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Shared storage (datastores) between 2 ESXi Hosts

Shared storage (datastores) between 2 ESXi Hosts

(OP)
Hi,

Knowing the limited nature of ESXi (yeah I understand security, blahblahblah), is there a way ether through NFS or iSCSI between two ESXi hosts? The theoretical setup is one ESXi to be a backup server to another ESXi that would be the main machine and it would back up virtual servers. Right now that latter machine has no hard drives and I've tried doing FreeNAS and other lame file server systems with bad results. I think for me it would be easier if the two machines were ESXi and a iSCSI link, since I had better luck implementing that. Oh, and I am no friend to CLIs, can this also be done with limited intrusion through that dreaded SSH client?

Thanks

Simple rules to communicate
I come with a Telephony background. IP networking can be complicated. Please be nice to me, don't reply with interrogations as I go defensive. Read the original question first. Do not make me look like an idiot. Trust that I'm trying to do the right thing. Thanks

RE: Shared storage (datastores) between 2 ESXi Hosts

(OP)
BTW hardware is a ProLiant DL320 G4 with 2 SATAa running ESXi 41 and a DL360 G5 with option for SAS (the one without hard drives at the moment) running 5.1

Simple rules to communicate
I come with a Telephony background. IP networking can be complicated. Please be nice to me, don't reply with interrogations as I go defensive. Read the original question first. Do not make me look like an idiot. Trust that I'm trying to do the right thing. Thanks

RE: Shared storage (datastores) between 2 ESXi Hosts

The goal is shared storage with out the use of a SAN of some kind. The solution from VMWare is vSAN, but you would need to upgrade to use it. The solution in a 4.x environment was VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance), but even folks in the dev team for that product will acknowledge how awful that product is (it works, it just a HUGE pain to deal with, and you can't implement it in an existing cluster with running VMs, must be new). These products do want you to pack your servers up with storage, and if you use them I would highly suggest you setup your ESXi hosts to boot from either a USB stick or an SD card. It will let you use all available storage for datastores instead of loosing 700MB to the ESXi system files. What these virtual SAN products do (vSAN for 5, VSA or 4) is they create a mirrore between hosts.

With VSA it is pretty much just mirrored datastores between hosts. Say you have 1TB of disk space in each host, this could give you two 500GB datastores. Host one would be master of one 500GB datastore, and host two would hold a mirror of host1's datastore. Then vice versa for the second datastore. When there is a failure in a host, the second host would then service the guest machines on the failed servers datastore using the mirror copy it holds.

With vSAN, a much better yet more expensive solution, you need SSD as well as spinning disks in the hosts. It doesn't work exactly like VSA does because it does not mirror entire datastores. It mirrors VM's between local datastores on the clusters hosts. Much faster performance.

The only time I have used these products my self is when the customer asks for it directly because they want to avoid buying a SAN. Going this route does save some money, but not much. And other than not wanting to buy a SAN because of cost or space or available power, I can't give you a very good use case to go with these products.

I would highly suggest looking into a SAN of any kind. You can use OpenFiler on a physical box to make your self a whitebox SAN using off the shelf parts. I haven't used FreeNAS before, so I can speak for that product, but OpenFiler will do just about everything you want in a simple SAN. iSCSI and NFS protocols are both supported to allow you to share storage between ESXi hosts on that medium.

You are due for an upgrade, and that would also be something to look at. 5.5 is the current version, and I am quite sure those servers are over 5 years old and out of warranty. If you can talk the powers that be into investing in their company and keeping it current, then upgrade your hosts to current hardware. Upgrade your vSphere license to 5.5, and I would think Essentials is all you need. At the same time, look into a SAN. There are many inexpensive solutions out there that add huge amounts of value to a vSphere cluster. On of the better inexpensive onse I have seen customers buy has been Coraid (though it is ATA Over Ethernet, not NFS or iSCSI). Another I like to use that is not too expensive would be Drobo.

Brent Schmidt [color red]Keep IT Simple[/color red]
SeƱor Network Engineer http://www.kiscc.com

RE: Shared storage (datastores) between 2 ESXi Hosts

(OP)
Thank you very much.  

RE: Shared storage (datastores) between 2 ESXi Hosts

I've used the built-in NAS client in Windows Server 2012 for shared storage between ESXi hosts. You just need to configure hosts to access the NAS server using VMkernel ports. Here you have the configuration explained:

http://vmware-esxi.com/configure-an-nfs-datastore/

RE: Shared storage (datastores) between 2 ESXi Hosts

NAS server, not NAS client, sorry.

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