VMware ESXi File server with large volumes

I'm looking for comments on running a Windows 2008 file server on VMware ESXi

What I am considering is running a Windows 2008 VM on ESXi, with VMFS storage on a SAN with up to 2 TB shares from the VMFS.

Anyone running a similar setup? Could please share your experience?

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2TB is the max for VMware, but up to that size should not cause any problems. I run several SQL servers with drives that size.

If you need to go larger, I would suggest attaching the vm guest directly to the San using the Windows iscsi initiator.
Brent400Author Commented:
I guess my main concern is running such large volumes in a VMFS files system.
I'll have about 65 users hitting these shares. Not sure if the VMFS files system, which is essentially just a file I believe, is robust enough and up to the task....
Backups are your best friend.

It is really going to be up to what hardware you put it on. If you are concerned about it, use the iscsi connector to connect directly to the san. This will of course exclude the directory from snapshots. This may or may not be desirable.

I use the iscsi initiator inside my Windows guests to connect to a 18tb iscsi target on a Linux box. I store DVR video Recordings on it for over 100 different stores simultaneously. It works great,
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100 stores with 2 to 3 cameras each. The hardware is an array with 16 2Tb drives in a raid 6 configuration. I have some other smaller partitions and hot spares that account for the size difference.
Brent400Author Commented:
ISCSI to a lun works great and I have used that in the past . I"m asking about the VMFS file system in this case.
Justin CAWS Solutions ArchitectCommented:
The VMFS filesystem's performance ultimately relies on the underlying disk array.  Your bottleneck will be the IOPS that the spindles making up the array are able to push, not the filesystem itself.  VMFS datastores can grow to much larger than 2TB by using extents, the 2TB limit is not a performance thing.

What is your storage configuration?
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
To alleviate your concerns you can create multiple datastores and volumes on the VM.  You can then migrate the shares to different volumes on the destination virtual machine.  This way you're breaking up the IOPS (if done correctly) to the LUNs.

Personally I have seen File server VMs much larger (around 3TB) using NFS datastores and work well. I have also seen large file servers on VMs with VMFS that work well too.

For that amount of data you may want to look at SAN that supports CIFS with snapshots such as a Netapp.  We typically offload the CIFS data and let the Netapp join the domain and we give it the same name as the old file server with the same ip address.  No one knows any different and restores are in seconds due to snapshot capability as well as deduplication that saves us 50% in most cases on the SAN storage requirements.

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Brent400Author Commented:
Yes, I was planning on splitting my shares up across multiple luns on different arrays. I think the performance will be fine. Just got some cold feet about VMFS robustness as a production file system.

Storage configuration is a Coraid SRX 2800 16TB.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
VMFS is optimized for virutal machines and we have customers totaling 100's TB of data without issues.  I would be more concerned about the hardware and make sure that it's ont the VMWare HCL.
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