vSphere Hypervisor

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  • 1.  Host Hardware and Storage Question

    Posted Feb 27, 2015 09:37 AM

    I'm looking to setup two host servers with ESXI, but I'm not 100% sure on hardware. I'm just starting to dive in.

    The first host server would be built on a Intel E5-2620 processor with 32 GB of memory. I have a small SSD I was thinking I could use to boot ESXI off (can I use the extra space for swap?). I wouldn't have any additional storage.

    The second server is will be built on a Intel E3-1220 processor with 16 GB of memory. On this server I plan to have two hardware RAID 10 arrays. One array will be built on four 240 GB SSD drives and the other would have four 2 TB SAS drives. I plan to boot ESXI off a flash drive or maybe a small SSD. drive.

    Am I on the right path here? My thinking is I have the first host on a more powerful machine and the second host more for shared storage, probably iSCSI. The other option I was thinking about doing is one host with local storage.


  • 2.  RE: Host Hardware and Storage Question

    Posted Feb 27, 2015 03:13 PM

    Hi there,

    if you don't plan on expanding your ESXi hosts to create a cluster, I'd recommend getting a single, more powerful ESXi with all these drives as a local storage - provided you have beefy enough RAID controller to handle the SSD's IOPS in RAID10 if you plan to do a heavy workload on it. Will you be ordering from a major hardware version or do you want to build these hosts yourself (aka whitebox)? If so make sure all the parts are on VMware's HCL

    If you are thinking about extending your hosts by means of clustering as time goes on, I would recommend a shared storage solution - either build yourself one from another physical server (with use of FreeNAS for example) or with a use of VMware-certified QNAP box and presenting your storage via iSCSI or NFS.

    If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to ask

  • 3.  RE: Host Hardware and Storage Question

    Posted Feb 27, 2015 04:16 PM

    Thanks for the reply.

    My environment will primarily be a setup for an open source ERP and eCommerce application I'm developing, but it wall also double as file storage.

    Intilally I'm looking 4 Linux VMs that will server as the the database and web servers (probably NGINX).  and a couple of Windows servers for LDAP authentication on the Linux. I also may want to implement a Linux software based load balancer for the web and database servers. I would be using another Linux based OS to handle the file storage shares. I'm more familiar with Ubuntu and CentOS, so I'll probably stick with those.

    It will be a white box build for both. I will be using LSI raid controllers which are on the HCL. I will be using Supermicro motherboards (one would be DP) which are not in the HCL, but barebones and servers that use the same board and are on the HCL, so that should be okay. Everything else is on the HCL.

    Eventually, I may expand it. I can even use my personal computer with ESXI in a VM to add a third host. I have an i7-3770 with 32 GB of memory. It's always on anyway and I can definitely set aside 8 GB of memory for ESXI. I also have a two 1 GB drives with RAID0 that I use as a scratch drive.

    If I went the local storage route, I would have a budget to add a second processor. So that would be two 6 core processors. I'm comfortable doing it locally or shared. With a local setup I should be able to expand later without issue correct? Initially, I don't have an immediate need for more than one host. If I do it locally and have SSD RAID10 array I could split the array and sue a small logical drive to boot ESXI and use it for swap space correct?


  • 4.  RE: Host Hardware and Storage Question

    Posted Feb 27, 2015 08:43 PM

    Hi again.

    Your plan is very well thought out. The partitioning is done automatically during the ESXi setup so you would have to set up a separate virtual disk for that. One thing that you can also do is to store the ESXi on an USB stick or an SD Card - it has a minimal footprint. Only thing you would have to do in that case is redirect the scratch disk and logs to your persistent storage.If you would be doing a 3-host setup I would recommend vSAN to you as that would just suit the stuff you need.

    But for starters and to make things easy for the beginning (and get yourself familiar with ESXi/vCenter) I'd recommend you all-in on a single, powerful host with local storage and ESXi installed on a USB stick/SD Card (the whole hypervisor resides in the memory after boot) with scratch disk and logs pointing to your non-volatile storage. If you'll want to go a shared-storage route via an external device as the time passes, you can always migrate the VMs there and then connect a second host as well to it.

    With a local setup if you get some kind of array-admin on ESXi (I hope this is still working in future versions of ESXi: VMware KB: ESXi 5.0 Server Management Tool Support for LSI) you could also hot-add drives and create arrays on the fly so yes, storage expansion will be possible and pretty much easy to do on-the-fly.

    Also, even using SSD for swap space is the last resort you should do - it is better than swapping to HDDs for sure but the main thing is to ensure that swapping does never happen. Try to calculate your memory in advance and think about Running VM Overhead & ESXi's VMkernel reservations and add some extra as well. Saying that, I think you could also scrap the second processor for now and rather buy more memory - in majority of cases ESXi runs out of memory first before it does of CPU resources (there are some exceptions like VDI though) - see this great article to help you design your memory layout Memory Deep Dive series - frankdenneman.nl.

    If you have any further questions, just ask :smileywink: