Scott's Weblog The weblog of an IT pro specializing in cloud computing, virtualization, and networking, all with an open source view

Nifty NFS-VMware Trick

I can take absolutely zero credit for this idea; it came completely from this aticle by Nick Triantos. But the trick is so absolutely cool, so incredibly useful, and yet so obvious (once you read it, you’ll smack yourself in the head and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”) that I just had to say something about it.

The use of NFS is getting more and more attention (I blogged about it briefly a few days ago) as a primary storage technology for VMware deployments. Although NFS lacks the raw throughput of Fibre Channel, once you start loading up VMs in a datastore NFS begins to look more and more attractive. But performance is only part of the allure here, especially when using something like a Network Appliance storage system with its Snapshot functionality. (Yes, other vendors can do the same kinds of things. Substitute your favorite vendor or filesystem here, if you so desire. I would imagine you could do something similar with ZFS.)

The basic gist of the article (I do encourage you to go read it; I’ve already added it to my del.icio.us bookmarks) is to use NetApp Snapshots to gain access to VMware’s VMDK files (even while the VM is running), and Linux with the Linux-NTFS driver to mount virtual machine disk files over NFS for file-level backups of both Windows and Linux guest VMs. Now that’s something not even VCB can do (VCB file-level backups are limited to Windows guests). Pretty cool, if you ask me.

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