VMware file server - best way to handle lots of data

Posted on 2010-09-13
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
We are building a new VMware (vShere / ESX 4 cluster) Windows Server 2008 file server that will be sharing many TB of data located on a NAS via NFS.

What’s the best way to mount and share that data via the VM? It just seems odd to create one or more multi TB disks for the VM out on the NAS. I could see issues if I need to deal with that data in an emergency and need to get to data quickly or move things around.

Would it make more sense to do something like access the files on the NAS via DFS from the VM or something like that and just leave the files as files on the NAS box? Would that create a performance or other headaches?

So what is the best way to deal with lots of data from a VM via NFS?

Question by:willp2
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Expert Comment

ID: 33663688
Why not make one of the Virtual Machine a file share server or DFS so the files will be on NAS and other VMs and users can access it via simple files share principal.
LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 33663776
I would create the 2TB LUNs and present them to the ESX(i) Cluster. Create 2TB-512k vmdk disk files for your VM. That will keep everything within the limits for VMware. Don't forget to format the datastores with 8MB block size to allow the largest possible vmdk files.

If you need larger virtual disks in your 2008 server use the Windows facilities to create larger volumes out of multiple LUNs.

This solution will give you full support for VMware HA, DRS, and vmotion.

Good Luck

Author Comment

ID: 33663832
Now if I was using DFS via the VM, wouldn't HA and vmotion still work as the VM is pointing to the data on the NAS directly?
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Expert Comment

ID: 33664690
I would suggest to go with what bgoering said.

However NFS are not limited like vmfs to 2TB-512B. So you can create much higher disk.
But think as best practice if you want to move those vmdk to another storage.


Author Comment

ID: 33664789
I guess my main issue for looking at keeping data out of the vmdk was just if I needed to get at the data quickly in case of a big problem. In the past when we had some hardware issues we needed to home around hundreds of gigs of data before we could do anything with it. I'm just not crazy about having many TB of data more or less locked up like that.

Simonseztech, what do you mean by "But think as best practice if you want to move those vmdk to another storage."

Are you suggesting that the vmdk's shouldn't be out on NFS or what exactly?



Expert Comment

ID: 33664845
You should present your NFS to your vSphere server then create virtual disk on the NFS datastore.

Even if VMware on NFS doesn't limit you to 2TB-512B, you should keep in mind that if someday you have
to move the file (update, disaster recovery etc...) it's much better to limit yourself to the 2TB-512B and
let windows 2008 join multiple disk.( I speek from experience )
LVL 28

Accepted Solution

bgoering earned 500 total points
ID: 33665389
I am guessing the data is currently on some device that is being shared by NFS, and you are wanting to create a DFS for that data. Is that correct?

If the data is not needed in NFS I would still recommend that you do as I suggested in my earlier post and live with the 2TB LUN restrictions.

However you could certainly proceed with your 2008 as a VM just as you would if your 2008 was a physical server and access that NFS data using a Native 2008 NFS client, then create your DFS environment. That will work, but will not be quite as efficient as if your were to migrate that data into vmdk files.

What you can't do is violate that 2TB limit for a maximum datastore extent size, or the 2TB-512MB limit for a maximum vmdk file.

Good Luck

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