Virtualize Domino servers?

We are considering virtualizing some of our Domino clusters. We don’t want to install Domino partition servers on the same box, but we want to virtual some of the clusters so that we have virtual machines on different physical hardware that are virtualized along with other virtual server (maybe non Domino).

We want to use VMWare.

What is the experience with VMWare and running production Domino mail servers? These servers will be connecting to a SAN for disk storage.

We previously had tried to virtual Domino at our host provider Atos Origin, but in the end had problems with it so we went with a white box solution (1 physical server for 1 Domino server). That was over a year ago though, so the problems with doing so may not exist anymore.

Looking forward to your experience and stories regarding the issue.

9 Responses to “Virtualize Domino servers?”

  • Dag Kvello says:

    Hi, I’ve deployed virtualized Domino mailservers/cluster, Quickr and Sametime on VMware ESX/SAN/SAN Storage.

    Any questions You have, just ask.

  • Nelson Morris says:

    Just review very carefully IBM’s VM licensing model.

  • I don’t think we’ve deployed a server *not* on VMWare in the last year, except maybe a Foundations box. It’s been extremely effective.

    It’s very easy to screw up the relationship between your virtual hardware and your real hardware. For instance, standard white box setup might have two or three local platters for OS, transaction logs and system databases, while the SAN might be used for, say, mail databases.

    When you move to a VM environment, if you follow that same pattern in your VHDs, you won’t get the performance & reliability advantages unless you put those VHDs on to similarly architected hardware. Transaction logs require special attention, since they are designed to pre-write blocks to the whole volume allocation and the write only in sequence. Unless you VHD is on dedicated hardware, you’ll probably lose that efficiency.

  • Darren Duke says:

    Pretty much all the new Domino, Sametime and Quickr we have done in the last 24 months is on VMware (a few i and p here and there too).

    Make sure your SAN can handle the traffic (if your doing HA, etc). Keep the TX Logs on a different LUN and even HBA if possible (or even local if you can). 1Gb Fiber probably won’t cut it. Look at 4Gb if you can.

    If you are looking to use local drives then RAID10, RAID10 RAID10. RAID5 kills VM performance. Yes, like religion and antivirius software never publicly disclose any affection for any particular vendor/config/etc, but there you have it. In VM land RAID5 sucks!

    Depending on the number of users (don’t use this as a hard number so test, but a few hundred “could” be OK) then the TX logs “maybe” able to be stored on a separate VHD (same storage as Domino, or somewhere else). Otherwise carve out an actual drive for them. This is not recommended but can be effective in some situation.

    YMMV so test, test, test.

    You may see up to a 20% performance drop moving it to a VM, but in reality this is imperceptible to end users. Team the NICs (at least 2, more like 4 per host AT LEAST) if you are running multiple VMs on the host.

    Clustering is fine too, don’t believe the naysayers. You DO NOT NEED to put clustering on a separate port if your host already has teaming enabled. It just over complicated the whole matter.

    Hope this helps.

  • Darren Duke says:

    Oh, another one, if you do cluster put each cluster member on a different host. Sounds obvious but it is a common performance issue we see.

  • Jim Casale says:

    I agree with Darren when he says YMMV. Also, if your server is already suffering performance problems then don’t even think about VMware – unless you are going to migrate to more virtual servers.

  • Kurt Binnie says:

    I think this is something Lotus and VMWare should address directly together and put out a best practices whitepaper.
    We have asked our VMWare AND Lotus reps if such as thing exists but so far no dice.
    We have virtualized some older app servers with no issues but have so far held off considering running a mail server under VM.
    Thanks for asking the question. The answers so far are helpful…I’m hoping someone has some performance samples they could share for running mail + iNotes in a VM.

  • Kurt Binnie says:

    Thanks Oliver.. hadn’t seen that link

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