I have an SBS 2003 box that is being "refreshed" (replaced). I need to replicate core functionality without the SBS package (due to MS dropping it). Key functionality is:

  • Proxied Remote Desktop
  • AD
  • File/Print
  • Exchange

I have little HyperV experience, more so with VMWare. From an architecture standpoint, do I go with two VMWare VM's on a single server, one dedicated to Exchange and all remaining services on the other?

Or, is it better to do Hyper V for virtualization? Exchange system requirements says that the host OS should be clean of all network services. That means I do WIndows OS, with two VM's, one for Exchange and the other for all remaining services.

Seems like a big overhead hit going the Windows route.

I'm not looking at System Center (maybe I should be?) or VMWare Essentials (would probably try to run free version).

My budget only allows for one physical server. CALs are not a huge concern as they are non-profit so licensing is cheap.

Big picture architecture suggestions? Right now I'm at a fork and need to know which road to take. I know SBS had it's problems but I've run it tons of places and was very happy with it, now I"m having to make some big adjustments. This is my first refresh post SBS!


  • This will probably be closed as not constructive, but I can tell you this: Windows Server 2012 is very slim and not resource-hungry at all (atleast not until you add roles/features). It should work just fine as a Hyper-V host.
    – pauska
    Apr 3, 2013 at 17:05
  • Perhaps you are looking for Server 2012 Essentials? Apr 3, 2013 at 22:58
  • @MichaelHampton - thought about it, but I don't think the feature-set is robust enough for what I need. With Server 2012, I get two VM instances, which meets my needs quite well.
    – KTech
    Apr 4, 2013 at 1:40

1 Answer 1


The hypervisor to use is largely a matter of personal preference. It may be in your interests to go for a Hyper-V host using Windows Server 2012 Standard - the virtualisation rights now included for a particular number of VMs (and unlimited in the Datacentre edition, I do believe) can now make this pretty cost effective.

At a high level, you are looking at a single Hyper-V host and two VMs. How you configure that from an architecture standpoint is largely down to personal taste. On a single box, I would configure one VM's primary role to be the Domain Controller, and another to act as the Exchange Server. Where you place auxiliary roles is, again, personal preference. You have been using all roles on a single box, so this setup is already splitting things up a little.

I would avoid using the host machine for anything but Hyper-V. Your VMs are then very portable and not tied to a specific host - a huge additional benefit to using a virtualisation platform.

  • File/print - this could sit on either VM. For file serving, you're going to need to reserve disk space (either on a dedicated array which you pass through to a VM) or in a virtual hard disk file for the file shares. Given the choice, I would site these roles on the DC rather than the Exchange box; keep Exchange for the heavy mailbox activity and the DC for the more mundane file sharing.

  • AD & Exchange - it goes without saying that a sensible design seems to be one VM as a DC and one VM as an Exchange Server, so this is settled.

  • Proxied remote desktop - you will need to use Remote Desktop Gateway for this. With only the two VMs, I would consider running this on the Exchange box. You could then double-up any certificates you purchase for use with Exchange to also secure the proxied RDP traffic.

You will lose the Remote Web Workplace and the benefits it offers. That is unfortunately SBS-only, with no useful alternative in the "vanilla" versions. Users will need to configure their remote access to desktop machines manually.

Consider the versions of the Windows Server OS you will run in each VM and the support for Exchange 2010 and/or 2013. You will also want to consider whether you stick with a solid Exchange 2010 environment, or go with the newer 2013. You could quite easily purchase Exchange 2013 licenses but install 2010 through downgrade rights, and the use of virtualisation would allow you to build another VM and upgrade to 2013 at a later date if you so wished.

  • Much appreciated. Exactly the input I was looking for. I think once I settle into this it will be easier to admin than an SBS box!
    – KTech
    Apr 3, 2013 at 18:21

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