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Exchange 2010, can NFS be used for database and log files? RRS feed

  • Question

  • We currently run Exchange 2007 under ESXi 4.1 using NFS storage for the C: drives on our mailbox and hub transport/client access servers.

    We present to the Exchange mailbox server two luns from our Netapp filer using Microsoft's iSCSI initiator. One lun is used for the Exchange database and one for Exchange log files.

    We will be migrating to Exchange 2010 and could certainly use a similar setup. What I would rather do though is present the mailbox server with two NFS datastores carved out on our Netapp filer. One NFS datastore will house the Exchange database and the other for the log files.

     

    Two questions:

    1. Is this supported - according to this article (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996719.aspx) it may not be supported

    2. Is anybody running Exchange 2010 using NFS for storage of database and logs files?

    I am running SQL 2008 R2 just fine using NFS datastores to house the SQL databases and log files.

    Friday, April 22, 2011 6:52 PM

Answers

  • Hiya,

    NFS storage is classed as NAS storage, and even when presented as block-level storage such as a VMDK is not supported - not just for the mailbox role but other roles also. You'll see it mentioned in the article you've linked to.

    I would suggest sticking with iSCSI, even if it's iSCSI presented to the ESX/vSphere environment. Personally I can't see what issues could arise on storage that's fully supported by VMware for running VMs on NFS, and can see why you want to do it (NFS is great with vSphere and makes storage management easier), but if it's not supported by Microsoft I would certainly recommend against it.

    Steve


    Steve Goodman
    Check out my Blog for more Exchange info or find me on Twitter

    • Marked as answer by emma.yoyo Friday, April 29, 2011 1:18 AM
    Friday, April 22, 2011 8:06 PM

All replies

  • the way i read the section on storage in that link, looks like they are saying presenting storage to exchange via VMWare "disks" isnt supported, but if you do like you did before and carve out ISCSI luns on that same netapp storage it should be supported.

    I am running my cas/ht servers in vmware, backended by netapp via NFS datastores for around 2400 users, but my mailbox servers use FC connections.

     

    The storage used by the Exchange guest machine for storage of Exchange data (for
    example, mailbox databases or Hub transport queues) can be virtual storage of a
    fixed size (for example, fixed virtual hard disks (VHDs) in a Hyper-V
    environment), SCSI pass-through storage, or Internet SCSI (iSCSI) storage.
    Pass-through storage is storage that's configured at the host level and
    dedicated to one guest machine. All storage used by an Exchange guest machine
    for storage of Exchange data must be block-level storage
    because Exchange 2010 doesn't support the use of network attached storage (NAS)
    volumes. Also, NAS storage that's presented to the guest as block-level storage
    via the hypervisor isn't supported. The following virtual disk requirements
    apply for volumes used to store Exchange data:

     

    Friday, April 22, 2011 7:01 PM
  • Hiya,

    NFS storage is classed as NAS storage, and even when presented as block-level storage such as a VMDK is not supported - not just for the mailbox role but other roles also. You'll see it mentioned in the article you've linked to.

    I would suggest sticking with iSCSI, even if it's iSCSI presented to the ESX/vSphere environment. Personally I can't see what issues could arise on storage that's fully supported by VMware for running VMs on NFS, and can see why you want to do it (NFS is great with vSphere and makes storage management easier), but if it's not supported by Microsoft I would certainly recommend against it.

    Steve


    Steve Goodman
    Check out my Blog for more Exchange info or find me on Twitter

    • Marked as answer by emma.yoyo Friday, April 29, 2011 1:18 AM
    Friday, April 22, 2011 8:06 PM
  • yes they are often slow to adapt to newer technologies, i can remember when they didnt support iscsi hehe.  Personally I think it is crazy that they claim to support VMWARE then put in the stipulation that you cant use their file system, especially since they put dll's and stuff all over the place, so its kind of hard to make sure everything exchange related is off of "virtualized storage" such as a VMDK.  I bet they come around eventually, like they did for iscsi :)
    Friday, April 22, 2011 8:11 PM
  • In summary, I can have my Exchange 2010 mailbox server and hub transport/client access server running under vSphere using an NFS datastore for the C: drive. When trying to decide how to handle the actual Exchange database and log files, I have three choices:

    1. Present to the Exchange 2010 mailbox server, via Microsoft's iSCSI initiator, two luns. One lun for the Exchange database and one for log files. This appears to be a supported configuration.

    2. Present to the Exchange 2010 mailbox server two NFS datastores, one to store the Exchange database and one to store log files. This is not a supported configuration but my guess is it will work.

    3. Hold off on my migration until choice 2 is a supported configuration. I am fairly certain that using VMDKs residing on an NFS datastore is supported for storage of SQL 2008 R2 databases and log files. This gives me some hope that Exchange 2010 support is not far behind.

    Two followup quesitons:

    - Is the above summary correct?

    - In the article I linked to they define Exchange data as mailbox data and Hub Transport queues. Does this mean that I cannot even store the C: drive using an NFS datastore?


    Friday, April 22, 2011 8:58 PM
  • yes they are often slow to adapt to newer technologies, i can remember when they didnt support iscsi hehe.  Personally I think it is crazy that they claim to support VMWARE then put in the stipulation that you cant use their file system, especially since they put dll's and stuff all over the place, so its kind of hard to make sure everything exchange related is off of "virtualized storage" such as a VMDK.  I bet they come around eventually, like they did for iscsi :)


    While I agree with the premise of support for Exchange on VMware even if it's on NFS - I can kind of see why. Mix in NFS as a whole and you are leaving yourself open to a lot of unknown issues; NetApp and EMC NAS backends are one thing, but if you've got someone running off an OpenFiler appliance mounted on ESXi who's going to support you.

    To be honest, I am surprised about the blanket iSCSI support, as theoretically that means someone could be running their Exchange box off of an OpenSolaris box with iSCSI target backing onto ZFS with block-level dedupe, RAID-Z etc. Is that any worse than someone using NFS via ESX on a NetApp filer? I think not.

    Personally I think they should just support it so long as it's presented as block storage. In reality the customers that will be using NFS or iSCSI via ESX in an enterprise environment are already paying a fair bit(!) for support from VMware and their storage vendor to counter any issues they see by using either of those protocols.

     

     


    Steve Goodman
    Check out my Blog for more Exchange info or find me on Twitter


    Friday, April 22, 2011 9:24 PM
  • In summary, I can have my Exchange 2010 mailbox server and hub transport/client access server running under vSphere using an NFS datastore for the C: drive. When trying to decide how to handle the actual Exchange database and log files, I have three choices:

    1. Present to the Exchange 2010 mailbox server, via Microsoft's iSCSI initiator, two luns. One lun for the Exchange database and one for log files. This appears to be a supported configuration.

    2. Present to the Exchange 2010 mailbox server two NFS datastores, one to store the Exchange database and one to store log files. This is not a supported configuration but my guess is it will work.

    3. Hold off on my migration until choice 2 is a supported configuration. I am fairly certain that using VMDKs residing on an NFS datastore is supported for storage of SQL 2008 R2 databases and log files. This gives me some hope that Exchange 2010 support is not far behind.

    Two followup quesitons:

    - Is the above summary correct?

    - In the article I linked to they define Exchange data as mailbox data and Hub Transport queues. Does this mean that I cannot even store the C: drive using an NFS datastore?



    Hiya

    To the first question, yes you are correct. For 1) You could also present iSCSI LUNs to vSphere if that better suits your storage strategy.

    Don't forget SQL Server supports NAS storage already and people have been running Oracle databases off NFS for years, too; so it's slightly different.

    For the second question - I would take it as you can run the C: off of an NFS datastore, so long as on Hub Transport's you move the queue to an iSCSI LUN and on Mailbox servers you create the DBs on iSCSI LUNs.

    Steve


    Steve Goodman
    Check out my Blog for more Exchange info or find me on Twitter

    Friday, April 22, 2011 9:36 PM