10 Basics on Lync Server Virtualization

March 2014 Update:  Microsoft has released their new guide: “Planning a Lync Server 2013 Deployment on Virtual Servers” available here http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41936.

This guide: “provides guidance for deploying Lync Server 2013 on virtual servers. It includes recommendations for the configuration of host servers and guest servers, key health indicators to watch during testing and deployment, and observations from Microsoft performance testing of Lync Server 2013 in a virtual environment”.

Note – this blog post has not been updated yet with the recommendations set out in that guide. The original post:

While preparing for a virtualized Lync deployment, I made my way through the Server Virtualization in Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Guide. This is a well written guide that provides detailed information on the VM Host and Guest configurations supported for virtualized Lync server workloads, and sample virtual Lync Topologies.

This post contains important points and tips on running Lync Server in a virtual environment which others might find useful as a quick reference or when getting started.

1] Performance. A virtualized Lync Server role can handle approximately 50% of the load compared to a physical server. This is due to the limitation of Hyper-V supporting a maximum of 4 virtualized CPU cores; the recommended non-virtualized hardware profile for Lync Server is an 8 CPU core. Another 10% virtualization overhead should also be deducted.

2] Workload & Lync Server Role Support.

  • IM, IM Conferencing, Presence, Enterprise Voice, Audio/Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing, Application Sharing, Remote Access (including Federation), and the Response Group workloads are all supported in a virtualized deployment.
  • All Lync server roles except the Survivable Branch Office Appliance can be virtualized. This includes the Group Chat server role as stated in the Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Group Chat Deployment and Migration Guide.

3] Supported Operating Systems.

  • Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V and VMware ESX 4.0 are supported.
  • Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V role is NOT supported. You need the 2008 R2 version of Hyper-V because of fixes related to packet loss.

4] Lync Installation Failure on W2K8 R2 SP1.

If your Lync installation fails on Windows 2008 R2 SP1 due to a prerequisite Windows Media Format Runtime (WMF) installation error, try installing the WMF before starting the Lync installation using the following command:

%systemroot%\system32\dism.exe /online /add-package /packagepath:%windir%\servicing\Packages\Microsoft-Windows-Media-Format-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~6.1.7601.17514.mum /ignorecheck

This is documented in Microsoft KB article 2522454 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2522454).

5] Support for Dynamic Memory.

The Lync Server workloads have not been tested yet with Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V SP1 provides support for Dynamic Memory (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=211071).

6] Mixing Virtual & Physical Lync Servers.

Mixing virtual and physical Lync servers in the same pool is not supported. All Lync server roles in a pool must be deployed either all physical or all virtual, except for the scenario of a virtual Front End Server and a physical SQL Server Back End Server.

7] Support for Virtual Disk Types.

Dynamic disks are not recommended. Fixed and Passthrough disks are recommended.

8] Basic Performance Recommendations

  • For added performance, deploy similar workloads to different VM hosts.
  • It is recommended to install the VM guest O/S on a separate VHD drive from the Lync application.
  • In the case of a Lync Front-End, Director, Edge Server deployed on a single guest VHD, it is recommended that the VHD is placed on a dedicated physical spindle.

While it is supported to virtualize the SQL back-end, the guide Microsoft Lync Server 2010 – Running in a Virtualized Environment points out an important Lync performance requirement:

“Note however that the back-end database has a real-time requirement for presence updates, which is unlike many SQL Server applications. If you run a virtual back-end database you must be aware of performance issues, especially if the host of the virtual back-end database is running other applications.”

9] Sysprep is Not Possible for any Lync Components.

Section 4.3.4 in the Microsoft “Server Virtualization in Microsoft Lync Server 2010″ guide states:

Lync Server 2010 does not support sysprep, which is applicable also to Microsoft® SQL Server 2008 Express, which is installed on each Lync Server role.  This implies that a preconfigured generic Lync Server VM image templates cannot be created. We recommend the use of custom operating system templates with applicable operating system prerequisites installed depending on the targeted workload, for example an operating system template for Front End Servers containing Internet Information Services (IIS),  Windows Media® Format Runtime, Message Queuing (also known as MSMQ). As a separate VM configuration step, Lync Server roles get deployed and activated after the guest operating system is fully configured.

The base O/S can by syspred, but if any other Windows server components is installed, or anything Lync related, it will cause a licensing error.

I take this to mean that base O/S templates the necessary Lync operating system  prerequisites is supported, but templates with any Lync components is not.

10] Sample Reference Topology for ~2,000 Users

1. A virtual Lync Standard Edition Front-End with all the workloads

2. A virtual collocated Lync Monitoring and Archiving server

3. A virtual SQL server for Archiving and Monitoring

4. A virtual Lync Edge Server

I’ll be adding to this list as my experience with Lync virtualization increases. I am interested to hear the experiences others have had in the lab and production with Lync server virtualization.

References

Microsoft Download: Server Virtualization in Microsoft Lync Server 2010

Microsoft TechNet: Running in a Virtualized Environment

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15 comments to 10 Basics on Lync Server Virtualization

  • Ahmer

    Hi Curtis, from the guide link, re “Live Migration of Lync Server workloads have not been validated, and is not supported (Applicable to Hyper-V Live Migration, and VMware Vmotion). Specifically, it has not been validated what the client experience would be if a live migration is performed on a Lync Server workload running an active conference” We are placing following 4 roles on VMs: Archive, Director, Group Chat, Watcher Node. VMotion is enabled but we will not be using VMotion to live migrate these machines. Are we still supported for any Lync issue with VMotion enabled? thanks

  • Richard

    Curtis: Thank you very much!

  • Richard

    Placeholder post to mark I am still interested even though nobody else is :)

  • Richard

    Hi Curtis,

    November 2011 Update: take a look at the Virtualization Guidelines in the “Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Deployment Checklist White Paper”..

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/nexthop/archive/2011/11/03/microsoft-lync-server-2010-deployment-checklist.aspx

    This blog post @NextHop disappered. Either this post and the document has never existed at all or -and I give you credit in this question- we see another victim of MS covering their tracks due to leaked documentation. I am really interested what the hell could have happened again.

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the heads-up – indeed that link is broke and it looks like that checklist white paper is not available. I think it is likely that is was either removed to correct some information or moved to another location. I”ll poke around and see if I can find out what happened to it.

      Curtis

      • Richard

        If you (or any of the readers) can share the original file, I woud greatly appreciate it. Even if it has been pulled back, I think I could benefit from it. I have seen several -otherwise very valuable document- disappearing from the download site, as after it has been published MS decided not to share it with customers any longer. The lesson I have learnt years ago, mirror everything local to your infrastructure, as the original source can go down in any minute.

  • KMV

    Curtis, so if I have two physical front end servers. I can’t make my edge, director and monitoring servers virtual?

    • Hi,

      In this scenario you should be able to make your edge, director, or monitoring server virtual. Did you read something to the contrary?

      Perhaps you mis-interpreted “mixing virtual and physical Lync servers in the same pool is not supported”….remember the Lync definition of a pool is Lync server roles of a similar type. So two Lync Edge servers form an Edge pool, and you could make these virtual. Likewise for the monitoring and direct roles – multiple servers of these types form their own pools and do not reside in the same pool as your front-end servers (this differs from the former definition of a pool in the OCS days).

      Hope that helps,
      Curtis

  • Anonymous

    You said all roles are supported except for SBA. I don’t see Group Chat listed as supported or unsupported. In fact, it’s not listed at all. Do you know if Group Chat Server role is supported?

  • That’s weird, why would they not support sysprep?

    • Zach,

      Re-reading the restriction, I think they meant that no ‘generic Lync Server VM image templates’ can be used (i.e. sys-preped images with Lync components installed on them), but a base sysprep’ed image should be fine. I quote the exact text from the “Server Virtualization in Microsoft Lync Server 2010″ guide.

      4.3.4 Support of VM Image Templates

      Lync Server 2010 does not support sysprep, which is applicable also to Microsoft® SQL Server 2008 Express, which is installed on each Lync Server role. This implies that a preconfigured generic Lync Server VM image templates cannot be created.

      We recommend the use of custom operating system templates with applicable operating system prerequisites installed depending on the targeted workload, for example an operating system template for Front End Servers containing Internet Information Services (IIS), Windows Media® Format Runtime, Message Queuing (also known as MSMQ).

      As a separate VM configuration step, Lync Server roles get deployed and activated after the guest operating system is fully configured.

      Let me know if you experience any issues with basis sysprep’ed images.

  • [...] man nyfiken på Lync 2010 så finns ungefär samma info här:http://blog.insidelync.com/2011/09/10-basics-on-lync-server-virtualization/http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=22746Men seriöst, det [...]

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