External storage is necessary to take advantage of all the features of VMware. Storage Area Networks (SAN) cost has been a major barrier for small business. Fortunately, VMware works with iSCSI storage and a number of entry level choices exist including the Thecus storage we reviewed previously.
Before spending the money on entry-level storage, perhaps the most cost effective path is to configure Openfiler with iSCSI so you can fully evaluate the features of VMware. Setup is simple with many step by step instructions available on the web for those new to this software.
As a reference prototype, you’ll want to configure at least two ESX hosts and external iSCSI storage. Once you have proven the benefits, consider carefully what features are necessary for your production version of external iSCSI storage.
Whatever storage you choose, you’ll want to look carefully at array to array replication capabilities. Those features will help you with projects such as disk backup and business continuity.
Paul Ely | Technical Operations Director | E-Oasis
Running Exchange on VMware doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a quick road map to help you get started.
- Establish a production-ready ESX platform.
- Build your Virtual Machines for Exchange
- Establish the connector between your existing exchange and your exchange 2007
- Migrate User Mailboxes
- Plan some Soak time and then retire your old exchange server
Establish a production-ready 64 bit ESX platform.
Does it make any sense to virtualize your exchange environment and fail to end up on a supportable production-ready platform? Use a reference architecture rather than re-inventing the wheel. Check the VMware compatibility list before choosing ESX hosts. Pay for the licensed version of ESX and seriously consider using a SAN or NAS. Put Virtualcenter on a box outside the ESX environment. Address backup and restore concerns before proceeding.
Build your Virtual Machines for Exchange
The simplest configuration would be to start with one Virtual Machine. However, you should consider at least splitting the exchange environment into two machines. Client Access and Mailbox Server (or servers).
Establish the connector between your existing exchange and your exchange 2007
You must configure the routing group connectors between Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2007 so that the two servers can co-exist.
Migrate User Mailboxes
Start with a test mailbox and migrate it to the new VMware environment. Don’t forget to test moving a mailbox back to your old environment. When you are satisfied, stage the mailbox migration of the remaining users.
Plan some Soak time and then retire your old exchange server
Let your new environment soak first before retiring your old exchange server.
VMware has released a white paper detailing how they successfully virtualized their Exchange 2007 environment. Achieving a 4:1 consolidation ratio, the entire virtualized Exchange environment consists of 40 Virtual Machines running on 10 ESX hosts. VMware was successfully able to utilize:
- VMware High Availability (HA)
- VMware Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS)
- VMware vMotion
Special attention was payed to the storage subsystem to balance capacity versus performance.
The physical hardware utilized was the HP c7000 blade servers and EMC CXC3-80 storage.
Daily backups are done using traditional Exchange streaming backups to virtual tape libraries
One feature of their design is the use of two data centers to gain the advantage of physical diversity. The production environment also utilized the new Exchange Server replication technology Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR). The file share witness used by CCR to maintain quorum was housed in a third data center (not shown).
The full white paper can be instantly downloaded here.
VMware also has these outstanding Exchange resources listed here.
Give us a call if we can help you with your Exchange on VMware project.
Don’t forget we offer a Free Data Center Move Guide!
VMware Implementation, VMware Pricing
Small business owners focused on their business do not have the luxury of time and resources to evaluate technology just because they read about it in the trade press or in a blog. Benefits that remain obscure are not going to break through the everyday realities of operating a small business.
VMware is no different. Can it help small business? Certainly. Is it obvious how? That depends on lots of factors, but mostly it is not only not obvious but comes across as complex and more expensive.
Most benefit discussions don’t map well to the Small Business Owner’s perspective. They might conclude that VMware “could” help them, but first they spend some money, change the way they do things, and then see some benefits.
Rejected. Small Business Owners don’t have the time or patience to do the typical VMware “pilot program”. They’re not interested in “first, get a SAN (storage area network)”, or “cuts IT administrative costs”, or “be leaner and agile”, or “reduces power consumption”.
“Start with the Free Stuff”, you say and find what is right for you. Rejected again. Do you honestly believe experimentation is the best use of a Small Business owner’s time?
VMware saves you money. Prove it. Prove that statement for the benefit of a Small Business owner without first requiring them to do all the work.
VMware will save you money.
We can prove it to a Small Business Owner in your language without wasting your time. Send us an e-mail or give us a call.
VMware Implementation, VMware Pricing
Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) can solve many of the challenges of managing physical PC’s including:
- Change control centrally instead of user desk side visits
- Ability to discard a user-contaminated virtual machine in minutes and return the user to productive work
- Fault-tolerant hardware running in the data center
- Backups of all user desktops
However, the best reason to use VDI may well be the impending switch to Vista from XP in the Enterprise. Eventually, Microsoft will force your hand and you’ll end up with the Vista upgrade spiral problem.
What better way to deploy Vista than to have it running on VDI so that your users can still access their XP desktops?
Serious deployments should also investigate the ROI (Return on Investment) for terminal devices (i.e. so called thin client hardware) in conjunction with VDI to avoid the double license “tax” of two operating system licenses per user. Some reported total cost of ownership ROI numbers for 1,000 desktops have been as high as a 200% ROI with a payback period of 5 months.
You can’t ignore the Vista upgrade problem forever. VDI may be just the ticket to avoid a mass user revolt while driving down your operational expenditures (OPEX) and saving substantial capital.
It’s natural to think small when starting out with VMware. Unfortunately, for most businesses this strategy costs you more in both money and resources than a “Start Right” strategy. Thinking small means you will fail to get the full benefits from the virtual infrastructure while investing people resources to build your environment. And while VMware pricing can be confusing and it’s not always obvious what benefits you receive, take the time to learn what kind of investment is right for your business. We can help you with this important process.
This Start Right VMware Reference Architecture gives you the basic framework that allows your virtualization platform to scale without wasted investments in throw-away servers.
- ESX Servers – Quantity Two of the same server type. This allows you to move your virtual machines from one ESX host to the other for a variety of reasons including maintenance and performance.
- Virtual Center – Quantity One. This machine allows you to manage the ESX Servers properly. Small businesses can often run Virtual Center on an existing machine while larger organizations should dedicate a machine for this purpose.
- Optional External Storage – Even if you can not afford this storage initially, you should consider it during the design and budget for it in the next 6-9 months. After you get started with VMware, you’ll want external storage to take full advantage of VMware features.
Review our recommendations for fast tracking your VMware project.
You can also subscribe to our VMware Tips by Email.
VMware Implementation, VMware Pricing
VMware supports a wide variety of hardware platforms where ESX server can be loaded. The compatibility matrix includes servers from these vendors listed alphabetically below. You must verify that the specific model has been tested for compatibility before assuming it will work with ESX server. Download the official VMware ESX Server Specification to do your ESX compatibility check prior to ordering ESX server software.
- Acer Server
- AMAX Information Technologies Server
- Bull Server
- Clearcube Server
- Dell Server
- Digital Henge Server
- Fujitsu Server
- Fujitsu Siemens Server
- HCL Server
- Hewlett Packard Server
- Hitachi Server
- IBM Server
- Intel Server
- Langchao Server
- Lenovo Server
- MAXDATA Server
- Mitsubishi Server
- NEC Server
- Nihom Unisys Ltd. Server
- PowerLeader Server
- Rackable Systems Server
- Rombus International GmbH Server
- Samsung Server
- Stratus Server
- SUN Server
- Supermirco Server
- TAROX Systems & Services GmbH Server
- Teratec Server
- Unisys Server
- Wipro Server
If you don’t find your server in the official guide, contact us to determine if new information exists to verify your server’s compatibility with ESX.
How Quickly Can You Deploy VMware?
Most experts recommend a multi-phase approach for implementing VMware. The problem is that following this approach can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months before any benefits are realized. What if you’re already convinced of the VMware benefits and are looking to accelerate the adoption of VMware for competitive advantage? Here are some steps to help you accelerate a VMware deployment:
Use a Reference Design
There’s no need to engineer a new design for your VMware infrastructure. Most IT (Information Technology) professionals enjoy the engineering step and the result can be an over-complicated hardware layer that actually inhibits a VMware deployment. Use an existing and proven reference design that scales.
Plan For Storage Growth
Because a VMware infrastructure can scale rapidly, you need to plan for storage growth before deployment. If you already have a SAN (Storage Area Network) or a NAS (Network Attached Storage), now is the time to integrate that storage into your VMware infrastructure.
Use Imaging Software
Loading Virtual Machines from scratch is a poor use of your time. Use readily available imaging software as well as the VMware provided tools to quickly build Virtual Machines as well as migrate a host to a virtual machine.
Choose a Partner
Like every other kind of deployment, choosing the right partner makes all the difference. In addition to access to VMware pricing, the right VMware partner can help you avoid costly mistakes. Avoiding distractions and focusing on issues of scale are key to a rapid VMware deployment.