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What's the best RAID configuration for a singel ESX 3. 5 server

Posted on 2008-06-12
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
Hi,
  We are looking to put a single ESX 3.5 server in ourenviorment. Mostl lkely a Dell PowerEdge 2950 III.
Usually I get 5 hard drives in the servers we get. 2 set as RAID 1 (mirroring) and 3 as RAID 5.
But with an ESX server does this make sense still?  Should the ESX OS go on the mirrored partition and the VMDK files go on the RAID 5? Or should I just do a RAID 5 and put everything on it.

thanks
david
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Question by:dladowitz
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Share-IT earned 2000 total points
ID: 21774140
Raid 10 would be best but you'll ned 6 disks. RAID5 will be ok for data reads but for writes, due to the parity calculations, it's sloooow. I can't remember if you can get 6 disks in a PE2950 but if so 1 big raid 10 set would be my preference. If you can't get 6 disks then 1x RAID 5 would be preferred as the actuall ESX OS is loaded into memory and not often accessed (in the grand scheme of things) and you want as many spindles working on the datastores as possible.
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by:larstr
ID: 21774337
david,
Raid10 would give best performance as suggested by Share-IT. Also keep in mind that 15k rpm SAS disks are more than twice as fast as SATA disks. The more disks, the better. It will also help having as much ram as possible on the raid controller.

Lars
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by:Duncan Meyers
ID: 21774533
>Should the ESX OS go on the mirrored partition and the VMDK files go on the RAID 5? Or should I just do a RAID 5 and put everything on it.

Build ESX Server on a mirrored pair, but remember that VMware's Vmotion, High Availability and Dynamic Resource Scheduling all require shared storage, so if you're planning on rolling out VMware ESX Server to support your production environment, you'll need to purchase a SAN. None of the VMware availability technologies will work if you build virtual machines on local storage.
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by:JasonSTL739
ID: 21804489
Whatever you do, don't build out the ESX server "using up" two of the drives as a mirrored pair.  That is a waste of I/O.  You can easily rebuild an ESX server that has "one big drive" and "save" anything that is on VMFS volumes.

Assuming you have a hardware RAID card with battery backed cache, I would actually suggest RAID5 if you have 5 drives.  RAID10 with 6 drives "wastes" far too many drives.  The writes are slower with RAID5, but should be quite tolerable.  I would however use 15k drives, and more drives than 5 if possible. BE SURE you have a very good hardware and backed RAID card if you go RAID5.
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