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 virtual machines. What some people don’t realize, however, is that you can create an SMB file share on a Windows file server and then manage that file share within VMM. You don’t have to dedicate the entire file server to using VMM. You just need one or more file shares that support the SMB 3.0 protocol. In this article, I’ll show you how to link Virtual Machine Manager to a share on a Windows file server.

Storage rankings

Before you start working on the process of adding a Windows file server to the Virtual Machine Manager framework, I recommend that you take the time to define one or more storage classifications (you will need them later). Fortunately, it’s super easy to do.

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

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

You can name your storage classifications however you like, but it’s a good idea to develop a naming scheme before actually creating the classifications. Some organizations use gold, silver, and bronze, but that’s not the only option. For this article, I’m going to create a storage classification called SMB (because we’re going to be using SMB storage on a Windows file server).

Windows file server connection

Now is the time to connect VMM to a Windows file server. First, right-click on the File Servers container and choose the Add Storage Device option from the context 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 file server option, shown in the image above. Click Next and you will be taken to a screen that will ask you to provide the IP address or Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of the storage device you wish to add. You can see it looks like the following image.

The most important thing to watch out for in the image above is that VMM assumes that you will bind it to a file server within a trusted Active Directory domain. In the real world, however, this won’t always be the case.

Normally, you would need to complete this step by simply providing the IP address or FQDN of the file server 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 check the box indicating that the server is in an untrusted Active Directory domain. However, things aren’t as straightforward as just checking a box.

The reason things are a little more complicated than they might appear at first glance is that, whatever your circumstances, you will always need to provide a Run As account. Run As accounts are accounts of. Active Directory users. This means that if your file server exists in an untrusted Active Directory domain, none of your 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. When doing so, however, you will need to make sure that VMM can resolve the remote domain name.

Once you have provided the file server name or IP address and selected a Run As account, click Next. VMM should now discover the file server, as shown in the image below. If for some reason this step fails, you can try adding your Run As account to the file server’s local administrators group. While not always necessary, I have seen it resolve discovery issues a number of times.

Click Next and Virtual Machine Manager will display a screen prompting you to choose the file server shares you want to put under management. Also, the wizard does not display hidden shares.

Putting a share under management means that you make it available for use by computers managed by your System Center Virtual Machine Manager deployment.

To put a file share under management, simply check the corresponding box. When you select a file share, you will also have the option to choose a storage classification from the drop-down list shown in the image below. Looking 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 similar to the one shown in the image below. Take a moment to review this screen. Assuming everything looks correct, click Finish to manage file sharing.

When you are done, the file server and the shares you 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 are done 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 in Virtual Machine Manager.

The selected image: Designed by Macrovector / Freepik

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