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ESX Server 3.5 - RAID Array/File System Configuration query

I have a recently purchased Fujitsu RX300 S4 server which has 6* SAS 73GB Hard Disks. I am looking to have this machine host around 5/6 virtual machines using ESX 3.5. I have a RAID 5/6 SAS based LSI MegaRAID controller.

I am new to setting up VMWare servers and have a few questions:

When configuring the ESX RAID and partitioning, I am going to use Raid 5. However, I understand that I will need to create many partitions; /boot (100mb), /swap (544mb), /ext3 (5gb), /VMFS3 (10gb per desired VM) and /vmkcore (100mb for the /VMFS3) and finally a /log partition (desired).

As I want 5/6 VM's I assume I should set the /VMFS3 partition to at least 60GB with the possibility of using the maximum available space?

Should I consider using any other paritition with the vfat file system as storage? (We would ideally like a copy of VM's on a seperate partition acting as a backup and nothing more).

Would there be anything needed or useful if using the above configuration? Is there anything that is majorly wrong with the above? As I understand it I will be creating 5 partitions (mentioned above), does this seem correct?

Sorry for the lack of detail beyond what isn't there, I am obviously new to this and am trying to understand how to configure the system to how my company needs it.

Can anyone help?
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2 Solutions
Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
You are getting volumes and pertitions mixed up:)

If it were mine If mirror (RAID1) the first two drives and (RAID5) the remaining drives

All the Linux volumes will go in the Mirrored pair (then create a vmfs volume on that pair for the ramainder of the space)
Then when the server is built add in the RAID 5 volume as additional storage and put your VM's in there :)

Its good Practice to Disconnect All storage from the new ESX server Except the Drive/Array that the System will be installed on. Once you have the  
Hardware built and Drives/Arrays Presented.

1. Boot the Server With the Setup CD/DVD in.
2. You have two install options Press {Enter} to launch the graphical setup.
3. You get the option to Test the install media - if you burned it test it the first time, if its Vmware media just Press Tab > Enter to skip.
4. Linux X Windows will launch > at the welcome page click Next.
5. Select the Keyboard Layout (Get this wrong and complex passwords will be a nightmare later!). > Next.
6. Select the Mouse (Only needed for the setup) >Next.
7. At This Point it will tell you it can see some storage - WARNING Selecting YES - Delete ALL Data will do what it says on the Tin! (Remember if it can  
see SAN LUNS etc it will wipe them too (Hence the reason I disconnect Everything)
8. If you have only presented the ESX Drive to the Server then Click Yes to Proceed (On HP Servers the devices look like cciss/c0d0 (first partition)  and cciss/c0d1 (Second partition) etc
9. Tick to accept the EULA > Next.
10. OK In test environments and small infrastructures select the default of recommended and click Next(And jump to step 12,) HOWEVER....

Production Environments

Select Advanced > Next > New > Create each one of the Partitions Below..

Mount point      Which Disk      Size            Type      Used By            For            Type
/boot            Main Boot      100Mb            ext3      S Console      Boot            Primary
/            Main Boot      10240Mb (5GB)      ext3      S Console      Root            Primary
{none}            Main Boot      1639Mb (5GB)      swap      S Console      Swap            Primary
/var/log      Main Boot      4096MB (2GB)      ext3      S Console      Log Files      Logical
{none}            Local/Remote      100MB            vmcore      VMKernel      Core Dump       Logical

(avail as VMFS)      Local/Remote      Varies            VMFS-3      VMKernel      VM's ISO's etc      Logical

Note the Size figures in Brackets are the Default values that larger preceding values are recommended for production
Giving the swap file more than 1.6GB is not advised as that's twice the physical RAM that can be presented to the service console.

11. Click Next.
12. Accept the defaults > Next.
13. Now Stop > If you only have one NIC you know which one to select, If not select the drop down and select the NIC that you use to access the service console (On Modern HP servers 3:0:0 is usually the first onboard NIC).
14. Enter the IP details > Enter the DNS Details (Note you can edit the DNS stuff later but get it right now if youre going to use Vmotion etc)
15. If you are in a test environment leave the tick box "Create a default network for virtual machines" ticked. If you are deploying Real ESX Server utick it. > Next.
16. Select your location > Next.
17. Enter and re-enter the root password > Next
18. Review the screen > Next.
19. ESX Server Will Install (Modern Server 5 minutes)
20. When done note the URL and click Finish and the server will reboot and boot into ESX.
Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
Then you can add the RAID 5 volume

1. Connect to the Virtual Centre or ESX Server using the VI client.
2. Select the ESX Server > Configuration > Licensed Features (Under ESX Server Standard you should see iSCSI Storage).
3. Select Configuration Storage Adaptors > select the SCSI adaptor >  Rescan.
4. Now Add the storage > Select Configuration > Storage > Add Storage.
5. Ensure Disk/LUN is selected > Next > Select the LUN > Next > Next > Give the Data store a Name e.g.  RAID5_Datastore > Next.
6. Leave the Defaults > Next > Finish.
7. You will see "Create VMFS Data store appear below watch its progress.
HantsTrustAuthor Commented:
Thats some great advice Pete, thanks very much.

I am still confused with your instructions if I am honest, even though they seem very appropriate. With this fujitsu server there is a start CD where you can configure the system for how you want it.

When running through the VM Ware wizard it asks to setup a configuration which is defaulted to RAID5 and then asks for your partitions. (I did have ALL HDD's in at that point, however).

Do you mean I should just leave one HDD in as I setup the system and just leave it as RAID 1? Then proceed with the ESX Installation? Once THIS is done I can put the drives in and go back to install the other partitions/RAID configuration?

Really sorry for the stupid questions but this is something I hve never tried before and don't want to get anything wrong :)
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Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
I usually work on HP servers but, dont use the fujitsu start disk - let the server boot till you see the RAID card it will ask you to press a key to configure arrays
Configure your two arrays here! then boot with the ESX CD in and it will see both LUNS presented - simply create all your setup partitions on the smaller RAID1 LUN and ignore the other one - job done

HantsTrustAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your advice once again!

I will continue our investigating and testing before implementing anything serious, I think you have nudged me on to the right track with this particular issue.
Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
:) ThanQ

Glad to help
HantsTrustAuthor Commented:
Hello Pete,

I was wondering if I can pick your brains again if you are able to offer your services. I have been reading through some books regarding VMware and that all looks relativley straight forward when it comes to installtion of ESX.

I am mainly concerned about the RAID setup now. From what I understand from you advice, I will use 1 Physical HDD which will be mirrored by a second. This will have a raid 1 configuration incase one fails, the other takes over so ALL VM's dont stop working and the server still boots. :)

The other 4 drives will be RAID5 and will essentially be the "storage" partition where the VM's will reside.

I will be using the server start software to create the RAID as I am unfamiliar with doing it otherwise.

Are u suggesting that I do this and then when it comes to installing ESX 3.5 I remove the physical drives or just ignore them and use the RAID1 setup for this.

Sorry for the lack of clarity on this but the mind still boggles at this setup :)

Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
no problem - to avoid confision you can simply remove the raid 5 volume yes :) then ESX will only see one LUN so you cant make a mistake

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