button-print-blu20 Windows 2008 R2 - Breaking the 2TB Limit with Nimble Storage

I have recently needed to look at one of my Nimble volumes which was growing quite quickly. We have a Windows 2008R2 server which is used as a target/Proxy for our Veeam v7 Backups, it already has 2 NIC’s installed – one for the VMware data network and one for the iSCSI LAN.

The volume was originally created at 1TB which Windows kindly formatted as MBR, over time this volume has grown.  Unfortunately, when I created the volume I hadn’t realised that although Windows 2008 supports large volumes, the default format option does not!  Going forward, I now know that any potentially large data volumes need to be formatted as GPT.

In order to get beyond this volume issue, I had a number of options open to me:-

  1. Either push this volume to 1.9TB then create another Volume and span my backups across multiple volumes- this could get messy and I may not see the compression benefits when compared to one large Volume.
  2. Create a new Volume from scratch, and move my backup files across – this could be a slow process, having to read and write data back and forth, but would ultimately give me a fresh start.
  3. Convert the original MBR Volume to GPT with the data in place (seen some utilities that can do this) – but then I need to be very careful not to loose data. My Nimble snapshots should preserve the data fully if this went wrong? As well as this, I could do a “one off” VMware snapshot to capture the guest VM so that I can recover that in turn, should the conversion fall apart.

After some deliberation,and a few e-mails to Nimble Support I chose Option 2 – basically as it gave me a fool proof way of moving the data and recreating the volume with the correct settings. The speed and simplicity of the Nimble interface allows me to quickly Thin Provision a new volume and create the correct iSCSI Initiator Groups. Moving the 900Gb of data from one volume to another took around 10 hours, pretty impressive for a virtual machine reading and writing to the the same Storage over a 1Gb LAN.

Enhancing the iSCSI Connection

Out of the box this set up gave me a single iSCSI connection to the Nimble, so any traffic is restricted to the first NIC -not great but it works. My next task was to enhance the connection to make use of the Windows MultiPath support and the Nimble Windows Toolkit (a separate download from their website). Click here for this article

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