VMware iSCSI SAN and File Sharing


I am in the process of putting together a proposal for VMWare Infrastructure using an ISCSI SAN
for storage. The SAN will consist of AIO1200r SAS (NAS/iSCSI) or Dell MD3000i (iSCSI) or similar product.

My problem is this I (will) have multiple Windows VM's running load balanced (lb is hardware based outside VMI) services that will 'ideally' require to access the same shared folders. I take it I would need to go with NAS AIO1200 approach in order to facilitate this without the need for a storage only VM, i.e. the SAN Box would handle the file serving and not another VM, this I assume would leave only the
AIO1200r SAS.

Is there anyway to allow the shared folder location to appear to all VM's as local storage rather
than a windows share ? I ask this as development tell me they've had issues with windows services and mapped drives in the past (I assme this may have been file length or permisson related)

Any help appreciated.
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I wouldn't call them folders as that's a Windows term but yes, you use iSCSI and VMFS to create shared storage between the VMware hosts and their VMs. whether it is an executable VM with an image of an OS on the VMFS partition or a shared data LUN doesn't make much difference. Even on my laptop I have 3 VMDK files, 2 have bootable Windows VMs on them and the third has a shared filesystem on it, it's a simple demo of windows clustering without having to buy a SAN.

Hopefully one of the VMware experts can describe it better, I just dabble.
Could you please explain this part a bit in detail ?
Is there anyway to allow the shared folder location to appear to all VM's as local storage rather
than a windows share ?

VanLouinAuthor Commented:
Hello kumarnirmal,

Not sure how much more detail I can give but essentially is it possible to have each Windows VM 'think'
that the files are local i.e. on a diklocated within each server instance. I understand that this would leave
you with the prblem of how to handle multiple VM access to same location, file locking etc...but just wondered if VMFS or some other product was available to handle this type of black magic.

Could be I just have to have a VM that handles the Shared Folder(s) and the other Windows VM's with the
services just talk to this..

thanks for the quick response.
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I suggest that you take a look at RDM (Raw Device Mapping) - http://www.vmware.com/pdf/esx25_rawdevicemapping.pdf
nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.Commented:
Be careful when doing this and trying to make two Windows OS write concurrently to the same volume as a local drive. Windows writes a signate to local drives and this can cause issues.

Rather, I would suggest you consider an NFS mapped volume for local drive access.
VanLouinAuthor Commented:
thanks guys.

I did a little more reading and my concern with the AIO1200r is its lack of redundant RAID controller so I
will probably look at Dell MD3000i for the SAN. This means I'll have to have VM that will effectively act
as the file server.

If I use NFS on the file server (which would appear to allow storage to appear local, on Linux at least) will windows VM's also see it as so ? I take it I will have to install some NFS software on the windows VMs to allow use of NFS server. Does windows services for unix have a client or do I get a 3rd party app to enable them to see the data.


Why aren't you using iSCSI? The VMs don't need to use NFS they should be using iSCSI which is the native protocol of your MD3000i. Install a file server by all means but I can't see why you would want to use NFS on it when you can use iSCSI for the VMFS.

(May I suggest you also compare price between HP MSA2000i and MD3000i, they're pretty similar boxes.)
andyalder said;
>(May I suggest you also compare price between HP MSA2000i and MD3000i, they're pretty similar boxes.)

And HP has been selling sans for a lot longer than Dell.

Depending on the size of your environment, you may want to look as an EVA series SAN from HP, they can do what you want simply, without a lot of hassle.

VanLouinAuthor Commented:
Hello Andyalder,

Excuse my ignorance sir, I am new to this. Are you saying I can use iscsi and VMFS to create folder(s) that the apps on each VM can access without the need to do NFS/CIFS etc. ? this storage to all intents and purposes would appear as local disk and handle concurrent access via multiple vm's ?

NB: I would like the shared folder(s) to be accessible by linux VM's too..

In reading the VMI documentation I was labouring under the impression that VMFS was to store the VM's themselves and facilitate the CMotion trickery etc.

Points: I would like to close this out asap and assign the points, justlike to say thanks for everyones input.
vmwarun - ArunCommented:
In other words, VMFS3 is a file system that was developed by VMware for the purpose of storing VMs and other data such as ISO Images.
VanLouinAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your help.
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