We have run out of diskstorage on the local diskstorage on our ESXi so before we do anything we would like to hear from you guys.
Our plans are as follows:
Replace existing 4x146 SAS disks with 4x300 GB SAS disks and then expand the RAID and then add a new datastore for the 2 virtual machines.
Buy a "cheap" NAS of some kind and use this as storage. Our concerns are just the availability and speed. Is it possible to have a solid working VM setup where virtual OS and VMFS disks are running on this NAS? (and what kind of NAS should we buy for this setup?)
Buy a new HP/ IBM server with a lot of storage and assign this as a new datastorage (fileshares etc.) and keep the existing 4x146 GB SAS disks for the virtual OS.
What do you think and as mentioned - what kind of NAS should we go for?
Current setup is
1 HP 380 G5 Host server
2x72 SAS Disks (ESXi installed)
4x146 SAS Disks (assigned to datastores including 2 virtual machines, virtual disks)
Virtual machines (Windows 2003 SBS and Windows 2003 Database-server)
With a single server you have no real reason to use external storage. A "cheap NAS" will not provide performance anywhere close to local storage. I don't know how much extra storage you need but you could install ESXi to a USB stick and replace the two 73 GB drives with 146GB and then rebuild the arrays. Since ESXi runs from RAM and there are very few writes (one per hour) USB is a very good option.
As stated "cheap" NAS will likely not have sufficient performance for production VMs. At my shop, the production VMs are on local storage for now until we get a SAN. In the interim, we use a Windows NAS (HP DL320 using Windows Storage Server) to store ISOs, and temporary or test VMs. (We have four ESX hosts so sharing the ISOs is a good use for the NAS.) Connection is primarily over NFS (although we do have the iSCSI option.) Performance is not bad, but still not as good as the local datastore. And this definitely wasn't a "cheap" NAS.
So most bang-for-you-bucks is with expanding local storage. However you may want to see how well a NAS would work for you. If you have a spare machine, (or something that you can temporarily use for a few days) then perhaps install something like Openfiler or FreeNAS on the spare machine. It would give you an approximate idea of whether a cheap NAS would be good enough for you. (IOW, if performance is horrible with the spare machine, then it probably will be bad with a "cheap" NAS as well.)
And I also agree with the USB suggestion. That would free up more drive bays for your datastores. For DR, just configure a second USB stick with ESX as a spare in case of failure of the primary USB stick. While not as ideal as RAID1, most people can handle the short downtime. I do this with one of my ESXi4 hosts at a small remote office that has single server with limited drive bays.
Thank you all. I think we will drop the idea with a NAS and wmware. We are going for another aproach then.
Move the 150 GB fileshare to a NAS (QNAP TS 809u RP) and use the leftover space solely for VM/ ESXi.
Your input was very helpfull.