Most businesses have an infrastructure in place for email hosting solutions such as Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange. However, this infrastructure is often run on hardware that is underutilized with too many boxes and extra CPU and memory. This often leads to waste and can add extra costs to maintenance. One of the ways to reduce the cost of email hosting is to go the route of virtualization.
The reason many companies tend to avoid virtualization is because in the fear that their email hosting through Exchange would be less reliable. And in many companies, if the network stops working that means the business slows down or can even be halted. Yet, this feared crash in reliability is often a myth. With Microsoft Exchange, virtualization costs can be minimized while maintaining performance and reliability. As Exchange MVP Clint Boessen explained in a recent blog post, "Exchange performs best when it can interact with the physical components of a server directly. If you disagree with this statement that's usually a symptom exhibited right after a VMware conference – hopefully it will go away." It is important to note that performance can vary and there is no precise measurement of the effect of virtualization.
When deciding whether or not to virtualize your email hosting platform, there is often a debate between vSphere and Hyper-V. While some have allegiances to their perspective system, the decision is often tied to cost, features, and the availability of third party apps. In addition to those factors, if you go with Hyper-V you also need to decide whether to stick with the more widely deployed Hyper-V version 2 or to go with the newest version Hyper-V version 3, which comes in the new Windows Server 2012.
Moreover, with virtualization the entire mailbox, client access, hub transport, unified messaging and edge transport can all be virtualized, something that Microsoft Exchange did not support in the past. Regardless the decision to go through with the virtualization of a business’s email hosting is in the hands of its IT department and how it views the risks and benefits.
Edited by Jamie Epstein