How do I use a NAS in VMware for utilities?

VMware 6.5 environment with flash fiber channel storage.  We are decommissioning a disk based SAN, and instead, got a Windows 2012 R2 based NAS of about 100 TB.

I'm trying to figure out the best use of this device.  Should I create an NFS datastore?  Can I get my hosts access to the storage without using a datastore?

My major concern is that this Storage Server will have to be rebooted once a month during Microsoft patching, during which all of my hosts accessing it will have an APD situation during the reboot.

What is the best way to use it for:
VM Templates
VM archive drives (a Windows share, like an E: drive for the VM)
VMware Tools repository

I won't be running live VMs on the NAS.  I also won't be writing to the NAS during any reboots, as I will schedule it for a maintenance window.

Right now, all 40+ hosts are accessing it via an NFS share.  I'm not sure that's the best way to do it though.  What are best practices?  I kinda remember there was a folder for this stuff, but I don't know how to point that folder to another location.

Thanks for the help!

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
NFS will be fine, use it for isos, templates, archives.... you may want to enable Jumbo Frames to ensure faster access and transfer!

reboot as and when, NFS will re-connect when the NFS Export is available again!

it will not cause an issue like iSCSI does when the LUN disappears...

no iSCSI! do not use if!
svillardiAuthor Commented:

Thanks for the quick reply!  I work in healthcare and my hosts can't slow down during a reboot of my NAS.  How has APD changed in 6.5?  

Also, what do you think of a Windows share for my VMs?  If I reboot the NAS, will my VM reconnect to the \\NAS\share without having to reboot the VM as well?

Thanks again.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Your hosts slow down!!!???

not seen this issue. to be honest with you nothing should be taken down, unless there is planned down time for it, if it effects a Production environment, but if that is the case with your NAS, I would NOT use it at all with ESXi!

To be honest with you a Windows NAS is not certified for use with ESXi anyway!

What do you want to use a Windows Share for?

the hosts ?

ESXi cannot use a Windows Share.
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svillardiAuthor Commented:
All Paths Down scenarios cause a host to slow down as they try to connect to previously accessible storage.  This is the main concern of having storage unavailable during my NAS reboot.

My NAS is a Windows server.  I can do Windows shares and NFS shares from it.

VMware would have access to the NFS shares for ISOs, utilities, VMtools, etc
My Windows VMs would have access to the Windows (CIFS\SMB) shares for mapped drives.

You said that ESX will have no problem reconnecting to the NFS shares.
Will my Windows VM have to reboot to reconnect to the Windows shares for their mapped drives, or will they simply have access once the NAS comes back up?

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Do you have issues with All paths down and iSCSI ?

or NFS, or both ?

Windows shares are accessible when users log in, again shares will be available when the NAS is rebooted, the same with NFS.

You will not have to reboot Windows OS, if you reboot your NAS (WIndows Shares).

Although we have seen issues where Windows can poll for a share, untill it comes back online!
svillardiAuthor Commented:
Not running iSCSI.  Running FC now.  The NAS is new to us, so this is the first time we'll be using NFS.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
So what has been causing APD, when storage is unavailable?

is this FC Storage/LUNs unavailable ?

svillardiAuthor Commented:

We had APD down in the past with FC LUNs, so I'm aware that this CAN happen -- not that it is happening at this time.  

I want to make sure, before I use the new NAS, that I'm won't cause an APD host reaction during the patching reboot.  Since I'm new to 6.5, and new to NFS shares in vSphere, I'm trying to make sure I'm not going to cause a problem.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Okay, we have seen APD with FC and iSCSI when LUNs have not been removed properly with ESXi, this has always been present since version 2.0, and has still not been addressed by VMware.

The issue is ESXi polls the LUN, the LUN is not present, and it goes into a LOOP, if you check CPU Utilization, you will see your CPU goes sky high, as the LOOP continues... resulting in a slow down..... as the Host server effectively LOCKS UP!

again this happens to LUNs being polled.

We've not seen this behavior using NFS.

However using non certified equipment connected to ESXi servers in Production is a RISK you need to check!

We would NOT connect a Windows NFS Server to Production ESXi Servers.

and you mention these servers are in Healthcare, we would certainly not risk the connection of an unsupported Windows NFS Server to ESXI Healthcare hosts....which could result in patient treatment and care being affected.
svillardiAuthor Commented:
That's what I was afraid of.

Even for junk files required by the host?  Like ISOs, VMtools, etc?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
It's not what the content is, it's what is on the HCL.

Check the VMware Hardware Compatability Lists HCL here

The VMware Hardware Compatibility List is the detailed lists showing actual vendor devices that are either physically tested or are similar to the devices tested by VMware or VMware partners. Items on the list are tested with VMware products and are known to operate correctly.Devices which are not on the list may function, but will not be supported by VMware.

Check your current INVENTORY! against the HCL!

Is it ALL certified for 6.5!

Often those questions are for Management Higher up the Payscale, to assess (the risk!) are they willing to accept the risk, that YOUR INFRASTRUCTURE is all certified for use with 6.5, in the event you have an outage you can obtain support from VMware.

I would not want to be the VMware Consultant in my business that recommended a solution which was NOT on the HCL, which put peoples lives at risk!

(especially after being so thankful to the NHS (Healthcare in the UK), after a serious road traffic accident in January 2016, and needed to have various medical scans (which used computers!) - to be told, oh sorry computers down, because somebody connected some junk equipment to it....

So I would check the HCL for all your hosts and SANs, are they compatible with 6.5, if they are would you then add a piece of equipment which is not compatible...

if you current equipment is not on the current HCL, then you've got more questions to ask!!!

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svillardiAuthor Commented:
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, used as a NAS is not on the HCL.  I checked.

Back to the drawing board.

Thank you, Andrew for expanding on the topic.  Good stuff.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
no problems
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