Expanding physical storage space on virtual server

Hi All,

Just after a little advice on this one,

We currently have a HP ProLiant DL360 G6 1U Rack Mount Server which is running VMWare ESXi 4.0.0 (running 3 virtual servers). Currently there are 4 80GB drives (which form a raid 5) on board and we have come to the point were we are running out of storage space and need to increase the of HD's. I am wanting to know  what would be the best way of going about expanding the physical hard drive storage on the server.  We are wanting to use 250GB HD’s. Now this is the part I am a little confused with; Is this a process of inserting a new drive and allowing the raid to copy contents onto the new drive or will we need to copy the virtual machine files out of the VM ESXi onto the new drives?

The later option I am trying to avoid as I have little to no experience in doing this.

Any suggestions, advice are greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks,

Who is Participating?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Correct, Veeam Server controls the migrations communicating with VMware vSphere vCenter server.
HP Proliant servers have Smart Array Controllers,  letting you split every Phys. RAID into slices.

If you are sure your hw is hot-swappable (disks with a purple spline), you can:

Extract a disk
insert a new one (250 GB in this case)
Let it be a part of the RAID (it will be used as a 80 GB drive, but don't worry and continue reading.
Once you are sure data parity is rebuilt (cylinder led stop flashing and you confirm sucessful rebuilt in ACU software) you can proceed with next disk in the very same way
Once you replace all disks in the RAID with bigger ones, you should view free space in the RAID, using ACU.

At this point u can choose to:

create a new "slice" that will be viewed as a new phys. disk from the VMWare OS
Extend the existing "slices" to use all the room created so far.

if u choose the second one, you'll have to use your partition tool to extend the partition to use all the room. Refer to VMWare documentation on doing that.

HTH Bye!
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If you RAID 5 array is currently using 4 x 80GB drives, how many 250GB drives do you want to insert?

Depending upon your Smart Array Controller, you can add additional drives to the existing array and expand, but the expansion could take many minutes, days or hours to complete.

This will occur in the background, it will not effect the current VMFS datastore, but whilst the rebuild is taking place, performance may be affected.

Once, the RAID Array has been EXPANDED, you then need to EXPAND the Logical Disk into the free raid space created by adding new disks.

This is all completed using the Smart Array Configuration Utility (ACU) on the Smart Start Bootable CDROM.

ONCE, this has been completed you will then need to EXPAND/GROW the existing VMFS datastore using the vSphere Client, this may seem complicated, but it's really easy, right click the datastore, and select expand.

NOW, you may want to re-think about the above, because it's often better to Backup VMs, Destroy the datastore, recreate your RAID 5 datatore using 250GB disks, and restore the VMs! Benefit it's quicker, and allows you to use the full 250GB disks, if you have 3!
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Adma1Author Commented:
Hi all,

Thanks for the responses thus far.

The hard drives we have are hot swap able, so to clarify If I insert a blank 250GB (we are wanting to replace all 4 drives) will the Smart Array begin to copy or will I need to set this with the ACU? all current servers/ services will run as per normal whilr the array is copying the contents correct?

Also Hanccocka, Just referring to your comment:
"NOW, you may want to re-think about the above, because it's often better to Backup VMs, Destroy the datastore, recreate your RAID 5 datatore using 250GB disks, and restore the VMs! Benefit it's quicker, and allows you to use the full 250GB disks, if you have 3!"

If I was to decide to go with the above then will that mean that I will mean that I will need 240GB of storage in order to backup the VMs correct 3 drives @ 80GB currently at almost capacity each.

Many Thanks,
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
that very much depends on how much storage your VMs are using?

do you not currently back them up?

To alter the configuration of the Array, you will need to DOWN the server, and run the ACU.

The RAID array will run in reduced performance mode, whilst it rebuilds.
Adma1Author Commented:

We do back up the vm's as such but what we do is schedule a nightly backup within Windows on each server to perform a backup of all volumes including the bare metal recovery.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Okay, not the most efficient way of backup or restoration.
Adma1Author Commented:
Should we be backing up the VM's as well?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I would always recommend Backup of the VMs before any partition or disk changes.

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide
Adma1Author Commented:
Hi Hanccocka,

Thanks for your response, stupid question here but how do you tell if you have the free or licensed version of ESXi?

Also the 2nd stupid question is; in the attached screen shot there are 2 datastores listed - Datastore 1 and Datastore 2. Now are these the 2 data stores that I need to copy out of VM ware? if so we have a spare Identical HP Pro liant server and was proposing to put the new blank drives into the spare unit and then use the ACU to build the raid then once the raid is set up I can copy over the VM's. Does that sound like it could work?

Sorry bout the questions, I just have limited experience with this sort of stuff and your help is greatly appreciated.

many thanks,
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. Check your licensing, if it states Hypervisor in the license, it's likely to be the free version. Did you also purchase any licenses from VMware?

Do you have a VMware account with VMware, and in MyVMware do you have any licenses?

2. Depends on your license how you backup the VMs. See my previous EE Article, which explains what you can and cannot do with Free or License ESXi.

You cannot copy the datastores, you need to copy and backup the VMs from the Datastore, and then restore them to the new server. If you had vCenter Server and Licenses, you could MIgrate Virtual Machines from one server to another. But with the setup required, Backup and Restore.
Adma1Author Commented:
Hi Hanccoka,

Thanks for your assistance with the current post to date, much appreciated.
Just an update on this as I managed to get a hold of the of the people who originally set up the servers here and spoke briefly to them about the upgrade and there suggestions about how I should tackle this project was the following:

First Upgrade VMware Esxi to Version 5
Then copy the vmdk files off
Take all old disks out

Put in new disks –
Install vmware 5
Recreate the virtual servers, then attached vmdks to the correct server

Would highly recommended making sure the backups have been working successfully.
If you the migration process to new the disks isn’t working, and you take the new disks out and put all the old ones back in,

My only concern with the above is that there is a possibility that the old disks wont boot.

Your thoughts?
Many thanks,
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Personally, I would not waste my time upgrading to ESXi 5.0 with Virtual Machines currently in place.

The first thing I would do, is

1. BACKUP Virtual Machines. Once you have a secure copy of the virtual machines.
2. Erase the Server, and all it's disks.
3. Insert new disks and create new RAID.
4. Install ESXi to new USB Flash drive or SD card.
5. Restore Virtual Machines.

Re-creating virtual servers and adding vmdks, is prone to error!

or if you are not going to use the old disks again, Backup VMs, turn off server remove disks.
(you also have another backup on the disks you have removed).

Insert new disks, recreated raid array, install ESXi on USB or Sd card.

Here is the VMware KB on installing 5.0 on USB/SD:

also make sure you download ESXi 5.0 from HP website

Adma1Author Commented:
Thanks for the response,

We do have an identical spare server which we have sitting here as a cold spare. We could use this one as the new server and backup the vmdks from existing server and replace onto this one. That way the existing server remains in tact and we can always revert back to this in case it doesn't work out? as we are avoiding the need to erase the server and will only need to perform steps 3 onwards from your list above, correct?

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
setup the new server, and then you could use my new EE Article to Live Migrate the VMs!

that's the quickest way, new server, new install, transfer the VMs!

No need for backup, restore or erase!

HOW TO: "Live Migrate" VMware Virtual Machines between ESX/ESXi hosts and/or datastores for FREE without licenses for vMotion or Storage vMotion
Adma1Author Commented:
Thanks Hanccocka,

I will your suggestion RE: Veema a go and let you know how I get on.

Adma1Author Commented:
Hi Hanccocka,

Sorry for all the dumb questions, just trying to make sure I am 100% before I try anything. I have read through your article, (very nicely present, good job) and just wanting to know do we only need to install one instance of Veeam on any 'one' of the 3 virtual servers we have? as the migration (from what I can tell) occurs from within the Vshpere, and all 3 servers will then be migrated accordinly?.

Thanks again.
Adma1Author Commented:
Hi Hanccocka,

I am just in the process of configuring Veeam ready for the live migration this wekend however I have run into an issue whilst attempting to "Add a server" into Veeam. Screen shot of error attached.

The error occurs when attempting to add a new server and then selecting VM ware VSphere.  

I managed to get into contact with our local Veeam represntative and he mentioned the following.

"Suggest to him to turn off the firewall on the backup server and see if it’s a port issue. I tried this to no avail.

Also ask him  is the a Virtual Centre or an ESX host that he’s logging on to. Also what happens if he tries to log on to the VC servers using a browser .. ( that uses port 443 )

So receive a 403 access denied error.

Any suggestions and tips you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again
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