Virtualization has become a mainstream technology, allowing enterprises to consolidate underutilized servers while helping to increase reliability and fault tolerance and simplify load balancing. As organizations embrace
virtualization in the data center, many may consider virtualizing Microsoft Exchange software. This paper suggests how an enterprise-critical messaging application like Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 should be sized and deployed on VMware® ESX Server1 to obtain a satisfactory Quality of Service. Specifically, we examine:

  • The performance implications of running Exchange Server 2003 on a virtual machine versus a physical system.
  • The performance of Exchange Server 2003 in virtual machine configurations when “scaling-up” (adding more processors to a machine) and “scaling-out” (adding more machines).

This paper discusses the performance and scalability of Exchange Server 2003 when it is deployed within virtual machines hosted by VMware ESX Server 3.0.1 on a Dell® PowerEdge® 6850 server with a Dell-EMC CX500 FC SAN. The Heavy user profile from Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2003 Load Simulator benchmarking tool was used to simulate the Exchange workload. Results indicated that a uniprocessor virtual machine can support up to 1,300 Heavy users. Our experiments also show that consolidating multiple instances of these uniprocessor Exchange virtual machines on a PowerEdge 6850 can cumulatively support up to 4,000 Heavy users while still providing acceptable performance and scaling.

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