a web site for managing virtual machines
  • New NIC cards will soon be able to offload a lot of stuff from the virtual root/parent

Exchange and Virtualisation

  • The main drivers are consolidation of servers ¦ DR
  • Issue is around supportability of Exchange
    • Exchange is probably in the top 3 mission critical applications
    • Do you get the same problem on a physical server vs.. a virtual machine
      • If Yes kewl, it’s Exchange
      • If No, assumption is the interaction between Exchange and Virtualisation layer
    • Microsoft can “fix! it’s virtualisation technology, but not 3rd parties
      • SVVP (Server Virtualisation Validation Program)
        • VMware ESX 3.5 Update 2 has been added

The only supported version of Exchange in a virtualised environment is Exchange 2007 SP1 running on Windows 2008.

  • Microsoft now have an agreement with VMware to help troubleshoot virtualisation issues

With virtualising Exchange we need to understand:

  • Virtual parent is the host running the virtual machine
  • Virtual guest will have virtual disks (VHD) – File (easy to move around)
    • Fixed & Dynamic Disks
    • Recommended to use Fixed disk as performance issues with dynamic disks
  • Pass-through disk is a raw disk
  • Be mindful of the Hyper-V Virtual Machine State File (VSV) and Temporary Memory Storage (BIN) and differencing VHD’s
  • The UM role is not supported in a virtualised environment
  • Page file is 15gb + VM Memory Size = minimum VHD Size
  • Preference is SCSI pass-through for Hub & MBX database & log files
  • All disks should honour I/O stream segregation (Separate database and Log LUNs)
  • Fibre Channel / SCSI HBAs must be configured to Root/Parent, and LUNs presented to VMs as pass-through or VHDs
  • iSCSI has some performance issues due to the network stack
    • Separate iSCSI gigabit network
    • Dedicated NIC with Jumbo frame and no virtual switch
  • backup exchange from the Child/Guest


  • Performance is actually quite good when running Exchange 2007 SP1 on Hyper-V.  Scales well with 1-4 processors.
  • Storage and network design require consideration of CPU impact on the Host/Parent machine.
  • Need to also consider monitoring the Host/Parent
  • For performance testing of a virtual machine, you need to check the Host/Parent and Child/Guest machines
  • Should give virtual machines dedicate processors
  • Virtualisation of exchange does not change the exchange design
    • Design for Performance /reliability  and capacity (MBX/Hub/Edge)
    • Design for Usage Profiles (CAS/MBX)
    • Design for Message Profiles (Hub/Edge)
    • Provides new mobility solutions
    • Provides flexibility on system configuration
  • Hyper-V quick migration
    • Clustered hyper-v server
    • Move exchange to other clustered host/parent
      • Pause exchange and move
      • exchange “instance” is just moved
    • Unplanned fail over
      • dirty shutdown
  • Hyper-V enables 50% reduction on physical server count
  • Edge, Hub and CAS are excellent examples of virtualised roles
  • In the enterprise, the mailbox role is better on physical hardware due to disk I/O and storage

It does appear that Hyper-V is finally catching up with VMware

Other things to note: