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
Welcome to Experts Exchange

Add your voice to the tech community where 5M+ people just like you are talking about what matters.

  • Help others & share knowledge
  • Earn cash & points
  • Learn & ask questions
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • +1

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?
Ransomware: The New Cyber Threat & How to Stop It

This infographic explains ransomware, type of malware that blocks access to your files or your systems and holds them hostage until a ransom is paid. It also examines the different types of ransomware and explains what you can do to thwart this sinister online threat.  


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

Featured Post

Free Tool: Path Explorer

An intuitive utility to help find the CSS path to UI elements on a webpage. These paths are used frequently in a variety of front-end development and QA automation tasks.

One of a set of tools we're offering as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

Restoring deleted objects in Active Directory has been a standard feature in Active Directory for many years, yet some admins may not know what is available.
Ransomware is a malware that is again in the list of security  concerns. Not only for companies, but also for Government security and  even at personal use. IT departments should be aware and have the right  knowledge to how to fight it.
This tutorial will walk an individual through configuring a drive on a Windows Server 2008 to perform shadow copies in order to quickly recover deleted files and folders. Click on Start and then select Computer to view the available drives on the se…
This Micro Tutorial hows how you can integrate  Mac OSX to a Windows Active Directory Domain. Apple has made it easy to allow users to bind their macs to a windows domain with relative ease. The following video show how to bind OSX Mavericks to …

756 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question