VMWare ESX using datastore on Windows 2003 Services for Unix SFU cannot format NTFS or FAT partitions.

Posted on 2009-02-12
Last Modified: 2013-12-23
The setup:
DL360 G4p with E500 PCIx SAS Controller + MSA60
This is Windows 2003 SP2 (fully updated) with Services for Unix installed and configured

DL360 G4p with VMWare ESX 3.5 installed and configured.

I setup 2 RAID5 logical drives on the MSA and created 1 folder on each and configured the folder with NFS sharing.

I configured on a VMKernel NIC 2 NFS ESX datastores for hosting Virtual Machines.

I have created several test guest OS's (All Windows Server 2003) so far, but none have completed successfully. (The SFU logs all show enormous amounts of successful reads and writes by the ESX host).

I'm not thinking it's permissions because all of the VM files are on the Windows NFS shares, all appropriately sized.

It's right when I try to format the partition in 2003 setup (for the guest OS) that it hangs at 20% if I use NTFS quick, 100% if I use NTFS Full Format, but it does hang right there.   It seems very odd to hang at that point.  I have created a test Windows 2003 guest OS on the local datastore on the ESX server without issue.

I thought it may have been the MSA60 and the E500, but I also tried to configure a guest OS on the Smart Array 6i, the main RAID 0.  But it's the same issue.  The NFS shows up, the files get created on the Windows box in the shared NFS folder.  I can make some changes, such as creating the partitions in the VMDK, those changes do persist past a reboot, I can delete the partitions, those changes persist past a reboot.

It's only formatting that I cannot get past, either quick or full.

I use the NFS datastore model on my EMC Celerra NS20 without issue, but that is native NFS.  Any ideas?
Question by:ShopLiftin
    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    If you're using DL360 G4 strictly for NFS you may want to look at FreeNAS or Openfiler which are linux based and have native NFS which will run faster and more effeciently then emulating via Windows.

    Author Comment

    I appreciate the advice, but the idea was to reduce the size of my VM environment.  If I must have a Windows server to host Virtual Center Server, the LMTools License Manager for the VM Host servers and host my LTO backup drives, run Backup Exec so that my VM guest OS's can just have the agents installed, I was hoping that the same Windows Server could also host the NFS datastore.  The whole model that I envisioned here was:
    1 MSA 60 & 1 Quantum LTO3 Backup Unit Connect to:
        1 DL360 (Win2K3, Backup Exec, LMTools, VC Server)
        1 NIC Connected to Main LAN, 1 NIC Connected to VLan for NFS
    2 DL360's Running ESX 3.5 with 1 each NIC to Main LAN and NIC to VLan for NFS

    Any other ideas?
    LVL 42

    Accepted Solution

    The issue I experienced with Windows running NFS is that it is slow.  What I have done is use an old DL380 G3 ($400 with drives) with openfiler to setup NFS natively and increase I/O for the VM environment.  I have a separate server running Backpu Exec and Virtual Center because VC can only be installed on 32 bit environment and unless you have enterprise version of windows it will support 4GB memory max. (about 3.5GB usable) and that could lead to issues if you have Backup Exec, VC, and NFS running on the same box.

    If you haven't purchased the Backup Exec agent for VI3 you may want to look at Vizioncore's VRanger, it would be a cheaper alternative and you would backup disk-disk and than BUE to tape, the agent is expensive and is only cost effective for larger environments.  VRanger gives you a lot more capabilities to do restores and is faster.

    My $.02

    Author Comment

    The idea was to reuse hardware that I removed from this facility when I made the move to virtualization.

    I do also have an older DL360 G3 that I could use as the Windows component, I was just hoping to reduce the amount of running servers to as little as possible.

    Since I started having issues with this project I have read in several other places that the Windows NFS write times are pathetic.  I don't know why that would be the case, but it is.  It's not the network speed, it's actually the Windows 2003 & SFU 3.5 disk write speeds.  It's as if Windows is doing something funky and extraneous that isn't necessary.

    Thanks P.

    Author Closing Comment

    This is also what I experienced,.  The trhoughput just couldn't be raised to an acceptable level to use as an ESX NFS share.  I appreciate your help and I've gone a different way.

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