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are there any plans (by MS) for hosting exchange server 2003 on hyper-v?

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Maybe you should clarify a bit more: what do you mean by "hosting"? Do you want to know if MS itself runs exchange 2003 on Hyper-V and is selling this to customers (hosting), or do you yourself want to run exchange 2003 on Hyper-V? – Sam Jul 9 '09 at 7:51
up vote 3 down vote accepted

We moved our Exchange 2003 to a Hyper-V VM, and the speed increased dramatically. Of course the old hardware was a Poweredge 2650 with a 5 disk RAID5 and the new server is a Poweredge 2950 with a six disk RAID5, so the speed increase is down to the far better disk subsystem on the new server. Nevertheless, it is a lot faster!

Our main reason for using a VM is that we mirror the VM files (using a shadow copy) every night so if we lost the server for any reason it would take five minutes to boot the mirrored copy.


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Microsoft's recommendations re: running Exchange 2003 in a virtualized environment are here:

Microsoft does not indicate that that "support" Exchange 2003 running on Hyper-V. (Indeed, they only "support" running Exchange 2003 under Virtual Server 2005 R2 or later.)

Given that Exchange 2003 is a major version behind the current release of Exchange (soon to be two versions behind when Exchange 2010 goes RTM), I think it's unlikely that a lot more will be done by Microsoft to extend "support" for Exchange 2003 into other virtualized environments. I can't speak for Microsoft, of course, but I think it's a fair guess.

I haven't tried to run it under Hyper-V, but I suspect it will run fine. You'll suffer loss of IO performance as any application would in a virtualized environment. With Exchange 2003, which is especially IO hungry (moreso than Exchange 2007), this is a distinct disadvantage over running it on the "bare metal", so you need a good reason to be running it in virtualized environment.

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I've run Exchange 2007 in a Hyper-V guest ever since the release of Hyper-V - and have not run into a single problem with it. My server was fairly small though, so I didn't have to worry about the IO when I made the decision to virtualize it. If you're planning on running a bigger implementation, I'd make sure that you put some thought into how you are going to manage the disks for your VM - since that's where your biggest bottleneck will likely be.

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Im just in the process of going from VS2005 to Hyper-V R2 tonight. So we'll see how it goes. In regards to taking a VSS copy of the server we are looking at using SCVMM R2 to do things like that. Would that be what your using John?

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Migration was a success and the VM is flying now. We had the Exchange box under high load 80% - 90% CPU utilisation all day every day due to an email archiving product. Not only did this drop to 50% CPU utilisation but it was moved from a RAID 10 array to a RAID 5 array. So overall a great success. – pigeon Jan 24 '10 at 5:08

I echo Evan here. It can run in a virtualized environment just fine, but you have to want to do that for a reason. We have an entire Exchange 2007 environment running on a VMWare ESX cluster, and it works for us. But the cluster nodes also host a bunch of other services as well. It can be done.

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John, Can you tell us how your VSS backup for Exchange 2003 is setup? What backup process/program are you using? I work for a non-profit and we're in the process of testing Exchange 2003 on Hyper-V R2 running on a Dell R610 connected to a Datacore SanMelody server (hardware is PowerEdge T710 running Windows 2008 x64). thanks, Carlton.

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