For the past year, we have been upgrading our physial server to Virtual Machines. We have been using VMWare ESXi 5.0 for about 9 months now and it has been great so far.
Our use case is that we have about 10 VMs on a VM Host to build our product. Each VM has to have a "tools" drive - a 200 GB drive that has the different 3rd party tools we use: ex, all the different compilers or OS specific toolchains needed in our build process.
Previously, we had physical machines that mounted a NFS folder that stored all the compilers. We had terrible speeds - it would take about 3 hours to build something that should take 45 mins(which is how long it takes now).
Unfortunately, we are running out of disk space on our NAS since we have a 200 GB drive replicated 10 times. That is about 2 TBs of wasted space.
I was wondering if there was a way to have a single VMDK shared between the VMs. It doesn't have to be 1 VMDK for all 10 VMs. Even if it was a 1-2 mapping, that would be a great improvment over the 1-1 mapping we have now. It only has to serve up the tools for reading and executing the files, the VMs using it are not going to write to this VMDK.
Our current setup is as such: 2 Dell T-410 VM Hosts connected to a QNAP TS-879. The Dell hosts are connected to the QNAP's over a iSCSI adapter.
A VM has: 1 20 GB boot vmdk, 1 200 GB "tools" vmdk and 1 20 GB "storage" vmdk; the storage vmdk is on a SSD disk.
I have read a lot about possibly creating a read-only vmdk, a cluster of VMs or having a VM serve up the vmdk as a NFS mount [since we have already tried with NFS mount points and experienced a lot of time related pain, I am not too keen on going back to this method]. We want to preserver the performance we are getting with the 1-1 mapping of tools drive to VMs with the new approach.
What are my options here? Is it possible to create a single VMDK to share? Is NFS the only approach other than having 10, 200 GB VMDKs? Any suggestion/help is greatly appreciated.
I hope I have been able to outline our use case clearly. As a heads up, even though I have been working with VMWare for the past 9 months, I would still say I am fairly new to VMs and the IT side of things. So please bear with me if I ask a lot of follow up questions.