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Virtualizing SQL Server 2000 and 2005

If you're thinking about virtualizing your SQL 2000 or 2005 servers, take a moment to read this expert response from Anil Desai.

I'm thinking of consolidating several physical machines running SQL Server 2000 and 2005 to virtual machines. I would like to know to what issues I should look out for when migrating physical machines running SQL Server to virtual machines. What migration tools should I use? What are the pros and cons of using Microsoft Virtual Server rather than VMware for this project?

From a technical standpoint, it's certainly possible to run database server products (such as Microsoft SQL Server) within a VM (virtual machine). The first question I would ask, however, is whether you can consolidate your database servers without using virtualization.

Since a single SQL Server installation can support dozens of different databases, it might be more efficient to copy the databases rather than create new VMs. If you have good reasons to create VMs, the primary issues you're likely to run into are related to performance of CPU, memory and disk subsystems. Active database servers tend to tax these resources, and the overhead of virtualization can be noticeable in many cases.

It's a good idea to perform some load testing on those systems before moving forward. There are numerous physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion tools available from Microsoft, VMware, PlateSpin and other vendors.

Regarding the virtualization platform (VMware vs. Microsoft), both should work fine. As it's difficult to recommend a product without complete technical details and testing, I suggest you evaluate your workload and management requirements by running SQL Server in each of them.

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