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I'm trying to understand the minimum required number and roles of VM required to host Exchange 2010 on an IaaS cloud platform.

NOTE: I'm talking about number of guests. Not number of physical boxes I'm hosting guests on. This is CLOUD. I want to draw a diagram and label guests and their roles.

What are the minimum roles involved and how can they be consolidated per virtual machine guest? You need a global catalog AD server, client access server, hub transport server, mailbox server, right? I'm not sure what can be combined into a single virtual host.

This isn't a HA scenario, so there's no failover or load balancing. Just the bare minimum to get Exchange serving for one or multiple domains. I can build best practice and HA off this minimal skeleton later.

Bonus round: What about Small Business Server? That combines AD and Exchange in a single box, doesn't it? This might be an alternative answer.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You could install everything on a OS image, including the domain controller (which would, by definition, have to be a global catalog server) role. It wouldn't be a "recommended" configuration per Microsoft, but, as you say, the Windows Small Business Server 2011 product proves that it's possible and will function.

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See NOTE: I added to the question. This isn't involving physical hosts, this is number of guests and their roles. – Aszurom Mar 12 '12 at 17:20
@Aszurom: Yeah-- I got that. My first sentence says "OS image". You could install all of this in a single OS image / virtual machine / guest / etc. You could always use more, too. You asked for the minimum, and the minimum is 1. – Evan Anderson Mar 12 '12 at 17:22
So you can (not should) combine global catalog domain controller, exchange client access, transport, and email database roles all on the same OS instance without SBS? Interesting. – Aszurom Mar 12 '12 at 17:33
@Aszurom: Microsoft doesn't recommend such a configuration but you certainly can. – Evan Anderson Mar 12 '12 at 17:51

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