Good or bad idea? Running WHS 2011 inside virtual box of SE11 to utilize zfs.

kurtkurtosis

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Jan 1, 2011
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I am currently running WHS 2011 using RAID 5 (RocketRAID 2720) with 5 Samsung (204s) 2TB drives without issues for the past 3 months. I am backing up WHS shares to another PC running Solaris Express 11 with 6 disks in RAIDZ2.

The SE11 box is fairly powerfull as it uses the SuperMicro Micro-ATX X9SCM-F with 16 GB of ECC memory which is overkill as a backup solution (although I also use the box to get ot know various LINUX distros) while the WHS 2011 box is an Intel mini-itx DH57JG with 8GB of memory (also overkill but doesn't hurt).

To make a long strory short. I am very impressed with the ZFZ filesystem & its snapshot capabilities which is far more robust than the windows NTFS files, e.g. no chkdsk needed & encryption built in, for example. Whether that really matters in the real works for a home system I am not sure but that is not that important right now.

What I am interested in is combing the best of both worlds. WHS2011 is hard to beat to backup WIN PCs while ZFS seems to be the most advanced and robust file system. Especially, the X9S mobo is underutilized given its hardware capabilities. Also, I would like to use the DH57JG as a HTPC and backup machine, but it is now running 24 hrs a day.

So what I like to do is to combine WHS2011 with SE11 into a single server. I would use the SuperMicro box with 16 GB memory to run SE11 with WHS2011 as VM. WHS would use two separates ZFS pools. One to back up WHS2011 to pool1 the other pool2 would contain all the WHS shares.

Q 1: Is this a good idea and if so what got-chas are there to think about?
Q 2: Are there better solutions? I suppose one could run SE 11 as a VM on top of WHS2011...

Thanks, Kurt.
 

gea

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Dec 31, 2010
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lets begin with Q2
Running a virtualized NAS on top of Win is a bad idea.
You will loose NAS performance and ZFS control of disks

Your Q1
You want to have with your X9 board:

- a NAS for backups
- a virtualization base for Linux
- a virtualization base for WHS

you may want to replace WHS as a filer with Solaris or free OpenIndiana
(Solaris can replace a Windows SMB filer nearly perfect with access to ZFS snaps via previous version)

While i expect KVM on OpenIndiana to be a perfect solution in future, you can now use virtualbox on top of Solaris. This is ok if you mainly need Solaris and want to try other systems with reduced performance.

If you want to have them all with best performance, you now need a type-1 barebone virtualizer like ESXi with direct disc access for your NAS-VM.

read my miniHowto setup such a box at
http://www.napp-it.org/doc/downloads/all-in-one.pdf

Its all free. You only need a second LSI HBA disc controller in your X9 box
 
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kurtkurtosis

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Jan 1, 2011
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Gea, appreciate the advice/explanation & link to your useful ESXi tutorial.

I was aware and it was within my plans to check out NAPP-IT but after I had acquired a certain level of competence to setup SE11 through the command line since these represent uncharted water to me. I am getting close to that goal. I should probably explore NAPP-IT before ESXi, I am thinking. I installed OI a couple of months ago and came to the conclusion there is nothing to learn that I couldn't learn with SE11 as I didn't see any difference between the OPs, although I wanted to explore encryption which is not available at this time with OI.

The only WHS2011 capability that I think is useful and unique is the capability to back up windows PC and easily restore (disk imaging). Shadow copying can be done as well or better through ZFS snapshots.

However I am a big believer in disk imaging for the purpose of restoring the operating system to a previous restore point. I am sort of familiar on how to do that with SE11 and snapshots but haven't done it because SE11 is very easy to setup and for the poolsetup I have a script that I can easily copy and run.

Q: How do you image or take snapshots of an ESXi system, e.g. to be stored on the Intel mini-itx in this case?
 

gea

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Dec 31, 2010
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The only WHS2011 capability that I think is useful and unique is the capability to back up windows PC and easily restore (disk imaging). Shadow copying can be done as well or better through ZFS snapshots.

However I am a big believer in disk imaging for the purpose of restoring the operating system to a previous restore point. I am sort of familiar on how to do that with SE11 and snapshots but haven't done it because SE11 is very easy to setup and for the poolsetup I have a script that I can easily copy and run.

Q: How do you image or take snapshots of an ESXi system, e.g. to be stored on the Intel mini-itx in this case?
I usually image my Windows PC's with Acronis and store the images on a OI-SMB share.
But i have never done images from a ESXi itself. Even with all-in-one, full installation time (ESXi +OI)
is below an hour in a straight manner. Together with a Raid-1 config, i have never missed images.

If i would need images, i would use my hardware Raidsonic-Raid1 iR2420-2S-S2B enclosures that i use for ESXi
(unplug one disk, use it as 'image' and insert a new disk to rebuild Raid-1).

Guest snapshots are done via ZFS (NFS datastore -> ESXi hotsnaps -> ZFS snaps )