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I am new to virtualization, so please excuse my knowledge level on this. I currently run a small Windows network from a Windows 2003 VirtualBox instance. The physical server has 8 CPU cores and 12GB of RAM.

I want to add a second VirtualBox server running Windows 2003 server to test Exchange 2003 (I know it's old, but they have the licenses already).

Is there any gotchas or problems you can see of running 2 VirtualBox servers (both Windows 2003 server) from the same physical server? Should I be looking at better virtualization software, or is VirtualBox good enough for this task?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You really shouldn't use Virtualbox for mission critical virtualization like Exchange. You should probably look into Hyper-V, ESXi, or Xen. Virtualbox is geared much more for home/desktop use and not for server virtualization. In an Exchange environment, you really want all of the performance that you can muster.

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+1, would give this +10 if I could. –  EEAA May 31 '11 at 19:35
    
Thank you I it looks like I will be implementing Hyper-V on the server to run my VM's. I need to convert my virtualbox vm to hyper-v. Any advice on doing this? –  charnley May 31 '11 at 23:01

While Virtualbox isn't really the appropriate tool for the job I can say that there are no issues running multiple virtual machines concurrently. At times I have as many as 5 different VMs running on my PC, which has only 2 cores and 16GB of RAM. One of those VMs is Server 2003 with Exchange 2003, although it's for development and testing, not production, so doesn't get a heavy workout.

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Rebuild the virtual server if you're changing virtualization platforms and have only one or a few servers to migrate. This is the cleanest method for production use windows based servers. Different virtualization platforms can be thought of as different hardware machines. In most cases, an install and migration of data is preferred rather than just moving the hard drive and re-activation, installing new drivers, removing old drivers, removing old apps, installing new apps, etc..

The existing virtual system can easily be moved with no changes to any other box running the same version of Virtualbox. This way the old system can run, albeit slower on an alternate system, until the new system has been fully installed, data migrated and tested. Virtualbox Export/import is the simplest way to transfer to another box.

I'd recommend re-installing the base physical server system in addition to installing the new hypervisor for a production use virtualization server. I don't like having the leftover cruft (drivers, dlls) of removed applications that Windows doesn't doesn't handle well during un-installs.

If you choose to convert the existing virtual you can use vboxmanage included in your existing virtualbox install. Don't forget to un-install the virtualbox additions and set your video to SVGA before you do the conversion.

vboxmanage internalcommands converthd -srcformat VDI -dstformat VHD old-filename.vdi new-filename.vhd
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If you are using a plain windows-server-environment you should consider using hyper-v with w2k8 as server as well.

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Yes I am reading about this now. The OS on the physical server is 2008 x64, so I can use hyper-v on that to run my VM's. That leads me to ask if it is possible to migrate from my virtualbox vm to the hyper-v vm. Some people say it works fine, others say not to do it. Any advice? –  charnley May 31 '11 at 20:37

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