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How do I configure RAID on a Virtual Server

Posted on 2011-05-12
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Hello Experts,

I’m very much a newbie at configuring virtual machines.  I have a host server running 2008 R2 with a RAID 1 for the OS and a RAID 50 for Data.  I’ve created a Hyper-V VM with an OS 2008 R2  and I would also like to configure a RAID partition on the VM.  Is this possible?  If so can you point me to some step by step how to’s ?

Alicia
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Question by:Alicia Perillo
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by:David
ID: 35749152
You don't configure RAID partitions on the VM (well, you can, but that is not what you want to do).  All you need to do is carve out a partition on the VM.   The VM has no idea if you are exposing a RAID volume or JBOD.   It doesn't have to.

So since you are already presenting RAID partitions, then just do the same thing as if it is non-RAID.  
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by:Adam Brown
ID: 35749347
RAID is configured on the Physical Host server, so the VMs don't need to worry about it. RAID is primarily a hardware level technology, and it doesn't extend to VM configuration, but any VMs running on a Host server with a RAID array configured will be protected by that Array. You can configure software raid on the VMs, but it has to be done after the OS is installed and doesn't really provide much benefit.
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by:Alicia Perillo
ID: 35749516


Can you tell me how to configure software raid on the VM - for my knowledge base.  Also, it would be helpful to the DBA since this is a SQL server.  It would help him to be able to put logs and data on separate volumes.
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by:David
ID: 35749591
if you do this, then it will result in a performance hit.

correct thing to do is use direct io to dedicate physical (non raid) disks to just this vm.  then you will benefit.  

but based on the q, you can't do that with your current config
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by:Adam Brown
ID: 35749677
Windows Server utilizes Dynamic Disks for Software RAID. http://www.techimo.com/articles/index.pl?photo=149 has a guide on how to achieve it, despite being pretty well out of date. Basically you would configure multiple drives assigned to the VM as dynamic volumes and Mirror, Stripe, etc. the drive in the Storage Management MMC.
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by:Alicia Perillo
ID: 35749936
dlethe,

>>but based on the q, you can't do that with your current config

I would need a SAN, DAS or some other type of external storage, correct?
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Adam Brown earned 1000 total points
ID: 35750449
You would need multiple SAN/DAS devices to see any performance improvement from a software RAID configured in a VM, This is because each "Drive" in a VM is actually File and not a drive. Realistically, software RAID in a VM will give you no benefit at all unless you can ensure that each VHD file attached to the VM as a volume is sitting on a different spindle. If two VHDs in a software raid are on the same drive, you'll be cutting performance in half because data has to be written to and read from the drive twice or more (depending on the RAID level). If you have a SAN device (or a number of DAS drives) that are set up individually or in a number of different, smaller RAID arrays and you store the VM's VHD files on each (drive/array per VHD) you could theoretically see increased performance, but the performance boost would be similar to, if not exactly equal to or less than, just utilizing the RAID capabilities in hardware form on the Host server.
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by:Adam Brown
ID: 35750461
Also, if you have an iSCSI SAN available, it's better (and easier) just to mount that directly to the VMs than it is to configure and store VHDs on the SAN, then mount them to the VM.
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by:David
ID: 35751199
In order to do the direct I/O thing, you have to add more hardware, and nail it to the specific virtual machine.  I.e, you add a second RAID controller and additional disks and then tell VMware that it is married to the specific VM.  Then when you install the VM, you add drivers for the RAID controller as if it is a physical machine, and configure the logical devices as if this was a non-virtual machine.  If you do that, then the I/O for that machine would be shared with the other VMs.
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by:David
David earned 1000 total points
ID: 35751207
(Typo, if you do that, then the I/O for that machine would NOT be shared with the other machines).

If you don't need a lot of space, but have a free bay, then you could also install a small solid-state drive, and let VMware configure it, but just assign 100% to the virtual machine.  Some SSDs are now capable of sustaining 550 MB/sec random data, and 50,000+ I/Os per second.   You'll be lucky to get more than a few hundred I/Os with your current config.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Alicia Perillo
ID: 35754547
Gentleman,

Thank you very much for sharing your expertise.  Much appreciated!

Alicia
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