VMware: Virtualizing SharePoint & Support

Microsoft describes the support policy for their products on virtual machines in KB Article 897615. This is relevant to VMware customers as follows:

Premier Support Customers

"For Microsoft customers with Premier-level support running non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software ... Microsoft will investigate potential issues with Microsoft software running together with non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software."

Microsoft’s Premier Support customers can request support for any Microsoft product running on VMware. Issues are typically resolved quickly and efficiently. Microsoft can request assistance from VMware if this is required to resolve the issue.

While Microsoft reserves the right to request that issues be replicated either on physical hardware or on Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V, this is apparently an extremely infrequent scenario.

Other Microsoft Customers

Customers who don’t have Premier Support from Microsoft are still covered by Microsoft support when they deploy Microsoft products on VMware. KB 897615 continues to state:

"Additionally, ... for vendors who have Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) validated solutions, Microsoft will support server operating systems subject to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for its customers who have support agreements when the operating system runs virtualized on non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. This support will include coordinating with the vendor to jointly investigate support issues. As part of the investigation, Microsoft may still require the issue to be reproduced independently from the non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. Where issues are confirmed to be unrelated to the non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software, Microsoft will support its software in a manner that is consistent with support provided when that software is not running together with non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software."

The SVVP program allows hypervisor vendors to certify their solutions with Microsoft. VMware certifies every major release and update of its products to their maximum architectural limits. This ensures that any VMware implementation falls within Microsoft’s support guidelines.

The list of SVVP-certified products is included in Microsoft’s Windows Server Catalog.

VMware Support Safety Net

Regardless of their support status with Microsoft, all VMware customers with a valid support contract are covered by the VMware Support Safety Net. VMware maintains a Premier Support Agreement with Microsoft, and has the option of escalating directly to Microsoft on behalf of a customer in order to ensure high-quality support. VMware will invoke this service at its sole option and discretion, and has found it to be highly effective in resolving extremely complex or difficult cases.

SharePoint Services Support

While support under SVVP is available to any Microsoft customer including per-call requests, the scope of support is narrower than that offered to Microsoft’s Premier customers. The products that are included in SVVP support are listed in KB Article 957006.

The complete portfolio of SharePoint 2007 products is supported under SVVP:

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Windows SharePoint Services
"Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Service Pack 1 and later versions are supported. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 1 and later versions are supported."

SQL Server Support

Since SQL Server is also a key component of a SharePoint deployment, the support policy for SQL Server may be of interest. Both SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 are supported as defined in KB Article 956893:

"Microsoft provides technical support for SQL Server 2005 and for SQL Server 2008 that are running in the following hardware virtualization environments:

  • Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008
  • Configurations that are certified through the Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP)"

Microsoft has also made an important change to its policy for support of SQL Server in Windows Clusters. This ensures that any VMware vSphere / ESX 4.0 customer will be supported when running SQL Server in a failover cluster configuration:

“Guest Failover Clustering is supported for SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 in a virtual machine for Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, and SVVP certified configurations provided both of the following requirements are met:

  • The Operating System running in the virtual machine ("Guest Operating System") is Windows Server 2008 or higher
  • The virtualization environment meets the requirements of Windows 2008 Failover Clusters"