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  • File Server Design Question

    My company has finally ventured into the realm of virtualization by purchasing a Cisco UCS with VMWare. I've had some fun over the past 2-3 months, bringing up new servers and converting a few servers from a physical to virtual. Truly fun stuff. Anyways, one of the bigger servers in my enviroment, a traditional Windows file server is now on the docket for a full virtualization transformation.

    With that being said, I plan to bring up a brand new Windows 2008 VM, create a 1TB LUN on my SAN and migrate using robocopy. However, I'm still debtaing on how to connect to my SAN. I have both Fibre Channel and iSCSI available on my SAN.

    The iSCSI piece would be very easy for me to tackle and probably something I could do in the course of a night. Should I even consider Fibre Channel? If so, what's the process of adding Fibre Channel to my VM?
    MCITP:SA, MCSA 2003, MCP, CCNA, A+, Net+, Security+

  • #2
    Re: File Server Design Question

    Originally posted by boondock View Post

    The iSCSI piece would be very easy for me to tackle and probably something I could do in the course of a night. Should I even consider Fibre Channel? If so, what's the process of adding Fibre Channel to my VM?
    Just for clarification, are you wanting to use NPIV or an iSCSI initiator in the guess VM or using a VMDK located on either an iSCSI or FC datastore?

    -Jason
    MCSA/MCSE 2K3,MCITP:ESA,MCTS x 4,VCP x 2

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    • #3
      Re: File Server Design Question

      I'd like to assume you're using iSCSI on your SAN right now to run the VMs but I can't. So as VWA asked can you please clarify exactly what you mean by "I'm still debtaing on how to connect to my SAN."

      Is your new Win2k8 VM living on local storage in the server and you're wondering how you'd connect from that server to the SAN which will host the new share?

      I'd have figured your ESX host is installed locally(or not?), but your VMs are already living on the shared storage over iSCSI or FC... Then again it's entirely possibly your UCS servers are running with the VMs hosted locally and this is why you're asking about the "how to connect to my SAN" ...

      see... to many variables to provide an answer.. let us know.

      - Ravi Shanghavi, Ottawa

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      • #4
        Re: File Server Design Question

        Alright, after I wrote my original post, I thought of several ways to better clarify myself.

        My ESX host is installed locally on the server storage.

        Right now, we have our virtual machines living on a fibre channel connected SAN.

        Basically, what I'm wanting to know is...

        Can I create a LUN on my fibre channel SAN and add that disk to my file server virual machine?

        OR

        Do I need to create a LUN and connect the Guest OS of the VM (Windows) to the LUN via iSCSI?

        If I can use the existing fibre channel, how do I make this happen?
        MCITP:SA, MCSA 2003, MCP, CCNA, A+, Net+, Security+

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        • #5
          Re: File Server Design Question

          boondock,

          Thanks for the extra information.

          From what I read you have 3 options to choose from:

          1. Create a LUN on your SAN and present it to your ESX host (or hosts) and configure the VM with a RDM pointing to that storage.

          2. Using the iSCSI initiator native to Windows and connect to a LUN carved out on the SAN that way

          3. Create the new LUN on your SAN and present it to your ESX host (or hosts) and create a new datastore out of that space with an 8MB block size (giving you the ability to create up to a 2TB minus 512B VMDK)

          Out of the those three options, I would choose number 3. It is the cleanest and easiest to configure/manage. Option 1 and 2 would be valid if you wanted to use array based snapshots/cloning, but if not in opinion not worth the extra steps to implement.

          -Jason
          MCSA/MCSE 2K3,MCITP:ESA,MCTS x 4,VCP x 2

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          • #6
            Re: File Server Design Question

            Thanks for that. What you said regarding number 3 makes a WHOLE lot of sense.

            I'm going to create another LUN and link my ESX host to that LUN and create my file server inside of that LUN.
            MCITP:SA, MCSA 2003, MCP, CCNA, A+, Net+, Security+

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            • #7
              Re: File Server Design Question

              Finally a thread about File Serverīs Virtualization design!! Iīve search google for a long time and it cames almost empty every time.

              Is anyone aware of some other material from VMware regarding File Serverīs?

              The only thing I could came up with was this :

              file_print_dns_wp.pdf (from vmware, google has it i can not post a url right now)

              At work we are about to have a costumer that itīs going to be using vSphere to virtualize a File Server running Samba.

              I know VMware marketing has File Serverīs covered since the 3.0/3.5 days, but even so, I found strange that I can not find a single reference regarding possible designs paths, or common problems, etc.

              Iīm currently in the rol of VMware Admin trying to provide insight for another team that will actually be doing the administration of the virtual file server (that is if the project actually happens and doubts donīt end up closing the virtualization path).

              Is anyone able to provide some reference regarding this?

              To sum it up the questions would be :

              Are there any known issues running Samba as a File Server inside a VM? or the lack of information means everything runs smoothly?

              Is there any white paper, best practice regarding implementing File Serverīs on vSphere that I havenīt been able to find?

              Is there a best practices for were to put the Data?, is Raw Device Mappings the way to go for the Data?, is separating the OS vmdk and adding a second one for the Data the way to go?

              Iīve thinking about a simple desing, only using vmdkīs, separating the OS from the DATA vmdk and putting the DATA vmdk as an independent disk in order to be able to use snapshots on the Operating System disk.

              Well, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

              Thanks!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: File Server Design Question

                Originally posted by Superunknown View Post
                is separating the OS vmdk and adding a second one for the Data the way to go?
                This is a must. It gives you flexibility and options with regards to the growth of your data and the backups of your os, along with the actual location of both of these items. In most cases file servers live on less expensive storage arrays as opposed to databases or OS's. If say for example your company purchased a new SAN with SATA shelves you could move your data onto there.

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