Virtualising file servers
Posted on 2013-02-04
We're joining the virtual party a little late and we have a couple of questions regarding file servers. This question is a general question rather than one aimed at Microsoft or VMware. I'd actually appreciate answers from both sides of the fence (I appreciate other virtualisers are available!)
Also worth noting that we are a systems integrator aimed at the small businesses. Our largest site is around 45 users. Most sites are 5 - 10 users and they generally do not have the cash to buy thousands of pounds worth of software. We're trying to see if its worth us trying to offer the main benefits of virtualised servers to our customers without costing them a small fortune. Most of our sites will only have a single Microsoft SBS type server.
Firstly, I absolutely see the point of virtualising application servers and servers with a small physical footprint. We already have a couple of VM'd RDS servers on customer sites and we're soon to install another, It's file servers that we're having problems getting our heads around...
As I understand it, half the point of having a virtual server is that we can make regular offline images that can be restored to dissimilar hardware extremely quickly. This sounds good for us and our customers. However, in the case of a file server that may have 500GB or more of stored data, we wouldnt be able to quickly create images. Storage would also be an issue. We could use 3TB USB drives but surely there must be a better way to achieve this?
Does Hyper-V or VMWare have any facility to mount file storage onto the file server that isnt included in the main VM image? Or am I missing some important part of all of this? Is there a way to exclude data areas from an image backup perhaps?
Lastly, and of much lesser importance, how would you manage RAID software? From what I can tell, it becomes difficult to view & manage the RAID when you have ESXi or Hyper-V core installed as this management software cannot be installed on the hyperviser.
Thanks in advance