Current situation:

Windows server 2008r2 running under VMWare esxi5.5.
3TB drive consisting of 3x 1TB virtual disks under a spanned volume. (D)
The drive contains approx 1,9TB of data.
D drive hosts 30+ SQL Server database files.
Several other instances are hosted on different drives.

We want to move this 3TB drive to a new server.
The new server will have the same OS version and SQL-server version.
It will however have more resources, and be completely dedicated to this one SQL-server instance.

What we're considering:

  1. Moving the spanned volume to the other server.
    This would involve detaching the volume from the current server, and attaching it on the new server. We've done this on the staging setup, however that setup did not have a spanned volume, and information on moving spanned volumes across vm's is sparse.

  2. Copying everything from the spanned volume to a new, not spanned, volume, and moving that disk to the new server.
    This has the advantage of not having to move the spanned volumes.
    However copying all the data will take a long time, and will mean a long er maintenance window.

The problem:

Our staging environment does not have spanned disks, it has one single volume (1.99TB, as the staging is only 1TB large).
I can't replicate the move with anything of equal size, without spending a lot of time and resources recreating the current setup.

I'm looking for either any kind of documentation that shows that moving a spanned disk from one VM to another will correctly recognize them as being a foreign disk group.
So far I've only found this article.

Or better yet, a cleaner solution for moving the databases across servers.
Would it be safe to replicate this without the 3TB disks, simply with 250GBx3 disks in a spanned volume? Or can I expect additional issues with the larger disks that simply can't be tested without increasing the size over 2TB (the single volume max size).

  • 1
    ESXi 5.4??? 3 x 1TB is that in RAID 0 – Chopper3 Jan 21 '15 at 15:39
  • I'm assuming that the 3x1TB volumes are virtual disks created from an underlying LUN with proper redundancy. Well, hoping. Praying. – Hyppy Jan 21 '15 at 15:42
  • @Hyppy Correct, I'm not the person in charge of the storage, but I do know they are created from an underlying LUN, and the SAN has 6TB of storage dedicated to this machine. – Reaces Jan 21 '15 at 15:45
  • @Chopper3 Updated the question to help with the confusion about the disks being "Physical". They are actually virtual disks allocated to this machine, and spanned across one dynamic volume. – Reaces Jan 21 '15 at 15:48
  • @Chopper3 Apparently the 5.4 was a typo in one of the first emails that stayed in circulation throughout the project... Not being involved that heavily with the VMware side of things I did not catch it. I updated the question with the proper version (5.5) my apologies. – Reaces Jan 21 '15 at 15:52

It should work, for various values of "should" and "work".

The basic steps (more detail available in this Technet article):

  • For some reason, it says to uninstall the disks in Device Manager first. That strikes me as odd, but hey it's Microsoft.
  • In Disk Management, right click and "Remove Disk" the drives from the first server.
  • In VMware, detach them and attach them to the new server.
  • Once all the disks are attached and recognized by the new server, right click them and select "Import Foreign Disk".
  • Windows should recognize the span and allow access to it.

That said, I highly recommend having A) a good backup and B) a fully tested process. Just create a new 5x1GB span or something and give it a shot between the two servers. It should give you an idea of any pitfalls or errors you might see.

  • Would the size of the volumes cause any additional complications? Mostly I'm concerned about the 2TB threshold being crossed, this threshold has come up in several conversations regarding the viability of moving the disks. – Reaces Jan 21 '15 at 15:55
  • Which 2TB threshold are you speaking of? MBR, NTFS 512B clusters, pre-LBA64 SCSI commands, VMware? If it's working on the current server, what new limitations are there on the new one? – Hyppy Jan 21 '15 at 16:00
  • Vmware. The single virtual disk max size for vmfs-3. – Reaces Jan 21 '15 at 16:02
  • But you're moving 3x 1TB disks. – Hyppy Jan 21 '15 at 16:04
  • 1
    Microsoft also doesn't have documentation that specifically allows people named Fred to log onto desktop computers if they haven't engaged in sexual intercourse for the last 72.5 hours. – Hyppy Jan 22 '15 at 15:31

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