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Dell Equallogic PS6000X - VMware vSphere setup

Posted on 2011-03-01
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Please forgive me if this question seems a little much. I am struggling to understand the relationship between my iSCSI device and my vmware machines.

So far I have 3 vmhosts on seperate blade servers, a vcenter server on a stand alone machine and a Dell Equallogic iSCSI device.

I have made a datastore on the iSCSI from vCenter and it works great.

My question is, what is the best practice in setting up my vm guest OS(s) using the iSCSI?

Do I make one giant volume on the iSCSI for the VM machines to use?
Do I make a new LUN for each of the guests?  

I want vmotion and the ability for vcenter to swap virtual machines from one host to another.

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Question by:savone
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bhartwell earned 167 total points
ID: 35011892
You can do it either way, creating one large chunk for all of the vm's to share or just assigning individual chunks per VM. i think the easiest way would be to create one large chunk and have all the VM's utilize the multiple disks in your PS6000x array. That way you would have better IOps performance for your VM's.
As far as the Vmotion, just make sure that all your VM Hosts are identical or at least very similar in hardware, i typically configure my switches with an extra VLAN specifically for Vmotion. that way the Vmotion traffic is isolated and wont interfere with your network performance. Hope that answers your questions.
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by:jimmyray7
jimmyray7 earned 167 total points
ID: 35013546
I think you may be confusing vSphere iSCSI and guest VM iSCSI.  Normally, you would just create a  large iSCSI volume and create a VMFS datastore for your VMs.  The individual machines wouldn't even be aware of the equalogic array, they would just see their virtual hard disks.

Now if you want your VMs to have access to iSCSI storage as well, that's possible, but not necessary for most applications.
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by:kevinhsieh
kevinhsieh earned 166 total points
ID: 35013697
I agree that it is easier to manage things if you use a few large VMFS formatted volumes. All of your data will get striped across all of the spindles in your EqualLogic array anyway, so this isn't about performance. vMotion should work fine the way you have it.

You also have the option to configure your VMs to use iSCSI initiators inside the VM to connect to the SAN for data volumes. There is a theoretical performance penalty for doing this, but you get all of the benefits of your VM knowing that it is using EqualLogic storage including online volume expansion, VSS integration and offhost backups, and Auto-Snapshot Manager.
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by:savone
ID: 35013796
Ok so let me see if I understand all this.

First, the difference between vSphere iSCSI and guest OS iSCSI.  

vSphere iSCSI would be a datastore on which I can install the VM machines.

GuestOS iSCSI would be storage available to the guest OS to use just like a local disk.

Second, If I make one large volume on my iSCSI for all my VM's I will be fine.  No need to make a seperate volume for each VM, or group of VMs.

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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35014008
VMware has a caveat that a single datastore can only be 2 TB, but otherwise I believe that your understanding is good. Maybe a VMware expert can confirm the VMware stuff.
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by:jimmyray7
ID: 35018662
You've got it.  Just create your datastore in the vSphere client on the Equallogic array, and start building VMs.  The virtual drives you create in each VM will be stored on the Equallogic volume.  vSphere takes care of all the storage info, the guest OS just sees a normal hard drive.

Good luck, let us know if you have any other questions!
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by:savone
ID: 35019181
I am sure I will have more questions! VMWare is a lot to learn, I will create more questions for sure.

Thanks for the help!
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