Exchange And Hyper-V Replica Support


After seeing several posts and some folks discussing whether or not Exchange supports the Hyper-V Replica feature I thought it would be prudent to address the following:

  • Does Exchange Support Hyper-V Replica?
  • Does Hyper-V Support Exchange?
  • How Do I use Exchange and Hyper-V Replica?

 

What Is Hyper-V Replica

For some background reading on Hyper-V and the Replica feature; the component poster and downloadable documents can be found in this post.  In short the Hyper-V Replica feature tracks changes to the specified VHDs, then ships these changes to keep a copy of the virtual machine synchronised on a second host.  Windows Server 2012 R2  will enhance this further.  The diagram below from the replica whitepaper shows a 20,000 foot view. 

    Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Replica High Level View

     

    Does Exchange Support Hyper-V Replica

    In short, Exchange does not support the Hyper-V Replica feature.  Exchange has a long history of supporting virtualisation from Exchange 2003 onwards.  It is fully supported to install Exchange 2007, 2010 or 2013 as a virtual machine on Hyper-V, but using the Hyper-V replica feature is not supported.

    The Exchange 2010 virtualization support requirements and Exchange 2013 virtualization requirements pages are rather detailed in what must and must not be done on an Exchange virtual machine or hypervisor.  If what you want to do is not listed, then that should set an alarm bell off….

    The Exchange virtualization support statement has never listed Hyper-V replica, though some of the Hyper-V content has alluded to running Exchange as a replicated VM.  Some workloads have  announced support for Hyper-V replica, which includes:

     

    Additional Reading

    Jeff Mealiffe delivered a great session on Exchange & Virtualization at TechEd.  You can find this session here, and a list of all of the other Exchange sessions here

    In his session Jeff highlighted what was supported and what was not supported.  Here is his slide for Hyper-V replica:

    Hyper-V Replica Not Supported For Exchange

    Exchange has specific supportability requirements, and additional virtualization specific stipulations.  Please see the system requirements page for the appropriate version.  You can find them at the bottom of this post.  The Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) should also be consulted to ensure that the hypervisor is supported under SVVP. 

     

    Exchange Support For Azure Site Recovery

    Update 8-9-2015:  At Ignite 2015 a related announcement was made with regards to replicas of Exchange Hyper-V VMs.  This is covered in BRK 3462 Azure Site Recovery: Microsoft Azure As a Destination for Disaster Recovery.  If you view the section starting from 07:15 it discusses workload guidance and Exchange support for ASR (Azure Site Recovery).  Please note this specifically discusses support for Azure Site Recovery and not on-premises Hyper-V Replica.  Exchange has the Database Availability group (DAG) feature which has proven itself to be reliable and efficient, and as such is the recommended solution to provided high availability for Exchange mailbox databases. 

    The below is a screenshot of the referenced presentation showing Exchange.   Click to enlarge.

    Currently Available Azure Site Recovery Manager (SRM)  Aware Solutions From Ignite 2015

     

    Until the Exchange Product Group folks have signed off and stated that Hyper-V Replica is supported, please do not leverage it for Exchange VMs. 

     

    Cheers,

    Rhoderick

    Comments (12)

    1. anonymouscommenter says:

      Hopefully that day will come soon. The Exchange team seem to be amongst the slowest to adapt anything.

    2. Charles Derber says:

      Thats right its not supported but again few org. with only one server(multirole) deployed may want to achieve HA on Primary/DR site might think of enabling Hyper V replica.

      As mentioned stil the supportibilty becomes a challenge & switch over data will not be upto date.

    3. That's correct as what would happen with potential data loss scenarios…

      The other thing to consider is what it means to "support" a scenario.  That means the product group will test out the scenario, provide support to customers to resolve issues and ultimately they will stand behind the feature.  In order for that to happen it does take time.

      Cheers,

      Rhoderick

    4. anonymouscommenter says:

      When the exchange group supports Hyper-V replica, would they port the support back to Exchange 2010?

    5. anonymouscommenter says:

      Has there been any movement on official “support” for Hyper-V replica for single server implementations?

    6. Nothing has moved on this recently Dan. When I get news that can be shared, I’ll certainly update this post.

      Cheers,
      Rhoderick

    7. anonymouscommenter says:

      Why do I have to leverage a different and more complex system for DR of Exchange when I already have a simple easy to use method for my virtualization workloads? Now I have to buy more licensing, learn and manage another solution just to have disaster recovery. In a small business with a single server Exchange deployment, this makes no sense. For 150 mailboxes it’s just not realistic to do this. Think I’ll just stick with DPM. DAG, no thanks…

    8. anonymouscommenter says:

      I am with Scott. This sucks!

    9. anonymouscommenter says:

      So…if I try to failover my replica exchange server what would happen?!?

    10. sepiroth81 says:

      So…if I try to failover my replica exchange server what would happen?!?

    11. anonymouscommenter says:

      So nobody will answer that last question? Am i to inderstand that aside from the TechEd slide we are supposed to know that it is not supported since no one ever said it was?

    12. I could come up with multiple scenarios in the above replica failover that would cause issues with Exchange 2007 and 2010.

      Aufinger – The support requirements for Exchange are listed on TechNet. When we virtualize Exchange then we need to ensure that the additional virtualization requirements are also met. There is no mention of replica support on this page:

      https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj619301(v=exchg.150).aspx

      If what you are doing is not specifically listed/documented then please contact Microsoft to review the support position.

      Cheers,
      Rhoderick