Exchange 2003 Corrupt Mailstore in Virtualised Environment

5 pts.
Tags:
Corrupted email
Exchange 2003
Exchange Virtualization
Mailstore
Microsoft Exchange
Virtual Machines
VMware
VRanger
VReplicator
Four weeks ago we experienced a corrupt mailstore on a Windows 2000, Exchange 2003 environment. The server had been snapshotted and was virtualused within VM3.0. It had ran clean for approx 1 year but serious errors commenced just prior to the mailstore failing to remount after a routine reboot. To correct the issue we rebuilt a clean virtual Windows 2003 server, loaded Exchange 2003 and migrated only mailboxes across - no errors were experienced during this transition and we believed the corrupt mailstore was likely due to the old server and an unstable build. That was until last night. Once again we picked up a 1018 error and when looking into the problem could see that Exchange was not writing any data to the transaction logs. The Virtual environment has VRanger and VReplicator running to also snapshot servers nightly to a DR facility. Following Microsoft best practice we opted to restore the mail database from the last good clean backup. On trying to do this we experienced one of the major problems with VM - te VReplicator snapshot for the mailserver continued to grow and in the space of approx 30 mins had taken a full 50GB of the remaining space on the SAN that the virtual servers are sat on. At this point the mail server tilted and we were unable to reboot it until the snapshot issue was resolved. On finally getting the server back in a fit state the mailstore would not mount. We have had to clear out all transaction logs and re-run the restore- losing email data in the process. My question is - has anyone else experienced this type of issue in a Virtual environment. I am concerned that it may be the actual snapshotting and/or virtual environment itself that is causing our mailstore corruptions. Current idea is to remove Exchange from the virtual environment. Anyone have any better suggestions?
ASKED: March 24, 2009  8:58 AM
UPDATED: March 25, 2009  9:27 PM

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What type of SAN are you using? Do you have the partitions that the database and logs are residing are on the VM’s vmdk files or exposed directly to the SAN? I normally recommend having the base OS associated with the VM’s vmdk files and then expose the VM’s directly to the SAN either via iSCSI or dedicated fibre or RDM.#

I agree with the above statement
i wouldnt run your exchange data stores or logs within a vmdk
create a couple of RDM’s and use those
then maybe just snapshot the vmdk (I cant remember whether vizioncore quiesces the vmdk (VSS) i think it does, but wont backup the RDM’s) you really need an application aware snapshot utility, i.e. snapmanager for Exchnage – i have tested exchange with simple non application aware snapshots and was able to recover and mirror what should have been a crash consistent database without any issues.

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  • Technochic
    I don't have any better suggestion for you other than the move to hardware. Sounds like you are right in that the virtual environment isn't working real well for your exchange server.
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