Setting up ESXi 5.0 with SAN Storage

I will be setting up our first Dell disk less server at my company. The Dell server has a compact flash card which is boots ESXi 5.0 from. We just got a SAN about six months ago and all of our exist ESX/ESXi 4.0 - 5.0 servers use local storage only. I have never setup Vmware to run VM's from a SAN and want to do it correctly with Experts helps..

1) In order to run my VM from the SAN what storage format should I use or is recommend? VMFS?

2) I know I should only have one LUN per host but how can one LUN per host work going forward with vmotion?

3) Right now I have a range of vSphere licenses everything from Standard, Advanced and one Enterprise license for ESXi 5.0. What is the best way to move a VM from local to SAN storage?

4) How can I tell if a LUN / SAN volume is overloaded with I/O?

Since I haven't done this before please let me know of anything else I should be aware of
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. RAID 10 and as many disks as possible in the Array for the datastores. If you have to compromise on storage RAID 5, which will give you poorer Read and Write performance.

2. You can have multiple LUNs per Host.

3. Storage vMotion or Cold Migrtation (turn VM off and use Migrate Option).

4. Performance Statitics, check Read and Write Latencys in Performance Charts on Datastores.

Veeam Monitor for free

If you want a quick tool, to help you with wanting to know all the individual elements, then I would suggest using Veeam Monitor Free Edition

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If you want to get down and dirty with the servers, then I would recommend the following documents

Performance Monitoring and Analysis

Guest-based performance monitoring is an inaccurate and unhelpful means of evaluating performance in virtual deployments.  See Guest-based Performance Measurement for more inforamtion.  Monitoring and analysis of VMware ESX Server should be performed with esxtop and VirtualCenter.

esxtop is the tried-and-true means of collecting every performance stat  needed and making it available in a way that is conducive to analysis.  The best source of information on launching esxtop can be found in the Resource Management Guide (page 159).

1. Check and correct CPU utilization: CPU Performance Analysis and Monitoring

2. Identify memory bottlenecks and remove: Memory Performance Analysis and Monitoring

3. Characterize storage performance and correct: Storage Performance Analysis and Monitoring

4. Understand and improve the network utilization profile: Network Performance Analysis and Monitoring

Within each of these articles are techniques for using counters from  VirtualCenter and esxtop.  Information on those counters is provided in

vCenter Performance Counters
esxtop Performance Counters

Also, note that, while useless in collecting performance data, Perfmon  can help with analysis of large esxtop output files.  

Using Perfmon for esxtop-based Performance Analysis

Did not know, EE also has VMware Articles? Checkout my EE Articles

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

How to Backup an ESXi installation on an USB Flash Drive or SD card, for security or redundancy.

HOW TO: Enable Jumbo Frames on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi 5.0) host server using the VMware vSphere Client

HOW TO: Add an iSCSI Software Adaptor and Create an iSCSI Multipath Network in VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 4.1

HOW TO: Add an iSCSI Software Adaptor and Create an iSCSI Multipath Network in VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.0

iSCSI SAN Configuration Guide

Fibre Channel SAN Configuration Guide ESX 4.1

vSphere 5.0 Storage Guide

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1) RAID 5 should be sufficient (8+1 or 4+1 config recommended). RAID10 is overkill. Most newer SANs support the concept of MetaLUNs or aggregates that let you stripe a LUN across multiple RAID5 arrays. This gives you most of the performance of RAID10 (still have a slight write penalty) without the high cost of extra disks you need to get the same amount of usable storage. You won't notice the difference unless you are running heavy transactional database apps and those server should be put on their own dedicated spindles on the SAN. As far as the filesystem it depends on your SAN/Vendor/licensing. Some SANs have NAS capabilities and support NFS (but must be licensed for it and possibly require addional hardware installed to support those features). If yours only supports iSCSI or FibreChannel protocols then your only real option is VMFS. Either way VMFS has less overhead than NFS and can give you better performance in most situations simply because of the lower I/O latency that VMFS on block storage provides. NFS is useful for templates and ISO image storage but for demanding applications you will find NFS doesn't scale well without significant network configuration tweaking and is generally limited to a single NIC worth of bandwidth regardless of how many NICs you assign to a vSwitch. VMFS Datastores that live on iSCSI and FibreChannel LUNs support multipathing for I/O and if your SAN Vendor supports it you can enable Round-Robin multipathing allowing you to make use of all the storage ports on your SAN and your hosts. This lowers latency and increases bandwidth as simultaneous I/O requests can be handled in parallel across all storage adpaters in a host.

2) You most certainly can have multiple LUNs per host (you can have up to 256). For VMotion to function you must have all LUNs presented to each host with identical LUN ID's. Exactly how this is accomplished is different per SAN vendor, consult their documentation and their best practices with regards to ESX. If you are using FibreChannel or iSCSI pay close attention to how you configure multipath, you will have stability and/or performance issues if you don't adhere to your array vendors recommended configuration for ESX.

3) The easiest way to move a VM from local storage to SAN is using Storage VMotion and it is the only method that is non-disruptive (VM can stay running while it is being moved). Only Enterprise and Enterprise Plus provide this feature however. Ever other edition only allows cold migrations (VM must be powered off). In your case you could make do by VMotioning a VM to the host with Entreprise licensing perform a Storage VMotion then VMotion it back to another host and repeat for the remaining VMs. You're better off in the long run if you have all your hosts in a cluster licensed at the same level as this prevents potential misconfigurations that keep particular VM's from running on certain hosts.

4) Monitor Read and Write Latencies in Performance tab in VCenter. Anything north of 11ms for any length of time means your disk subsystem is likely becoming a bottleneck. Monitor disk queuing in the VM's themselves. If you have a constant queue of I/O requests greater than 1 then the OS is waiting on the disk.
compdigit44Author Commented:
I should use VMFS5 and does Veeam report on per VM I/O?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
free version of Veeam is limited.
compdigit44Author Commented:
Should veeam be install on my vCEnter server?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I like to put it on a different server as a trial or test.
compdigit44Author Commented:
ok thanks I should use VMFS5 on my SAN though correct?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
yes if you have only ESXi 5.0 use VMFS5
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