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Best way to utilize ESXi 4.1 local storage for a 2008 Server Fileserver

Posted on 2011-03-04
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I'm looking for a little advise on how to best use the local storage on my Dell R710 Vmware Box. Current setup is ESXi 4.1 Essentials running on a USB stick on a Dell R710. Server has 8 500GB SAS drives. 6 of the drives are setup in 2 sets of raid 5 drives, vol1 (1 TB) and vol2 (1 TB). The other two drives are not configured. I'm eventually going to redo the raid setup as Raid10 and utilize the two drives that are not being used, it was already setup this way when I got here so  I didn't mess with it. Currently There are 8 Virtual machines on Vol1 taking up about 400 GB. Vol2 is currently unused and has 1TB free.

My question is, what is the best way to utilize the 1TB on Vol2.  I would like to use the 1TB as storage for a fileserver.  I have a 2008 Server VM that I want to put he 1 TB on somehow.  What is the best way to do this.  I could create 4 235 or so GB VMDK's and then attach them to the 2008 server as spanned disks.  Is this a good or bad idea? What other options are there.

Thanks!



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Question by:bevege
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dlethe earned 167 total points
ID: 35040655
No, it would be foolish to combine physical drives into a logical disk, then break logical drives up into 4 more logical drives under esxi, then recombine them under windows in a slightly different way back into a logical drive.  

Keep it simple.   The less slicing and dicing and recombining the better.  The most efficient thing you can do, especially for a server is to do the vmdirect I/O so that VM has full control over the disks. I don't know if that is possible with your config, so next best thing is to just make a single VMDK directly from the RAID10 you create.
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by:coolsport00
coolsport00 earned 167 total points
ID: 35041549
RDM isn't an option for local storage...I assume that's what you meant by 'vmdirect I/O' "dlethe"?

I agree with "dlethe"...keep your volumes (VMDKs/virtual disks) simple. Since they'll be on the same RAID, it really doesn't matter. If you're gonna have separate network drives for your file shares, just make each of those a separate virtual disk...that's what I've done in my org (my file server has 4 "volumes/drives"). But, in my case, what I did was span those volumes over separate RAID groups on my SAN. But, in your case, my recommendation is to simply create your 4 virt disks (VMDKs) on your RAID Group. Keep in mind when deciding your RAID group, when it comes time to add the storage as a datastore, it must be under 2TB (specifically, 2TB - 512MB).

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 166 total points
ID: 35043272
Why 4 VMDK files at all rather than just one big one?
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Author Comment

by:bevege
ID: 35060014
Andyalder,

It would not let me create a VMDK larger than 256 GB. You got me thinking and I remembered that the max VMDK size is supposed to be 2TB, so why didn't it work.  BTW, Coolsport00 mentioned this above but it didn't click in my little brain.

You have to go and rebuild the volume with a different block size, changing the block size to 4MB allowed me to have a VMDK of up to 1TB.  

So now, I'm just going to make the 1TB VMDK on Vol2 the filestore for the Windodws 2008 Server.

Thanks everyone.
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Expert Comment

by:coolsport00
ID: 35060070
I never did answer "andy..." - reason why I suggested 4 is my assumption that his file server has 4 ntwk drives/shares. For me, I want to keep them on separate volumes, which for me also means spanning separate SAN RAIDs for better performance. :)

BTW...glad to assist! :)

~coolsport00
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