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When consolidating servers with virtualization, most companies start with the “low hanging fruit” (the easiest servers) before virtualizing mission-critical, tier 1 servers such as Microsoft Exchange.
Server virtualization offers many benefits for Exchange users, IT staff— Exchange administrators, in particular—and the company as a whole. In general, virtualizing Exchange results in greater uptime, improved flexibility and cost savings. For the Exchange admin, a virtualized Exchange infrastructure facilitates disaster recovery (DR) and high availability (HA), simplifies server swap-outs and eases patch management.
With server virtualization nearing critical mass, many enterprises are asking if it’s time to virtualize those tier 1 servers. What about Exchange Server virtualization? Are the benefits similar to server virtualization?
When is the right time to move to virtualize exchange?
Here are five statements that should be true for all companies thinking about virtualizing Exchange Server.
1. You are going to virtualize Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 and move the server from physical to virtual hardware.
2. You plan to run virtualized Exchange on Windows Server 2008 SP2 or Windows Server 2008 R2.
3. You will virtualize all Exchange server roles, except the unified messaging server role.
4. A dedicated server will run only Exchange Server and support either virtualization on Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vSphere.
5. You have no bias toward either Hyper-V or vSphere. Although this point may not seem that important, every organization has some pre-disposition about Microsoft versus VMware, especially if it already has virtualized applications from one vendor.
For most companies, it makes sense to virtualize exchange on the same virtualization platform as other enterprise servers.
Every company is unique, so you’ll have to do your own comparison. However, companies shouldn’t necessarily choose a virtualization platform based primarily on price. The cost can be spread across VMs, shared storage and whichever virtualization software platform you’ve chosen. You can test all of these virtualization options at no charge, so let your comfort level and experience not just the price tag be the biggest factors in your decision.