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I've been tasked with finding alternatives for storage VDIs and other underlying data in our Xen virtual machines. We currently use a NetApp filer cluster, but with the heads going EOL in December there's reluctance to continue to spend on NetApp. I'm told lots of people are doing all sorts of things with distributed storage underneath Xen, but I'm having trouble finding actual references or documentation.

This is VDIs for ~350 machines, averaging 6G per machine so its not giant but I can't get by with pooling the internal 36G drives my blades came with.

Can anybody tell me how they're doing Xen in a distributed storage environment, or point me at resources you used to set your environment up? Or am I being sent on a fool's errand and I should be instead justifying a NetApp or similar solution to my boss?

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How many Dom0s are you talking about? Are your DomUs IO intensive on the storage side? –  Nils Jul 28 '12 at 21:01
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4 Answers

They're not using blades, I'd guess. Rackmount servers have a lot more volume for fitting hard drives into.

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Right. I just dropped the idea to use blades instead of my rack-mounted Dom0s. Storage blades would be an alternative - but too expensive compared to rack-mounted servers (TCO). –  Nils Jul 28 '12 at 21:10
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It depends.

You could stop using blades and go for rack-mounted servers with lots of internal disks (SAS). It should be easy to provide local storage with more that 4 TB per server.

If you can build Dom0 cluster-pairs you can go for 2n-redundancy and use DRBD.

If you can afford it (propably not, since NAS seems too expensive) - use SAN.

Or build your own HA-NAS-device (iSCSI or NFSv4) with your preferred OS (again with local storage).

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We use Citrix Provisioning Server for this purpose. It only really helps you if your VDI's are read-only though.

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How does it provide HA-storage? –  Nils Jul 30 '12 at 19:24
    
@Nils Generally with multiple provisioning servers, though Citrix are now saying that in some circumstances you can even virtualise them so that obviously brings its own set of HA. As I say, I'm coming primarily from a read-only model which makes it far easier. –  Dan Jul 31 '12 at 17:40
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I haven't used it but http://www.gluster.org/ is a distributed file system which can apparently be used with Xen (either rolling your own or through their 'storage appliance').

Although I honestly can't tell if you can download the 'bare metal' gluster storage appliance ISO someplace or if you have to purchase the 'Red Hat Storage Appliance'. Just the way Red Hat marketing likes it.

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