We've got VMware as our enterprise VM solution using a SAN but we're looking into the possibility of using virtualisation in-branch. This might mean ESX or Hyper-V. As I understand it, to be able to do failover with either host, you need shared storage. What are our options, given a pair of host servers? Particularly, at the cheaper end of the scale.


LeftHand Networks Virtual SAN Appliance is one route you can take. If I recall correctly they support up to 2TB of storage. Basically you set up local volumes, present them to the VSA and it will give you a virtualized iSCSI SAN. It's a bit of a hack but it does work.

Some of the "cheaper" entry level SAN type kit from Dell would be the MD3000i & the Equallogic PS4000 series but you're generally looking at the wrong side of $10k or more for those. Alternatively there are some pretty good cheap NAS boxes that are definitely good enough for small scale Branch office VMware type setups that could be a viable alternative but remember that you are planning to depend on this stuff so opting for a real entry level NAS would be a very bad idea. I would not personally build my own whitebox SAN although you probably can build a fairly decent high performance storage server these days for a couple of grand. The problem is that you will be the only person who will be willing to support it and that's really not worth it in the long term.


NFS and iSCSI are free and quite easy to set up.

NFS Storage setup and configuration on Windows 2003 Server:

This will require Windows 2003 R2 setup disks 1 and 2.

  1. Install Windows 2003 Server from disk 1.

  2. Insert the second disk and click on "Continue Windows Server 2003 R2 Setup" in the autostart menu.

Now to add "Microsoft Services for NFS" component:

Click Start -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs

Click on "Add/Remove Windows Components"

In the "Windows Components Wizard" window click on "Other Network File and Print Services" and press the "Details" button

In the "Other Network File and Print Services" click on "Microsoft Services for NFS" and press the "Details" button

In the "Microsoft Services for NFS" window mark all entries, ("Client for NFS" can be skipped) and press "ОК"

Click "OK" aga in the "Other Network File and Print Services" window

In the "Windows Components Wizard" window click "Next"

Component installation process should begin

Sharing the NFS storage:

Create a direcfory on the Windows system.

Rightclick the directory, and click "Properties"

Open the "Security" tab, and click on "Add"

Enter user and group

Click on "Check Names"

The system will verify it has found the user and the group, if not, check for a typo.

Press "OK"

You should be back at the previous window, where you have to click on the user and the group in the top list, and click on Allow -> "Modify" for both.

Click "Apply"

Open the "NFS Sharing" tab

Click on "Share this folder", and type in a share name below. Example: "win-nfs"

Click on the "Permissions" button

Here you can either pick ALL MACHINES, or use the "Add" button to enter IP addresses of the allowed hosts. Give the hosts (or all machines) Read-Write permissions and click "OK"

Click "Apply" and "OK". The NFS share is ready to be used.

iSCSI Target setup:

This will require:

Windows Server 2003 R2 disk1 and disk2

"Microsoft iSCSI Software Target and Management.iso" (downloadable from http://microsoft.download-ss.com/, after free registration)

Install Windows 2003 from disk 1

Then from the AutoRun menu pick "Install optional Windows Components"

Click on "Management and Monitoring Tools" -> "Details" -> "Storage Manager for SANs" and Install. Disk 2 will be asked for.

Download and unpack "Microsoft iSCSI Software Target and Management.iso" (WinRAR freely available from rarlab.com can be used)

Open the "iSCSI Target" directory and install the following files:

*      iscsitargetVDS-x86-3412.exe 
*      iscsitarget90-x86-3412.exe
*      iSCSISoftwareTarget-KB943518-x86-ENU.exe

Click on Start -> All Programs -> Administrative Tools -> Storage Manager for SANs

Click on LUN Management, and wait for the VDS Hardware provider to load up

In the "Manage Server Connections" you can enter the names of the hosts allowed to connect to the target

In the "Manage iSCSI Targets" menu, create a tgarget with an assigned name

Click on "Create LUN" - attach the target created previously, and the allowed hosts.

  • I believe you can only install the iSCSI target software on embedded systems or the Storage Server series of Windows. – Joshua Oct 13 '09 at 14:05
  • I've tested this on windows server 2003 R2 std and ent editions - everything works. not something very well performing, but good enough for a demo run or a PoC – dyasny Oct 13 '09 at 20:42

This is an excellent demo of the Hyper-V server product (free) setup using Netapp NFS as shared storage. During the video Matt gives a lot of excellent advice and background on how to get a cheap HA virtualization environment working. Well worth your time!

The vid is at http://edge.technet.com/Media/Hyper-V-Server-2008-R2-Bare-Metal-to-Live-Migration-In-about-an-hour/


The cheapest of the cheap ways would be to take an old PC or server and run FreeNAS or Openfiler on it, and present the internal storage as an iSCSI or NFS share.

However, I'm going to assume since you're a company not a home user you do want something which will last a few years.

There's really only 1 NAS storage company totally buying into virtualisation, and that's Iomega, a division of EMC who owns a large chunk of VMware. They make the Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d NAS server which runs iSCSI and NFS, and is certified by VMware to run shared storage for their systems. Price is around $1000 for 1TB of usable storage.

Whether it will give enough performance and reliability for your sites, I can't really say without knowing quite a bit more about your requirements.


I was looking for answers on NFS with Hyper V.

For VMware there are lots of cheap solutions, especially for NFS. NetGear, QNAP, Synology and Drobo all make "Certified" NFS/iSCSI devices for VMware. They all have very good detailed documentation about connecting their devices to VMware.

The first three make good 4 bay devices at around $600 + with out drives. All of them have 1-2 GIGE connections and all of them have enough CPU/RAM to drive those GIGE connections at 70+MB. Throw in 4 - 2TB SATA drives and you have 6TB of RAID 5 disk space. All of those devices support multiple RAID options.

Connecting ESXi to NFS is super easy.

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