Solar3137
Contributor
Contributor

Virtualizing an Exchange server and a DC

Hi All. I'm running VMware server 2 and I wanted to convert out exchange server 2003 and our DC and put them in a test environment to make sure out exchange backups are working ok. Does the converter work well on servers with those roles? can you do it while they're active? are there any issue I should be aware of? Opinions from anyone who has any experiance with this or any input on vmwareware would be welcome!

Thanks!

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6 Replies
asatoran
Immortal
Immortal

While it is possible to convert with the services running, it is normally recommended to turn off as many services as possible to reduce data corruption and such.

That said I did similar to what you're attempting with my Exchange 2000 server, which is also a DC. (I created a dev network of my servers.) I did the conversion after hours, so no users connected. I was successful with converting with the Exchange services still enabled because there were no users logged on. But I did have to restore Active Directory as I had trouble logging on afterward. So Exchange converted ok, but AD got corrupted. Later conversions work fine for both Exchange and AD sometimes, but not all the time.

MKguy
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

There are plenty of guides for virtualizing Exchange servers on the internet. I, for example, discussed that topic and did convert some Exchange 2003 as described in

http://communities.vmware.com//message/1042012 (conversion for production environment though)

You can use hot cloning for the Exchange server, but should turn off all transaction based services to ensure a consistent state.

For DC's, you must use cold cloning, as described in

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=100699...

But it's generally recommended to install a new DC instead of converting it.

Besides, why don't you use the free ESXi for your test environment instead of vmware server 2.0?

-- http://alpacapowered.wordpress.com
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Solar3137
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks asatoran. It's good to know that it will work most of the time. I will definitely do it after hours with the services stopped.

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Solar3137
Contributor
Contributor

thanks MKguy. I will take a look at both of your links. I've downloaded both VmWare server2 and the ESXi versions. The server2 is the one we currently have running. Besides the stability issue of not having to rely on a host OS, are there other reasons you prefer ESXi over Server2?

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MKguy
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Well, as you already mentioned, the lack of an underlying OS (I suppose Windows in your case?) makes the whole thing significantly more stable and easier to manage and maintain in terms of patching and restarting the OS every month or other standard applications you use on your windows servers.

You just install ESXi, configure some minor settings, start up your VI Client and you are ready to go without having to worry about much other stuff. Just look out for important updates that get released every now and then. ESXi is just the way-more-awesome system and the performance should be significantly better on ESXi.

There is a bunch of other advantages (and also minor disadvantages in certain cases), but I'm too lazy to enumerate them right now.

Here are some comparisons between the products (unfortunately old and mostly server 1.0, but many points should sill apply for 2.0):

http://www.petri.co.il/virtual_vmware_versions_compared.htm

http://vmzare.wordpress.com/2007/04/02/difference-between-vmware-server-esx/

http://www.virtualization.info/2006/12/choosing-between-vmware-server-and-esx.html

-- http://alpacapowered.wordpress.com
Solar3137
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks again MKguy. Yeah, we are running windows. Right now, its just a couple of workstations users are using for specific tasks. No virtualized servers at this point, so I still have the option to reformat and install ESXi. I imagine i'll be able to use the images I created on the existing setup. I'm still going through all the links and researching the information. Lots to look at. Good times.

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