Exchange. SharePoint. SQL. Virtual. NetApp.

I’ve just finished reading the newly published update to TR-3785.  This was an extensive (…extensive!) effort, tri-branded, from NetApp, Cisco, and VMware, to give you a real-life example scenario of how to deploy Microsoft’s “Big 3” in a robust, efficient, and flexible architecture.

If you’re considering virtualizing your tier-1, mission critical apps, this is a great reference and real-life guide scenario, covering all protocols and scenarios and gotchas, that you could use to design and architect your own.  As always, every environment is different, and mileage may vary, but if you’re at the point in your path where you’re virtualizing these bad boys, you’re already well on your way in your journey to the cloud.

I’d like to include the INTRODUCTION to the TR here, so that you can give it a quick once-over before diving head-first into the doc, and see if it’s a good fit for you.

As customers move toward their goal of 100% virtualized data centers, they increasingly look for ways to bring the benefits of VMware virtualization to their mission-critical Microsoft applications. Customers planning a new deployment, performing an upgrade, or planning to 100% virtualize their data centers have an ideal opportunity to transition to a VMware vSphere virtual infrastructure built on NetApp unified storage.

This document provides guidance on how to design and architect a scalable Microsoft applications mixed workload solution using highly available VMware vSphere 4 virtual infrastructure and NetApp unified storage. It highlights the flexibility of leveraging either a Fibre Channel (FC) protocol-based storage solution or IP-based solution (that is, iSCSI and Network File System [NFS]) for hosting virtual machines. It also describes the NetApp backup and recovery solution for the Microsoft applications. All the FC, iSCSI, and NFS-based solutions are applicable for all enterprise types (large, midsize, and SMB) and can be scaled up or down based on business requirements. Some key benefits of the overall solution are: 

Reduced costs with VMware virtualization. For many organizations, upgrading to newer Microsoft server applications without virtualization can result in investing more server hardware in an application that has already become excessively costly to run. VMware virtualization can unlock the full power of the hardware by running multiple workloads on each system. This can provide a costeffective solution and potentially higher ROI when compared to deployments without virtualization.

Advanced NetApp unified and efficient storage solutions. Customers can deploy Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint on storage solutions that leverage existing networking infrastructure such as FC, iSCSI, and NFS, which can offer a very cost-effective approach. NetApp FAS and V-Series storage arrays have been fully tested and certified for use in FC and IP-based VMware environments. Also, by leveraging NetApp storage efficiency and intelligent caching capabilities across all the protocols, customers can save significantly on their storage investment without tradeoffs.

High availability. A platform enabled by VMware can provide high availability (HA) for Microsoft server applications without the need for clustering at the virtual machine (VM) level. Virtual machines are no longer tied to the underlying server hardware and can be moved across servers at any time with VMware VMotion®. VMware HA provides server hardware fault tolerance for every VM and offers greater levels of availability over solutions designed to protect just the server.

Advanced backup and recovery solutions. The NetApp backup and recovery solution is built using integrated VMware, Microsoft, and NetApp technologies for advanced, application-aware data protection. Deduplication-aware remote replication for disaster recovery with NetApp SnapMirror®provides an end-to-end data protection solution.

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