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Adding Disk Space to VM Ware Server

Posted on 2010-08-18
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I recently bought a new server and have VMWare ESX 4.0 loaded. I found some articles alluding to the best way to partition the drive space. That is done and all setup and I have a few VMs loaded. I am now thinking I want to put a few more VMs on this box and am running low on disk space. I have room for 4 more drives in the server (actually more if I remove the DVD drive bay). The 4 drives currently installed are configured as RAID 5. So anyway, is it possible to add more drive space to the existing server and have it allocated for additional VMs? If so, does anyone have a very ELEMENTARY walkthrough on how to do so... step-by-step guide would be nice.
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Question by:djerryanderson
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coolsport00 earned 400 total points
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All you need to do is install your new disks in your ESX host and configure them as a RAID. Then, log into your host with vSphere Client. Click on the host to the left, then Configuration tab on the right. Click Storage Adapters in the Hardware box and 'rescan' your vmhba's. After that completes (a minute or 2 is all), go to 'Storage' and then the 'Add Storage' link. Choose to add a Disk/LUN and walk through the rest of the process. Be careful when choosing the block size. If you wanna have storage on your VMs for particular GB sizes, you will need to configure the block size accordingly:
1MB(default) = 256GB virtual disk sizes
2MB = 512GB
4MB = 1TB
8MB = 2TB

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:bgoering
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That would depend on the type of server and raid controller. If the raid controller gives you the capability to expand your existing array, or to create a new raid group with the new drives it shouldn't be any problem.

If it doesn't expanding would involve backup up your existing data, creating a new raid set with all the drives, reinstalling and configuring ESX, then restoring your VMs.

What kind of server is it? What raid controller is installed?
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by:ericnils
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You won't be able to add the space to your existing data store, but you can create a new RAID array using four new disks then create a second datastore on that second array.
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by:bgoering
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Actually, if the controller supports creating a new raid group - it could be added as an extent to an existing datastore.
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by:djerryanderson
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I don;t mean to sound stupid here, but when I installed the VMWare software it looked like it just took the existing siks and created the RAID array for me - at least I hope it did. This was a bare bones server and I bought and installed the drives myself so I whatever the VMWare software did...it allocated space that equaled 3 of the drives so I'm assuming it created a RAID 5 Array. (Again, sorry - first time VM user here).

The server is an HP Proliant ML380 G6 - this one to be exact:

http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.aspx?EDC=1723415

Came with 8GB of RAM and I added 16 GB more. Has 4 146 GB SAS drives and as I said, I have room for 4 more and I can remove the optical drive bay and more there too.
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by:djerryanderson
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looked like it just took the existing DISKS and created the RAID array

Sorry - fat fingers at it again.
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by:coolsport00
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It shouldn't have; you have to create the RAID in the BIOS typically. You can install ESX/i and it automatically create a datastore on the same disk you do the install on, though. What is the size of your datastore?

~coolsport00
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by:bgoering
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I can't imagine it would have created any kind of raid for you - VMware just doesn't do that. Probably when you ran your system setup utility on the server it created a raid set for you.

There are several options for internal raid controllers on your server. Can you determine which one you have?
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by:djerryanderson
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I can't imagine it would have created any kind of raid for you - VMware just doesn't do that. Probably when you ran your system setup utility on the server it created a raid set for you.
Yea, that's just it - I didn't run any kind of setup utility at all. I just physically installed the disks, booted to the ESX DVD and started the setup directly. It recognized 408 GB (or thereabouts) which is just shy of 3 of the 146 GB disks (I have 4 installed).

As far as the controller...VMWare shows it as a HP Smart Array P410i. Sorry again, I don't have any details on my invoice and I am in the middle of converting a server to a VM so I cant open it up or reboot to see what shows up.


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by:djerryanderson
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As soon as this conversion is done I am going to check the RAID config from the controller BIOS. I should have done that before, but I get in such a hurry to set these things up...bad excuse I know.
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by:coolsport00
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Ha...who doesn't hurry...umm...sometimes :)

~coolsport00
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by:Stappmeyer
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It appears that your server was shipped configured with RAID5 configured.  You should be able to install the 4 new disks, access your raid controller during a boot and configure a new array.  That array can then be added as an extend to the existing vmfs volume or as a new datastore.
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by:bgoering
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Looking at the specs for your raid controller (http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/servers/proliantstorage/arraycontrollers/smartarrayp410/index.html) it appears that it will support the capacity expansion you are looking for.

I would agree with Stappmeyer that the server must have been shipped with raid pre-configured. With the 408 GB you are seeing that sounds a lot like 3 disks in a raid 5 set and 1 hot spare.

Summary - you should have no issues adding the 4 new drives.

Good Luck
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by:djerryanderson
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You should be able to install the 4 new disks, access your raid controller during a boot and configure a new array.
That part I can handle.
That array can then be added as an extend to the existing vmfs volume or as a new datastore.
 This is what I was hoping to get help with. How do I do that or does anone have a step-by-step guide on this. If it comes down to it, I can add my disks (I ordered 4 more of the 146 last night) and just redo a new array and then restore my existing VMs. I'm new to all this so if anyoen has any suggestions or has a walkthrough I would appreciate it.
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by:coolsport00
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We can certainly assist, but is there a reason why you don't want to have a whole separate datastore? It's best to do so so you don't have all your "eggs" (VMs) in one basket, so to speak. Just a suggestion. So, it's as simple as configuring your RAID, doing a rescan as noted above, then Add Storage :)

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:djerryanderson
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i dont care if it's all one datastore or a separate partition. If I add disks and create a second RAID 5 array does VMWare automatically detect that storage space and allow you to create VMs (or convert) on that space or do you have to do "something" to get VMWare to incorporate the space into it's available storage. hope that makes sense - please understand I am completely new to this and when I sound clueless...it's because I am.
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by:coolsport00
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Yes...it will auto detect. You won't have to do anything....well, accept add the datastore, so I guess it's not "auto" detect, but ESX will 'see' the storage. What you do after the disks are created in a RAID, is go through the Add Storage wizard (Configuration tab, Storage link under the Hardware box/section), select 'Disk/LUN' and add the storage as a new datastore. As mentioned in my 1st post, if you need disks for your VMs larger than 256GB, choose the appropriate block size.

~coolsport00
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by:djerryanderson
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I'll give it a try. I ordered the disks late last night so they should be here tomorrow. Also, you lost me on the block size. I am vaguely familiar with the concept, but I usually just leave the setting to default when given the option - probably need to learn a bit more about that stuff I suppose, but I am not really into hardware config (more of an AD and Exchange person actually). Here are some scrren shots of my setup. I have 4 disks totaling 400+ GB of storage space and will add another 400 with the new disks. Right now it is at MAX FILE SIZE = 256GB and BLOCK SIZE = 1MB. So are you saying I should change the block size for that setup becasue the physical disks exceed that size?  Or are you saying if the disk size for my individual VMs exceed 256 GB then I need to up it? If it's the latter, how would I do that...and if I do that is there performance issues with higher block sizes? Is it beneficial to make the Block Size larger "just in case" or only if...?

Doc1.docx
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by:bgoering
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You will increase the block size if you wish to give any virtual machines on the new datastore any hard disks bigger than 256GB

The MAX FILE SIZE = 256GB indicates that is the largest vmdk file you can create. If you wish to have larger virtual hard disks then increase your block size to 2MB or 4MB. You do that at the time you add the new datastore.

Good Luck
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by:coolsport00
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Most will use the default block size as virtual disks for VMs aren't needed that are more than 256GB. Now, if you have a file server, that may not be the case. Basically, if you need to add another volume (say, e: drive) to a VM, that is a virtual disk in VMware terms. If that volume needs to be > than 256GB, you have to have it on a datastore with a block size that accommodates that max virt disk size. The max size is listed above. So, it's not total disk space, it's disk usage by an individual VM. If the disk/volume needs to be > 256GB, you will need to wipe your datastore and recreate it with a larger block size. Hope that helps.

~coolsport00
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by:bgoering
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Actually I would expect to closer to 520GB on your new datastore - Your existing one is likely only using 3 of the 4 drives with the other drive configured as a hot spare.
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by:djerryanderson
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Your existing one is likely only using 3 of the 4 drives with the other drive configured as a hot spare.

You sure on that? 146GB drives times 3 would be 438 (I have 408 usable) then the 4th drive to check parity. I would think with 3+hotspare I would only have 2 drives worth of use or just under 300GB + one for parity + one for hotspare.
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by:bgoering
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No - you are correct all 4 of the 146 GB drives would yield the 438 GB usable capacity configured as raid 5. So (in my not so humble opinion) when you add drives, unless you desperately need the space, I would only configure (or expand) the raid group with 3 of the new drives and reserve one for a hot spare. Three drives will yield 291.97 GB of usable storage if added as a 2nd raid group. However, if you can expand your existing raid group to 7 drives you will have 875.95 GB of usable. The amount of overhead for each drive goes down a bit the more drives there are in the raid group.

If you were to ignore my hot spare recommendation and configure all 8 drives you will have 1022 GB of space.

Calculations are a bit tricky - but I generally configure my raid groups as 7+1 (7 data, 1 parity) or 8+1 so at a glance the overhead seemed reasonable for three drives. No excuse I know - should have gone through the calculations.

Good Luck

BTW - the link I posted earlier in this thread indicated that expanding your existing array was a possibility so long as you have the BBWC (Battery Backed Write Cache) feature. If you don't have that feature it would be good to add because it will permit write back caching instead of only write through caching and dramatically help write performance.
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