none
Exchange 2010/SharePoint 2010: Advice on disk storage and Vritualization RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    I will be installing a new server with Server 2008 R2 Enterprise and this will be the only server running for this company.  On the base OS is going to be DHCP, DNS, AD DS, and probably WSUS only.  I will want to put file and printer services in as well, but not sure yet which volume.  Then I will user Hyper-V to create two VM's, one for Exchange 2010 Standard and one for Sharepoint 2010 (Standard I think).  Since there will only be one physical server, all roles for Exchange and what not will be on this one box. 

    What I'm looking into is how to best set up disk storage.  There will not be any external storage, all internal.  This server will have 2 x 300GB SAS 15K drives, and 6 x 600GB of the same. 

    There are about 40 workstations in the building and roughly 60 mobile workers that at some future date may be set to have OWA and such - though initially this isn't planned.  I'm just mentioning this so you know the rough concurrent user count. 

    I had thought I would have RAID 1 for the 2 x 300GB drives for the Host OS with AD Ds, DNS, DHCP, and WSUS but what to do with the remaining 6 x 600GB drives is where I'm still debating.  And also where to host the files in the File Server role is also up in the air.  Options considered are:

    Either:  One array (RAID 5) for VM #1, another array (RAID 5) for VM #2, and throw the file server on whichever array has the most space free

    Or:  One array of 2 drives (RAID 1) for VM #1 which would have Exchange, and the other array using 4 drives in RAID 10 for VM #2 (SharePoint), with the file server also going on VM #2.  The logic being that email doesn't require rapid speed the same as a document server might.  But then I'd need to make sure Exchange never gets bigger than say, 500GB or so. 

    Or:  All 6 drives in one array.  Probably RAID 5, then use OS disk partitioning, probably just two partitions of equal size. 

    I know however that with VM's it's advisable to try to have as many disk spindles as possible, so in that case it could be argued that I'd get the most storage I/O utilization from a single array, plus I'd have the speed of 5 drives (if using RAID 5) rather than the speed of only 2 drives if the VMs are split over two 3-disk raid5 sets, provided that both VMs aren't maxing out the array controller as it is. 

    FYI, the server will have about 48-64GB of memory.  So fro what I understand, it is possible to tune Exchange settings to have it use more memory and thus less disk i/O, so I could in theory put 16-24GB just for the Exchange VM and maybe not get much disk I/O at all? 

    Any thoughts are much welecomed.  Thank you. 

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:12 PM

Answers

  • I never had any issues running exchange in that way. There initially were a mismatch between exchange and Hyper-V. It seems that the Exchange team developed DAG for high availability, while the rest of Microsoft were working with Hyper-V clusters.

    It shouldn't bother you besides, managing a single volume will help you when your VHD files eventually grow (and believe me, they will), rather than allocating disk space between raid sets.

    The hyper-V role should not have any impact on you being allowed to run 4 VM.

    Your exchange setup seems ok, it's going to require all the necessary roles, since it will be the only exchange server in your domain. If you have a lot of mailboxes (100+)  I advice you to spread mailboxes on multiple mailbox database stores. It does not improve exchange performance, but merely for future purpose when you wan't to back it up smoothly.

    For testing, I use whatever Hyper-V capable workstation I can find, install the free Hyper-V server 2008 R2 and install my test VM's there. If the VM is a keeper, then i simply import it into my production Hyper-V environment.

    I read your posts, but let me know in case I missed any of your questions. 

    • Marked as answer by viProCon Wednesday, January 19, 2011 6:33 PM
    Sunday, January 16, 2011 8:28 AM

All replies

  • Hi!

    This is my recommended configuration to you:

    - Enable only Hyper-V role on physical machine

    - 1 VM to be Domain controller, dhcp, dns, or better yet: Another physical machine as Domain controller, dhcp, dns

    - 1 VM File server and WSUS

    - 1 VM Sharepoint 2010

    - 1 VM Exchange 2010

    - 1 Raid 5 Disk configuration for VM store. This will give you the benefit of higher performance of a larger stripeset and the ability to expand VHD's without having to shrink/extend partitions.

    Exchange 2010 is very demanding when it comes to RAM. It will consume as much RAM as it can, I recommend a minimum of 16 GB for Exchange 2010.

    You can read more about Exchange 2010 configuration and calculation here:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996719.aspx

    Thats all I can think of right now. Let me know if I can assist you further.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 8:13 PM
  • Hey Mike thanks for the reply. 

    First off, only one physical box to work wit unfortuantely :)   So just to confirm, you're saying have a single RAID 5 for the VMs.  So basically the RAID 1 which is 2 x 300GB will just have an OS and Hyper-V role, and the RAID 5 (6 x 600GB or 3TB usable) will house everything else. 

    The reason I'm unsure about that setup is beacuse I was hoping to leave the door open for future VM usage.  2008 R2 Enterprise licensing says that I can either have 4 VM's but zero roles/features in the host, or put what I want in the host OS but then can only us 3 or less VM's. 

    My original plan was do what you have suggestioned with the 4 VM's, but then I thought that perhaps I should be able to have a VM for testing purposes  There simply won't be a 2nd server in this environment so I have no other testing options if I ever want to try something on the production network. 

    So with that in mind, the thought was to have 2 VM's as mentioned, but reserve a 3rd VM for testing purposes, and never use a 4th VM because of the Enterprise edition license limitation.  Also I should mention that there will be a few basic 3rd party apps running too, like a malware protection client managemnt server product, and some very low-usage sql express stuff.  These I was planning on sticking on the host OS too but if I went with the 4 VM model then I'd keep it in the File Server/WSUS VM probably. 

    Well, I'd like to give your idea more thought and discussion.  Do you think having 4 active VM's would be a performance killer compared to having just 2 active VM's with the remaining roles/features/3rd party stuff on the host OS?  I don't really have the option of teseting these configurations - once I've decided on a plan I have to stick with it as far as the VM setup goes. 

    Thanks again! 

     

    Saturday, January 15, 2011 10:11 PM
  • Also I just wanted to add that I just read through that link you provided and some of the links it led to.  Looks like runing Exchange in a VM isn't as pain-free config-wise as I thought, but still doable.  For reasons unexplained, it does say that your root OS shoulnd't be running any roles or functions, just the hypervisor, if you have Exchange in a VM.  Kind of annoying since it forces my hand, but I suppose I should trust in Technet. 

     

    What really loses me is all the talk about "role ratio's and the CPU core assignemtn stuff.  I'll need to read more on that later, all I need for now is to know that I'm going to put an Exchange multi-role install into a VM, and give it 16+GB of memory and a bunch of disk space.

    There was one mention in that link you provided that it should be that you use dedicated spindles for the Exchange data (can't rmemeber if it was the CAS or MBX stuff), independant of what you use for the VHD that's housing the Exchange VM's OS.  It seems odd because if you do that you'd usually lose the benefit of stripped data sets, since with 8 drives in this system already it's kind of dumb to put 3+ disks just for some of Exchange's data storage, unless they assume everybody has 10 or 15 disks in a server. 

    Not sure how much of an sisue that'll turn out to be, but I still feel your suggestion of a single RAID 5 is a better deal than splitting the 6 drives into 2 seperate raid5 sets. 

    Sunday, January 16, 2011 1:03 AM
  • I never had any issues running exchange in that way. There initially were a mismatch between exchange and Hyper-V. It seems that the Exchange team developed DAG for high availability, while the rest of Microsoft were working with Hyper-V clusters.

    It shouldn't bother you besides, managing a single volume will help you when your VHD files eventually grow (and believe me, they will), rather than allocating disk space between raid sets.

    The hyper-V role should not have any impact on you being allowed to run 4 VM.

    Your exchange setup seems ok, it's going to require all the necessary roles, since it will be the only exchange server in your domain. If you have a lot of mailboxes (100+)  I advice you to spread mailboxes on multiple mailbox database stores. It does not improve exchange performance, but merely for future purpose when you wan't to back it up smoothly.

    For testing, I use whatever Hyper-V capable workstation I can find, install the free Hyper-V server 2008 R2 and install my test VM's there. If the VM is a keeper, then i simply import it into my production Hyper-V environment.

    I read your posts, but let me know in case I missed any of your questions. 

    • Marked as answer by viProCon Wednesday, January 19, 2011 6:33 PM
    Sunday, January 16, 2011 8:28 AM
  • Hi Mike, thanks again for the info.  Your answrs will do it for me so I'm good to go and thanks for the heads up on the  multi-mailbox database thing too.  

    I've got one other question, not Exchange related though.  If i plan to put AD DS on a VM guess OS, how will I set up my host OS?  Would I just make it a standalone server, create my VM and install the guest OS, making that VM the DC (the first and only) and thus creating my forest, and then join the host OS machien as a member server?  Does this work well or is there anything that makes this more difficult than if these were just two physical servers? 

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 3:12 PM
  • Yes, this is doable and no, it will not be more difficult.

    It is however always a recommendation to have a physical DC at any point, but if your Hyper-V environment will be installed and continued at this scale, then this will work out fine.

    (It is again related to future purpose. If you at some point install a second Hyper-V host and want to create a failover cluster, then you would find it better to have a physical DC or tie the DC VM locally to one host at all times, and thus not making the DC highly available. But none of this is a concern at this point.)

     

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 5:13 PM
  • Alright sounds good.  Yeah I had looked into putting in two physical servers for this location but the economics didn't support it.  On a fixed budget too much would have been spent on just the basics of a physical machine (chassis, PCB's and such) and not enough towards the CPU, memory aned storage performance split over two boxes.

    Anyway, yeah I will definitely look into that failover stuff at some point, perhaps use it to make a good business case for why a $1000 PC with 2008 R2 could be a basic backup DC or something, but for now at least it's just one real server. 

    Thanks again Mike.  I can't think of anything else as of today to ask but surely more questions will come once I start the actual testing and deployment.  Perhaps we'll cross paths again. 

     

     

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 6:32 PM
  • Lets hope that we do.

    Good luck and welcome to the Hyper-V community.

    / Mike

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 6:43 PM
  • Hi Mike.  I've got a follow-up post basically continuing this discussion (regarding VHD recommendations) but I'll create a new thread so proper credit is given for a new Solution.  I just wanted to draw your attention to it though in case you get time to have a look.

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/virtualserver/thread/ae2ac6cc-373a-40f7-9f6b-6915ccffeb4e

    If MS blocks the URL for any reason, search in the Virtual Server forum for "greater than 2TB" and that'll probably find you my post. 

    Thursday, March 31, 2011 12:31 PM