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vmWARE ESXi 4.1 and VM migration question

Posted on 2013-05-20
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Last Modified: 2013-05-24
I had a question about the free version of ESXi 4.1 and using Veeam Backup. The backups take a long time. Is the only way to speed up the backup is to get the paid version of ESX? Also, can i use Veeam to migrate ESXi VM's from one server running ESXi to another server running ESXi? Is here anyway to setup ESXi to share datastores on another server so there is some redundancy?
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Question by:tjguy
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by:choward16980
choward16980 earned 250 total points
ID: 39182775
To answer this question:

"Is there anyway to setup ESXi to share datastores on another server so there is some redundancy?"

Yes, create an iSCSI datastore between the two hosts.

http://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-free

Both hosts will connect to the iSCSI drive and you can mount or copy back n forth from one datastore to another.

For a faster, more robust iSCSI solution, take a look at FreeNAS or OPENFILER.
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by:choward16980
choward16980 earned 250 total points
ID: 39182783
The real answer would be to build a point-2-point Fibre channel SAN between the two hosts.  This would offer a centralized datastore and speeds of 4-8Gb/s on transfer (depending on your storage subsystem's transfer speed).  If you're interested in something like this, I can point you in the right (super cheap) direction.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 125 total points
ID: 39183478
with the free version of ESXi you are limited in what you can do, because you do not have access to the Licensed APIs.

see my EE Article

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

I would recommend spedning $500 on VMware vSphere Essentials, which will unlock the API< and you will have a licensed version of ESXi.
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rafael_acc earned 125 total points
ID: 39184062
tjguy, it depends how much money you could allocate to extra hardware/licenses.

You could for instance have a ESXi cluster which makes things a lot easier - you could get then extra features such as vmotion, DRS, storage vmotion, etc. For that to happen, you don't even need to pay for licenses as long as you give yourself 60 days for the migration. And who knows ... maybe you actually get to love it and pay for full/patial licenses.

To have a cluster in place, top of my head you need the following:

1. Minimum 2 GB RAM on each ESXi host (6 GB recommendable to have access to all features)
2. Minium dual-core or 2x CPUs running at least 2 Ghz
3. They need to run on 64 bits platform
4. You need shared storage - temporary, you could get away with a old PC running openfiler; eventually, you could invest into a good NAS solution such as Synology. If your pockets are deep, go for a professional NAS solution - I wouldn't go for Fiber-Channel to be honest but who knows.... maybe your business does require that kind of performance/cost.
5. You will also need an extra server to run vCenter Server which is used to manage the ESXi hosts; through vCenter Server you also get some features enabled, such as vMotion, DRS, clustering, etc... You could also monitor ESXi hosts via the vSphere Client application - but then you loose a lot of benefits.

The vCenter Server has got few requirements as well - it must run on 64bits, requires 4 GB of RAM (if I remember this corectly), arround 50 GB HDD, Windows OS.

Hope this helps you.

Cheers
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by:tjguy
ID: 39185151
rafeal_acc, this is sounding like iSCSI might not be a good solution for a database and fiberchannel is the way to go? If i segment the iSCSI on a pair of it's own switches would that be a step in the right direction? Do not have the $$ in the budget for fiber Channel.
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by:rafael_acc
ID: 39185230
iSCSI is not actually that good in general; it's far less scalable in comparison to NFS for example; in regards to performance, it depends on the hardware used - given the same hardware, both are pretty much the same!

Another good option is Fiber Channel - but you gotta have (1) deep pockets; (2) expertise in setting up and maintaining it; (3) extra hardware needed

However, if you are using you storage for DB access - depending on what sort of stress your DB app is putting on the storage, I'd say Fiber - Channel is best!

To be honest, I'm confused since initially, you did not mention much in regards to what are you going to backup! On your last post you have mentioned database access - i don't consider DB access the same as access for backing up - the stress level on the platform is going to be different; very different!

Yet, to answer your question (as per last post), regardless what you are backing up, if your priority is performance, then invest now for the future! If $$ is short, then you may be compromised (sorry!); or you may be not - again, depends on what you are trying to do as well as hardware.

Just one more note: you can have good disks, good chassis with good CPU, good memory , etc... if your switches are crap, performance will take a hit as well!

Another example: many people set up jumbo frames and they dont' see an improvement! but they forget jumbo-frames travel at Layer2 (which is why they are called "frames") - jumbo frames must be enabled end-to-end on every single hop along the path!
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Fibre Channel maybe regarded as the Roll Royce of storage, but iSCSI is very cabapable even over 1GB, and 10GB even better!

NFS versus iSCSI we could debate for years!
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by:rafael_acc
ID: 39185272
we could I guess ... let's not though! You win!
;)
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by:tjguy
ID: 39195306
thanks for all your comments, it has pointed me in the correct direction I need to go. I will be using a segmented 10 g between 2 switches.
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