Microsoft Exchange 2010 is definetly supported on VMware vSphere

I know most of my readers are already aware that Microsoft Exchange & Microsoft SQL have been supported on VMware vSphere for quite long time. In fact, there is so many companies are using it at unbelievably large production scale. Though today while going back from my customer site by train, I was talking to two of their engineers. One of them worked within their Virtual Infrastructure team & the other one within their Microsoft Infrastructure team. What sparked the idea of this post is when the Virtual Infrastructure engineer asked his colleagues what he think of virtualizing their Exchange 2010 setup. The shocking answer was “Our Exchange 2010 environment is too large to be virtualized as we have about 10,000 users. Further, if we virtualize we have have to use Hyper-V to be supported by Microsoft although I know it will run better on VMware vSphere.”

Let me address the status of Microsoft support for running MS Exchange 2010 on VMware vSphere, as it seems there is a lot of misleading believe that Microsoft Exchange 2010 is only supported on Hyper-v. Unfortunately, this seems to be fueled even further by few Microsoft Sales Reps that does not play fair and welling to do anything to win a deal even by misrepresenting facts. They warn customers of not being fully supported when hosting MS Exchange 2010 on VMware vSphere. This is so untrue. Actually if you read Microsoft support statement for their software supported on Hardware Virtualization Platform, you will notice that they combine Hyper-V and any hypervisor supported on the SVVP program in the same support statement. To be exact below is how Microsoft Support Statement for Hardware Virtualization of their supported products look like: “All the below listed Microsoft Server-focused application versions, as well as all later versions of those applications, are supported on Hyper-V and Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) validated products, so long as the virtualization product supports the correct operating system version and platform architecture(s) required by a specific application.”. The source of this statement can be found at Microsoft site at: http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/svvp.aspx?svvppage=svvpwizard.htm . Microsoft Exchange 2010 is one of the products supported by that support statement as you will see on the bottom of that page. Further, VMware was the first vendor to be included in the SVVP program and to give you the evidence of VMware being on that list, you can find the list of Virtualization Vendors supported by the SVVP program posted at: http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/results.aspx?&chtext=&cstext=&csttext=&chbtext=&bCatID=1521&cpID=2274&avc=0&ava=0&avq=0&OR=1&PGS=25&ready=0

Being included in the generic statements is not the only place that prove such support, but Microsoft has included the SVVP program members in their products support statements updates. A good example to that when Microsoft has decided to support UM in a virtualized environment & combining Hypervisor availability for features such VMware HA with VMware DAGs. The following statement demonstrate  just that: http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2011/05/16/announcing-enhanced-hardware-virtualization-support-for-exchange-2010.aspx . When running MS Exchange 2010 on VMware vSphere, you don’t only have Microsoft support but VMware will back you up when running Exchange 2010 on VMware. Below is the VMware statement:

“Any VMware support customer is covered by the VMware Safety Net for Microsoft products. Through VMware’s Premier Agreement with Microsoft, customer issues can be escalated to Microsoft engineering and pursued jointly. VMware will determine when this approach is appropriate, but has found that it can produce excellent results in particularly challenging situations.” This statement which include excellent information on Exchange 2010 support on VMware can be found at: http://www.vmware.com/support/policies/ms_support_statement.html

Alright so now we have covered the support part, let’s look at the part of my environment is too big for being virtualized. I have worked with customers in different sectors that have over 20K, 30K, & even 40K  Microsoft Exchange mailboxes being virtualized on VMware. As unfortunately, I can not share those customers names on my blog for confidentiality reasons I am going to share with you few of the customers who allowed VMware to publish their success stories:

Alright I believe those examples of such large Exchange deployment on VMware send the message loud and clear on how large of an Exchange environment VMware vSphere could support. At last, I know each company will decide on the hypervisor to use based on their business needs, I just wanted to help customers avoid taking the decision based on misleading information/input. I hope some of you out there find this post useful, & avoid choosing the wrong solution for the wrong cause. Please leave your comments/opinions in the comments area below.

Comments

  1. Nice article Eiad,
    but what happened between MS and Vmware is the coming world war III, and it’s going to be more worst.
    VMware has to prepare a professional talents guys like you.

    Thanks

  2. Hi Ibrahim,

    Thanks for your flattering comment. We are lucky here at VMware to have some of the most talented people in the industry & I really enjoy working among such a team.

    Thanks again,
    Eiad

  3. Mack McMillan says:

    I have worked with several large virtualized Exchange deployments. In each we had a lot of issues that we never encountered in a physical deployment. I don’t care if you use VMWARE or HYPER-V, virtualization adds complexity to deployment and I do not see a lot of value in it. Any cost savings that are calculated for less rack space, less AC, less power are far exceeded by the many, many man hours spent troubleshooting Network and Disk issues introduced by the virtual switches and SANs.
    In honesty I can say that my current project, VMWARE and Exchange 2010 is hampered by a team that does not understand VMWARE or SAN. Perhaps if they had a senior VMWARE, SAN consultants on staff, and if they actually listened to them, not going to happen, it might be different.
    I recommend staying physical, save the virtual environments for labs.

    At my current customer we have two forests, one physical and one on VMWARE. The physical forest with Exchange is running like a charm with no issues. The virtualized forest with Exchange has racked up so many man hours of troubleshooting issues that we are considering making it physical. Same versions of windows and exchange in both and the same Microsoft team deployed Exchange/AD on both.

    If I have my druthers I will use HyperV to virtualize Microsoft applications. It makes the support posture much easier. One Vendor so there can be no fingerpointing. Plus the licensing saves a ton of money for the customer.

    I have friends that work at both VMWARE and Microsoft and I tell them the same thing.

  4. Hi Mack,

    Thanks for your feedback and sharing your experience. Just like everything else in IT, if you don’t configure your virtual environment according to best practice you will be asking for trouble. Having a skilled virtualization admin between your staff is priceless when deploying business critical application in a virtualized environment. It is worth mentioning, that I know few of the largest firms around with huge mailbox count running Exchange/AD in a virtual environment without any complains. The big difference between them and what you are doing, that they have a skilled virtualization team.

    By the way, VMware support team is well versed with many of the business critical applications like Exchange & Oracle and they can help you with your problem if you have a ticket as well open a ticket back to back support with the application vendor to make sure things are right for you. If you have a valid VMware license I would suggest you get in touch with GSS or your SE.

    Thanks,
    Eiad

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