3 Replies Latest reply on Apr 11, 2013 6:17 PM by suhaimim

    Building a NFS server for 2 ESXI servers

    metindagci Lurker

      Experience:  Junior vMware user. Normal level linux and microsoft system administrator.


      I want to do:  for High Availabiltiy build 1 NFS SERVER  for 2 esxi servers
      Budget: as possible using available hardware  and using the opensource.
      Why NFS: I think SAN  is very expensive.


      Required  Virtual Machines:

      • 6 x Microsoft Server 2008
      • 5 x Windows 7 Pro
      • 5 x Elastix Voip
      • 2 x Web hosting


      Available hardware: 

      2 x 1U Poweredge R610 for ESXI 5.1 server ( 8 x Gbit Nic)


      • 2 x Xeon E5640 CPU
      • 96 GB DDR3 Memory
      • Onboard        4 x 1 Gbit Nic
      • 1 Pci-E  Intel  4 x  1 Gbit Nic
      • 16 GB SD mermoy card for ESXI boot


      1 x 2U Supermicro X7DB8 server for NFS server  ( 8 x Gbit Nic)


      • 2 x Xeon E5420
      • 48 GB memory
      • 1 x Hardware raid SATA/SAS controller  (LSI 3ware 9750)
      • 8 x 3.5” 2 TB SATA disks
      • 4 X 2.5” 256 gb SSD direct attached on mainbord (no raid)
      • Onboard 2 x 1 Gbit Nic
      • 1 Pci-e Intel   2 x 1 Gbit Nic 
      • 1 Pci-e Intel  4 x  1 Gbit Nic 
      • 16 GB SD mermoy card for OS boot





      • How need I connect NIC’s for NFS connection?
      • I have not so much experience with NFS. Can you explain to me, for a stable and good connection which network hardware I need?
        • What should minimum network connection between esxi and nfs server for 20 virtual machines?
        • Can i use Network Teaming? to get 2 or more Gbit connection?


      • My idea is on each ESXI servers create a new vSwitch  and add minimal 2x Nic tot his vSwitch and this 2 Nic’s connect with Cross-over netwrok cables directly to the NFS server. I don’t know how, but i need advice like Network Teaming option etc. Can you please give me more advice about this.
      • Which software can I better use on the NFS server? Openfiler or FreeNAS or something else please your advises.
      • What you think about hardware of NFS server? Supermicro X7DB8 enough?


      Thanks in advance

        • 1. Re: Building a NFS server for 2 ESXI servers
          suhaimim Enthusiast

          Nice information before throwing the question.



          NFS server is purposely for VM storage. For version earlier than 4.2, storage size limited to less than 2TB.

          However, version 5.0 and above expandable over than 2GB. But somehow, the re-connection will be delaying and might become time out.

          Especially during storage vmotion. This testimonial has been tested on 1GB FastEthernet LAN. It might be fine with iSCSI or any >2GB

          Ethernet LAN. Cost implementation must calculate for at least 3 to 5 years ROI.Otherwise, considering Fiber Connection for long term use is more better.



          1. To connect ESX to NFS server using FastEthernet Port

          • Add additional hardware (network switch) in between ESX host and NFS server
          • Or, directly connect from end to end host to server but require extra port and configuration
          • Once ESX host boot up (but not boot from NFS, it will is use local disk) and ready to access via root,
          • assign IP address to the port connecting from ESX host and to port connecting to NFS server
          • each NFS server configuration is slightly different depend on server OS/controller
          • configuration on ESX host can be done by command line or by GUI via vSphere Client at configuration tab > storage  adapter (to scan/detect the connection) > storage (to assign LUN)
          • the rest you may familiar with the GUI later on (user friendly)


          2. Stable and good connection is depend on your environment, it may vary.

          (refer notes above for Best Practice - this is not VMWARE.COM environment)

          For my case, I have 3 ESXi hosts, 2 SANs fabric and 3 NFS servers with 30 VMs.And network teaming is alwasys recommended to get extra pipe


          3. As mention in notes above, extra configuration and ports required if you are connecting the ESX host and NFS server directly.

          (not recommended because network is main backbone of VM environment, once it stuck, you'll be jammed)


          4. Also mentioned in #1., software or OS or controller is depend on your storage. It may provide their own or pre-installed with Microsoft Windows Storage OS. If you are using the open sources type, you may require more information and sometimes the features to manage the storage is too limited.

          Therefore, consult with you storage vendor on this matter.


          5. If you really want to save cost without considering furture expansion etc, all you have is quite OK. It just need more job, skills and know-how to manage and administer the things.


          Wish you luck!

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Building a NFS server for 2 ESXI servers
            metindagci Lurker

            Suhaimim; thank you very much for your powerful answer  Now I'm thinking that minimal 1 SAN server is a must have and NFS server is additional for backup or testing. SAN like more stable, reliable and give faster i/o performance.


            I never used SAN servers. Please help me.

            I think I need the following hardware;
            1 SAN server
            1 SAN SWITCH.  (or direct connection between ESXI and SAN)
            and for each ESXi server san???? Connection card. (is this normal FIBER ethernet?)


            Can you please give an example hardware.
            I understand that you NOT responsible for this advice. I need just more ideas.  Because I have no idea about connection between ESXi and SAN server.  If you give me some example hardware than I can understand.