Adding a Windows file server to System Center Virtual Machine Manager

System Center Virtual Machine Manager has the ability to manage storage, which can be assigned to hosts or to VMs. What some people don’t realize, however, is that you can create an SMB file share on a Windows file server and then bring that file share under management within VMM. You don’t have to dedicate the entire file server to VMM’s use. You just need one or more file shares that support the SMB 3.0 protocol. In this article, I will show you how to link Virtual Machine Manager to a share on a Windows file server.

Storage classifications

Before you begin working through the process of adding a Windows file server to the Virtual Machine Manager fabric, I recommend taking some time to define one or more storage classifications (you will need them later on). Thankfully, this is super-easy to do.

To define a storage classification, open the Virtual Machine Manager console, and then click on the fabric workspace. Next, expand the Storage tree, right-click on Classifications and Pools, and choose the Create Storage Classification option, shown below.

Windows file server
At this point, the VMM console will open the New Classification window, which you can see in the next image. To create a storage classification, just enter a name for the storage classification you want to create, enter an optional description, and click Add.

You can name your storage classifications anything that you want, but it’s a good idea to develop a naming scheme before you actually create the classifications. Some organizations use Gold, Silver, and Bronze, but that isn’t the only option. For this article, I will create a storage classification called SMB (because we are going to be using SMB storage on a Windows File Server).

Connecting the Windows file server

Now it’s time to connect VMM to a Windows file server. Begin by right-clicking on the File Servers container and choose the Add Storage Device option from the shortcut menu. This will cause Windows to launch the Add Storage Device wizard, which you can see in the image below.

Windows file server
Since the goal is to add SMB storage as a fabric resource, choose the Windows-based file server option, shown in the image above. Click Next, and you will be taken to a screen that asks you to supply the IP address or fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the storage device you want to add. You can see that this looks like in the next image.

The most important thing to pay attention to in the image above is that VMM assumes that you will be linking it to a file server within a trusted Active Directory domain. In the real world, however, this isn’t always going to be the case.

Normally, you would complete this step by simply providing the file server’s IP address or FQDN and then choosing the Run As account that you want to use. If the file server resides outside of your Active Directory forest, you will need to select the checkbox indicating that the server is in an untrusted Active Directory domain. However, things aren’t quite as simple as just selecting a checkbox.

The reason why things are a bit more complicated than they might at first seem is that regardless of your circumstances, you will still have to provide a Run As account. Run As accounts are Active Directory user accounts. This means that if your file server exists in an untrusted Active Directory domain, none of your existing Run As accounts will be able to access it.

The obvious solution to this problem is to create a Run As account for the domain where the file server resides. In doing so, however, you will have to make sure that VMM can resolve the remote domain name.

Once you have supplied the file server’s name or IP address and picked a Run As account, click Next. VMM should now discover the file server, as shown in the image below. If for whatever reason, this step fails, then you might try adding your Run As account to the file server’s local administrators group. Although this isn’t always necessary, I have seen it fix discovery problems on more than one occasion.

Click Next, and Virtual Machine Manager will display a screen prompting you to choose the file server’s shares that you want to place under management. Incidentally, the wizard does not display hidden shares.

Bringing a share under management means that you are making them available for use by computers managed by your System Center Virtual Machine Manager deployment.

To bring a file share under management, simply select the corresponding checkbox. When you select a file share, you will also have the option of choosing a storage classification from the drop-down list shown in the image below. As you look at the image, you will also notice that there is an option to associate the file share with a particular host group.

Click Next, and you will be taken to a summary screen that is similar to the one shown in the image below. Take a moment to review this screen. Assuming that everything looks good, click Finish to bring the file share under management.

When you are done, the file server and the shares that you have selected will be listed among the available storage, as shown below.

Windows file server
Your Windows VMM file server is ready to use

Once you finish adding a file server to the VMM console, it is available for your use. You can now use the file server as a storage resource within Virtual Machine Manager.

Featured image: Designed by Macrovector / Freepik

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