When it comes to NFS as a server, I generally leave that up to *nix. Generally speaking, Windows obviously is going to reign king in the SMB file sharing, but has for a long time supported it’s *nix clients through the use of NFS as a server.
I think one of the best use cases for NFS on a Windows Server is for added storage for VMware for ISO’s and Template storage. Many people chose (and I still prefer) to have a physical vCenter server. We can debate later as to why, but still my preference. However, based on that preference, I’m generally finding a lot of wasted space on a newer server where even a pair of mirrored hard drives can give you tons of free / wasted space. It’s also generally very cheap storage compared to expensive SAN solutions.
Yesterday’s article, upgrading vSphere from 4.0 to 4.1 – left me with a new physical vCenter with 3 – 500GB drives in a RAID 5. vCenter itself is going to occupy a marginal amount of space (5-10GB including database for a small deployment) and then upwards of 20-30GB if using VMware Update Manager with it. However, in this setup – that still left us with a stockpile of several hundred GB remaining.
I often suggest to my customers that this is a perfect place to store useful data, that isn’t business related but still quite convenient to have in the virtual realm – mainly ISO’s and Templates.
1. In Windows 2003 (if I recall correctly, it’s been a while) – you had to download “Services For Unix” 3.x as a separate download from Microsoft. Windows 2003 R2 I think is when this was added as a service installation from the standard Add/Remove programs under the file services dialog. In Windows 2008 and 2008 R2, the services are added under the Computer Management \ Roles \ File server wizard as shown below:
2. In Windows 2008 R2, there are few options under the Services for Network File System (NFS) management console:
Upon launching, you can configure File or Server options, but the defaults work fine for simple sharing requirements to VMware. One suggestion I do like to change is if you open the Server for NFS properties, you can enable logging. I like to add in logging which really helps for troubleshooting purposes. Note the location of the log files is specifically under the Event Viewer under: “Applications and Services Logs” then “Microsoft Windows” then “Server for NFS”. It does not log to your standard App/Security/System logs.
Otherwise, most of the configuration for NFS is done per-share.
After installation of the Services for NFS, the Properties dialog box for folders has an added tab called “NFS Sharing” :
Clicking the “Manage NFS Sharing” will allow you to share this folder to NFS clients.
While fully capable of joining some of the more advanced authentication realms for NFS, in this scenario that we’re sharing out to VMware Hosts, they mount as ‘root’. Check the following options “No server authentication” and leave the “Enable Unmapped user access” and leave it as “Allow unmapped user Unix Access (by UID/GID)” selected. Then click the “Permissions” button.
Under the “Permissions” dialog box, make sure to enable Read/Write access, as well as “Allow Root Access” being checked.
If you would like to limit the scope of NFS clients to certain machines, you can do so from here as well.
Then click “OK” throughout the rest of your dialog box.
You can now connect your share to the VMware Hosts. Note, you will need to have a VMkernel interface that can access this server. If you have an extra physical NIC on the vCenter server, it’d be nice if you can drop it on the iSCSI VLAN (if you’re using iSCSI that is.) This is a fantastic “cheap” place to store templates and ISO and other files (ESX drivers etc).
Hope this helps!