Serve NFS and CIFS from your VMware Virtual SAN

I have seen the question of being able to serve NFS and CIFS storage from VMware Virtual SAN comes up often lately, as customers want to be able to serve files storage to their VMs for different reasons, below is couples of reasons I have heard often:

  • My applications requires file sharing via NFS or CIFS/SMB protocol.
  • I want to store my users documents in a centralized location in the data-center while still controlling access using AD permissions.

There is more reasons behind this, the idea is that this is being requested by different corporate for a reason or another. Unfortunately, the canned answer for this question is that VMware Virtual SAN does not offer this out of the box. While that statement is 100% accurate, I don’t think the answer should stop there, as there is many ways around this, that allows you to consume VMware Virtual SAN Storage as a file level storage using NFS and CIFS/SMB protocols. Let’s discover few of these.

Three different ways to Serve NFS and CIFS/SMB using VMware Virtual SAN:

1. Using NFS on a Linux Box and CIFS on a Windows Box  

While this is the least elegant way of the three, it is the most obvious route for many as they own these operating system licenses and they can just create a VM that is running on top of Virtual SAN and then mount enough storage from Virtual SAN to the VM which in turn you will configure the VM OS to serve CIFS or NFS.… Read More

Is VMware Virtual SAN Production Ready Yet?

Lately, one of the question that keep coming during any Software Define Data Center architecture session with my customers: “Is VMware VSAN ready for production environment?”. The short answer is: it depends, for a longer version explanation please keep reading.

Before I got into details of the answer to the question if VMware Virtual SAN is production ready or not, let’s give a bit of background of why this question keep raising up. Initially when VMware released the VSAN beta mid last year, the focus use cases was VDI, ROBO, & some Dev/Test. That is quite understandable for a beta released product, but as a lot of the literature of the beta days are still out there, many are confusing what the beta was able to deliver in comparison to what the GA version offer on the other hand.

Further, few VMworld sessions this year when the product went GA, did not update their use cases or shied from having a production use case as a part of the use cases showing on the slide. Below is an example of the slides showing VMware VSAN use cases while leaving production use cases out:

VMware VSAN use cases no production 1

Though not every presentation at VMworld  left the production use case of their slides, but if you only went to one VSAN session and that session left it out you left with the ideat it was not production ready.… Read More

Time to upgrade to StarWind Virtual SAN V8

While I was upgrading my Home lab to the latest vCloud Suite with all the new nice goodies that VMware has just released like vCAC 6.1, vSphere 5.5U2, vCenter 5.5U2, ESXi 5.5U2, vCenter Orchestrator 5.5U2 and so on. I was really excited about these new arrivals and rushing to do the upgrade, but I had some resource constrain in my home lab and it was about time to do some cleanup of all those machines that I have spawn when testing vCAC and vCO. VMware vCOPs was such a great tool to point out idle VMs and oversized VMs in the environment which has helped me extend the life of my home lab.

While  cleaning up and deleting unneeded VMs, I have came up across an interesting VM that at first glance seemed pretty idle on CPU & Mem respective while doing some good amount of I/O. The name of the VM did not remind me of anything, in fact the name was VT001(I know not the greatest name, but it seems to be the first VM in a lab environment). My first thought was it is a VM I have spawned by an old instance of vCAC and forgot to delete it, but I decided to look into the VM and see what is running inside of it & I am definitely  glad I did.… Read More

Free VMTurbo Datacenter Stencils for Microsoft Visio® and OmniGraffle

As a part of my consulting job, I end up using Visio to generate a lot of design diagrams (One of the reasons I had to format my MacBook Pro with Windows). For that reason I am always hungry for new Visio Stencils especially when they are specific to my field and being free. The latest addition to my Microsoft Visio Stencils is the just released VMTurbo Datacenter Stencils for Microsoft Visio® and if  OmniGraffle is your drawing software of choice then they are offering the same stencils for that too! Below is what included in the stencil and how it looks like in my Microsoft Visio.

VMTurbo Datacenter Stencils
Create diagrams of your datacenter using VMTurbo’s free datacenter stencils pack for Microsoft Visio® or for OmniGraffle. See your entire stack from a bird’s eye view to help better understand workflow.

Anyone can download them for free! Download it here!… Read More

What’s New in StarWind SAN V8

StarWind V8 RCStarWind SAN V8 RC has just been released with a lot of new features. Below is a summary of what to look for in this release:

Log-structured File System:

• VAAI UNMAP command implemented.
• Internal structures changed to ensure compatibility with upcoming updates.
• Improvements made for operations with VSS providers.


Flash cache:

• Optimizations and fixes for cache operation added.
• WB mode for L2 cache returned.


• Added VSS support for devices with synchronous replication.

NAS Configurator:

• NAS Configurator utility helps to export storage as SMB or NFS network share by means of StarWind High Availability and MS Cluster

VSA Builder:

• VSA Builder utility deploys StarWind VSA virtual machine on VMWare ESXi server.

V2V Converter:

• V2V Converter utility added to StarWind Management console. It is a V2V conversion tool for virtual machines.You can use it to convert VMDK to VHD files and VHD to VMDK as well as to IMG file, which is a native StarWind format.

Management console:
• Scale-out functionality extended: updates for device views and device tree.
• Fix for file naming: now wizard generates header file name and image file name for L2 cache storage according with device header file name.… Read More

EMC VPLEX – vSphere 5.1 Stretched Cluster Best Practices

The demand for across site VMotion and High Availability/Business continuity has shown an increase in the past year or so. I have started to see more customers implementing/considering such solution. I remember when VMware added support for vSphere stretched clusters about a year back, where only EMC VPLEX was on the Hardware Compatibility list. Actually EMC has done a massive amount of work with VMware to verify the solution and make sure it pickup. Guess what, it did not take long for other storage vendors to see how quickly vSphere Stretched Cluster is picking up & now both NetApp & IBM have a configuration that is supported in a stretched cluster configuration.

In this post I will be discussing many of the best practices that you want to follow when building a vSphere Stretched Cluster. While many of these recommendation are generic and apply to most vSphere 5.1 Stretched Clusters, I have only validated them in an EMC VPLEX environment. Please make sure you check with your storage vendor before applying those recommendations to a different environment.

Before starting to implement a vSphere Stretched Cluster, you would want to understand how it work and what enable it. What you are trying to achieve in here is to enable VMware HA & VMware VMotion to work across sites.… Read More

Free StarWind iSCSI SAN Training/Webinar

StarWind has asked me if I can share this info about their upcoming free Free StarWind iSCSI SAN Training/Webinar titled “Your Way to Complete Storage Redundancy!”. I thought as many of you will be looking at creating your own virtual storage for home lab or even at work you might want to look at their Webinar as it seems to be covering how to do it step-by-step. StarWind Virtual storage is actually one of the two virtual storage types I have at my home lab & it work quite well that make me believe SMB can turn an old server into a powerful virtual storage as long it has the sufficient disk capacity and speed to deliver up to the customer need. Below are the full details of this Webinar which it seems to me will be more of a free training than just a webinar as per the session explanation. I mean if it cover a step-by-step on how to do it, I would call it training!! I thought I will share  it as free training is always good to share.

StarWind iSCSI SAN
Your Way to Complete Storage Redundancy!

Live webinar on Thursday, December 15
4:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST

Join Anatoly Vilchinsky as he demonstrates simple step-by-step instructions for building your own SAN or centralized, networked storage by using standard off-the-shelf x86 hardware or even a repurposed server running Windows.… Read More