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New VM on VMWare ESXi 4.1 host

Posted on 2011-02-14
Last Modified: 2016-10-27
I just received a new Dell PowerEdge R710 with 1 processor, 1 TB RAID 5 w/ hot spare, and 9 GB of memory.  I installed ESXi 4.1 with the intention of setting up one new VM with Server 2003, and converting two other physical Server 2003 machines.

I'd like the new VM to be a new domain controller for my network and possibly a file server, so I set it up with 2 processors, 2 GB of memory, and a 120 GB thick provisioned hard disk.  I divided the HDD into two partitions - C with 40 GB and D with 80 GB for future data.

My question is did I setup the hard disk correctly?  I see the downside is that I created a vmdk file of 120 GB, so copying this off as a backup is not very practical.  But, I do have Acronis True Image 9 I can use to make an image of the server, so not sure if this is a big deal.  Should I redo this with a single 40 GB partition and then add another disk for the data partition after the fact?  Should I make the system partition thick and the data thin?  Just not sure if any of this is a big deal, but this is my first experience with VMware and I would like to get things set up correctly!

Also - should I take any other special precautions with backup and recovery?  I expect to keep this pretty small with 3-5 VM's running on the host.  
Question by:s_sykes
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 34891817
Yeah...it's not a huge deal, but yes...you should separate the virtual disks into 2 distinct virtual disks (vmdk's). If this is a free version of ESXi you're running, backing up VMs is a bit more difficult. To take advantage of API's, you need to have a minimum of Essentials (purchased version - about $500US). You can then use such 3rd party tools as Veeam, vRanger, etc.

LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 34891820
either thin or thick works for you.
the advantage of thin is you can over commit as long as the disks in all the VMs are not all used. But if they do, then you may get in trouble.
I usually use thin and keep an eye on it. You can also setup alert to warn you.
LVL 119
ID: 34891825
Personally, I would start small, and grow..........to meet future requirments.

It depends on what backup technology you are using, some do not backup "blank unsused space".

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LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 34891827
BTW...it's best practice to have system volume on a separate virtual disk than data volume (virutal disk/vmdk).

LVL 119
ID: 34891836

Author Comment

ID: 34891902
So best practice would be to create a new VM for Server 2003 with a 20-40 GB drive and a single partition (C) and then add a second disk for data after it is all setup?
LVL 119
ID: 34891905
Thin provisioned disks:

- You cannot use Fault Tolerance with a VM that has thin provisioned disks.

- Thin Provisioning allocates the storage in the VMDK, but the storage isn't actually backed by physical disk unless the data in the Guest OS is written to disk.

- Running defrag utilities inside the Guest OS of a VM, on a disk that is thin provisioned, will cause your thin provisioned disk to eventually consume all of its provisioned space faster than it would otherwise (essentially turning it into a thick provisioned disk) due to the many writes they perform during their normal operation.

- You can change a thick provisioned disk (such as one "created" in the previous point) to a thin provisioned disk by using Storage vMotion ... this also will defrag the VMDK in the process.

- Thin provisioned disks are usually susceptible to fragmentation moreso than a thick provisioned one, but can be dealt with by doing a Storage vMotion to attempt to improve performance.

- Storage vMotioning, cloning, and snapshots of a thin provisioned disk are faster, as only the actual data is being copied.

- Zeroing out your thin provisioned VMDKs will cause them to consume all of their provisioned space (turning them into thick disks.)

- You can easily find yourself over-committing your storage if you do not closely monitor the disk usage of your thin provisioned disks.  If it's not monitored properly, and you end up provisioning more storage than you have available, then it's very easy to run into a situation where one VMDK will end up consuming the rest of the space in its datastore.
LVL 40

Accepted Solution

coolsport00 earned 300 total points
ID: 34891906
Yes sir...

LVL 119

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 200 total points
ID: 34891940
Yes, I would recommend that.

We create "skinny" 12-20GB  Win2k3 Golden Masters, this is just enough for the OS and patches.

We then create Data Disks, on a size required, sometimes we may also create Pagefile disks.

If you create different disks, at a later date, you can easily move these disks to different data stores in the future, if you are having performance issues on the datastore or LUN. If you create a C:, D:, E: all on one disk, you got to do a data migration to split the partitions onto different disks.

We believe it's about careful management of resources, CPU, Memory, Networking and Storage.


Author Closing Comment

ID: 34892061

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