Virtualization Pro

May 23 2008   5:09PM GMT

Adding a remote datastore to VMware Server 2.0 beta

Rick Vanover Rick Vanover Profile: Rick Vanover

I have been evaluating the VMware Server 2.0 beta on Windows and CentOS Linux systems since the release in November of 2007. The second beta of Server 2.0 was released in March, and both versions support adding remote datastores for guest virtual machines. Adding datastores can be a great way to store your lesser priority virtual machines without immense storage requirements on your VMware server system.

I have used the 1.0x version of VMware Server for years in testing and development systems. With version 2.0, I have started to use remote datastores for storing test systems. Datastores are storage locales in VMware Server 2.0. You can add NFS datastores for Linux-based installations of VMware Server. The Microsoft networking server message block (SMB) is available for Windows versions.

From a performance and configuration perspective, a non-local datastore is not ideal for live production systems. For situations like mine where a large number of infrequently used virtual machines are used from VMware server, a remote slower-speed disk suits the need very well. This storage configuration may also be good for archival of certain virtual machines, such as a project build that has gone into support mode.

In my example, I used a network attached storage (NAS) device, which can provide some of the cheapest storage available. NAS default configurations usually provide Windows file and print as a native file-serving option. Adding datastores from the “add datastore” command in the web interface after the initial installation is straightforward:

Datastore Addition

Once this is done, a virtual machine can be added to the local inventory. When virtual machines run from a remote datastore, the disk I/O is executed on the remote system. Adding a remote datastore also puts the CPU, network and memory functions on the host locally. There is definitely a performance hit from this configuration. But for archival purposes, you can free up more capable storage for your most frequently used virtual machines.

Administrators should also note that the virtual machines must be updated before being visible in 2.0 from a remote datastore before you make a remote datastore for all of your existing servers running VMware Server 1.0x from your VMware Server 2.0 beta system. Once updated to virtual machine version 6.0, the 1.0x systems cannot use the guest virtual machines without being upgraded to VMware Server 2.0.

The following section illustrates how to add a virtual machine to the inventory after upgrading:

Datastore Addition

This can save time by possibly eliminating the need to copy large virtual machine files back and forth over your network.

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