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Not all organizations are sold on virtualization, especially when it relates to virtualizing a mission-critical, tier 1 application like Exchange Server. Many of their fears and concerns are natural and are based on years of managing physical servers. Moving to a virtual infrastructure often requires administrators to change their mindset about managing an Exchange environment.
Here are some common concerns that IT staff raise as well as challenges administrators face when virtualizing Exchange.
1. “Exchange is too important to virtualize.”
The idea that mission-critical applications are too important to virtualize comes from the early days when there actually was “virtualization overhead,” or performance penalties, tied to server virtualization. Since virtualization has matured, this is no longer true.
Virtualized applications perform just as well, if not better than, physical applications. If performance is lagging after virtualization, then you should analyze resource allocations. There are myriad case studies of successful tier 1 application virtualization, including Exchange Server. Given all the benefits of virtualized Exchange, you should instead say, “Exchange is too important not to virtualize.”
2. “Virtualization will hurt performance.”
If virtualizing Exchange negatively affected performance, then no one would be talking about it. When configured correctly, Exchange performs extremely well when virtualized.
Virtualization will hurt performance is not valid, especially with a mission-critical application like Exchange Server. Virtualizing Exchange Server simplifies DR, improves high availability, produces a higher quality of service and creates hardware independence all of which can improve performance if done properly. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to virtualize only lower-priority servers.
3. “We’re not ready.”
If your company has already virtualized servers in its data center, then consolidating Exchange Servers with virtualization won’t be much different. Most Exchange Server admins cannot even differentiate virtual servers from physical servers. In other words, there isn’t much to “get ready” for, as long as you properly plan your virtualization project and follow best practices.
4. “Virtualized Exchange is not supported.”
Microsoft’s Server Virtualization Validation Program fully supports Exchange Server virtualized on Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vSphere, as long as you stick to published best practices. To learn more about Microsoft support for virtualizing Exchange, visit Microsoft Exchange 2010 on VMware Support and Licensing or Support Polices and Recommendations for Exchange Servers in Hardware Virtualization Environments
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