There are a number of decisions that go into virtualizing systems, but sometimes one of the hardest things to change is the storage practice. In a related manner, sometimes getting the money for robust storage isn’t always an option. For smaller environments considering Hyper-V that are also operating on a tight budget, there are a number of options to deliver shared storage and yet still have some rich features, including some you’d not expect.

Recently, I set up an iSCSI storage system for a Hyper-V host that leveraged the ioSafe 214 NAS with RAID storage system. I’ve blogged about the ioSafe products previously; they have a line of ruggedized enclosures for rotational and solid state drives that are fireproof, waterproof, and in some situations, shockproof. The ioSafe 214 NAS is based on the Synology storage controller, which provides a very easy to use interface to provision unified storage. The best part is that there is RAID on two drives in the case of the 214 and the enclosure is very well prepared for any physical extreme situation of fire and water damage. This is important as many environments (especially smaller organizations) may not have off-site options. Figure A shows the ruggedized enclosure of the device:  

The ioSafe 214 can be used in a number of scenarios. For one, it can be used to run Hyper-V virtual machines. It also could be used as a backup target, or you could use one for each of those use cases. Because it is unified storage (delivering multiple storage protocols), it gives a number of options.

This implementation of unified storage includes NFS, iSCSI, Windows sharing (SMB/CIFS), FTP, WebDAV, and more. For Hyper-V VMs, it’s most likely that iSCSI or a Windows share would be used. I’d recommend iSCSI with Hyper-V as there is an implied exclusivity to that host. Creating a host is done easily in the DSM interface as shown in Figure B below:

The next step would be to optionally enable multiple sessions from iSCSI initiators if multiple Hyper-V hosts are to be used, as shown in Figure C below:

For single server Hyper-V environments, single host and LUN configuration options may be all that is required. The best part is that this enclosure is very rugged and for its size (a 2-drive unit), you can provide an additional level of physical security for storage for Hyper-V virtual machines.

Have you ever considered a ruggedized hard drive for virtual machine storage? What goes into your decision process? Share your comments below.