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Virtual Server 2005 and RAID-5 configurations

One of our readers is setting up their first virtual environment. The configuration he wants to put together isn't something he can find documentation on, so he wrote in to expert Anil Desai for help. Read this answer to see what he said.

We are building our first virtual environment using Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. We will create two virtual machines - a file/print server and an Exchange server.

For data storage, we'd like to share a RAID-5 array from the host 'across the network.' The Proliant ML350 dual processor Xeon host, with lots of RAM, has a large mirrored drive for its OS and the VMs.

In your book or in Microsoft documentation, we haven't seen that configuration. Any thoughts?

I'm not sure I completely understand the question, but I'll take a shot at it. Either way, rest assured that your desired configuration is actually pretty common.

Here's one guess: You have a well-equipped server on which you want your new virtual machines (VMs) to run. You want to ensure that network shares that are created within the file/print server VM are available to other users throughout your network. In this case, all you need to do is attach the VM's virtual network interface to a virtual network that is connected to the host's network adapter. By default, a virtual network called "External Network" should have been created during installation.

If, on the other hand, you want to store virtual hard disks for your virtual machines on a remote storage device, that's also possible. I'm guessing that you might have an external storage array that's running RAID-5, and you'd rather have the VHDs stored on that remote server. If that is what you're asking, you can accomplish this through the use of Windows file shares, iSCSI, or SAN technology.

One final guess is that you want remote storage locations (such as a folder on a storage array) to be hosted by the file server VM. You want users to connect to the file server VM, but the actual storage requests should go to the RAID-5 array. In this case, you can rely upon iSCSI, SANs, or Microsoft's Distributed File System (DFS) technology.

Of course, I could have interpreted your question incorrectly on all counts. If so (or if you want more details), feel free to send a follow-up. Good luck!

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