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Oracle will bring back VirtualBox shared disk capability

During the questions section of the last webinar Introducing Oracle VM VirtualBox 3.2 Oracle said that they received a complains from a lot of customers using VirtualBox regarding the installation of Oracle RAC. This requires a shared disk drive to be accessed by the nodes (VMs) of the cluster simultaneously, but this cannot be achieved directly. There is a workaround by using iSCSI, but this is not the point.

Achim Hasenmueller from VirtualBox engineering team said that they plan to deliver this capability very soon with the next maintenance release and not to wait for the major update. I was surprised to hear that they used to have this feature working, but during one of the major changes to the storage stack they have lost it. I was not able to find this one at the changelogs, but by accident I found the announcement of this limitation at debian bug report log:

From: "VirtualBox" <trac@virtualbox.org>
Cc: vbox-trac@virtualbox.org
Subject: Re: [VirtualBox] #1188: Please support to share a disk image
 between two guests
Date: Wed, 08 Apr 2009 15:24:49 -0000

#1188: Please support to share a disk image between two guests
Reporter:  bzed              |        Owner:
    Type:  enhancement       |       Status:  closed
Priority:  minor             |    Component:  VM control
 Version:  VirtualBox 1.5.4  |   Resolution:  wontfix
Keywords:                    |        Guest:  other
    Host:  other             |
Changes (by frank):

  * status:  new => closed
  * resolution:  => wontfix


 Starting with 2.1.0, a disk image can be attached to two VMs at the same
 time, but only one of these two VMs can be powered on at the same time.
 Klaus already explained why we wouldn't implement sharing an image between
 running VMs. Closing

I've been using VirtualBox for an year now, but recently I decided to install Oracle RAC. Like most of the ex-vmware users I've just created a new disk and added it to two virtual machines. The first one started normaly, but when I tryed to start the second one I got the following error:

Component: Machine
Interface: IMachine {6d9212cb-a5c0-48b7-bbc1-3fa2ba2ee6d2}

It turns out that VirtualBox will not allow more than one running VM to use a VDI file. The solution I found most useful is to setup a third server (or VM) with Openfiler iSCSI host. Then VirtualBox can transparently present iSCSI disk to a virtual machine as a virtual hard disk. The guest operating system will not see any difference between a virtual disk image (VDI file) and an iSCSI target. To achieve this, VirtualBox has an integrated iSCSI initiator.