ESX - vCenter / Backup | Raid configuration

Posted on 2009-02-24
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
dear community

We plan to build an esx environment like this;

2x DL 380 G5
Each with;
2x Quad Xeon 3GHz
12GB PC2 6400 FullBuffered RAM
2x 4 Port NIC NC364T 1000T
HDD: * x 146GB 2.5" 10k

In a first part, each esx will hold 3 virtual servers.

In a first part of this project, the Vmware Environment has no requirement in
case of a module like HA, DRS, Vmotion, ...
We've 2 seperate esx systems.

2x VmWare Foundation
(include consolidated backup, update manager, ...)

What for a backup solution would you prefer?
We use BackupExec 12 on a different physical server.. I've already test the backup possibility.
I've install the backup exec vmware component and the vcb module from vmware.
Everything works fine so far in a testlab - i can backup the virt-machines directly from a
esx server. We've no central storage like a netapp (iscsi, san, ...) available.

Do you have experience in practical environment with a solution like this?
From my side a negative aspect in this szenario -
you will backup trough the same network adapters.

In a szenario like this, is vCenter necessary?
In my testslab i've found out, that it would work fine without it.
vCenter was only necessary for ha cluster, dsr, update mgr, ...
So you can save some investement - What you mean?


Raid solution
I've read a lot about different szenarios. Raid 10, Raid 5,
... don't use a Raid1 only for the vmware - wasting disk slots...
A DL380 supports 8 slots for 2.5" hdd's.
I'm planning to use 72gb 10k/15 or 146gb 10k disks.

In summary, I need around 100GB of diskspace (more better) on each ESX servers
for my virtual machines. The system should be sized for additional growing in future.

So a possible sizing was to use 8x 72gb disks with a raid 5 => around 500GB of space.
What do you recommend to use ... 10k or 15k? Is there any noticeable different?
Or do you advise to use different raid systems?
So during my websearch, I've notice, that a started esx server will not use
a lot of disk i/o  - so it would be possible to install everything on 1 single raid sys
- what you think about?

Thanks for helping me.
Best regards

Question by:olmu
    LVL 32

    Accepted Solution

    If you are planning on implenting at a minimum HA with VC you should move your VM Storage to a SAN or iSCSI storage.

    HA will not work with internal storage of your guests.  It has to be in storage that is shared by both of your ESX hosts..

    As for VCB(Virtual Center Backup), BExec will work. I think they have a VCB agent that will allow you to backup your guests.

    In my opinion when it comesto implementing solutions such as this, does go the "economical route".  Take a look at least at Virtual Center Foundations.  It includes HA, VCB and licenses for upto 3 nodes of ESX hosts and monitoring etc.  Well worth the money.

    Lastly, you should have minimum of three servers in your environment.  The 3rd server is a Standalone Windows box that will host your Virtual Center ahd have your tape drive or library attached for backups.

    Author Comment

    Hi nappy d
    Thanks for your comment,
    About  vCenter,
    Basically, everything I like to realize would work without vCenter.
    Today, I need no HA, DRS, ... standalone ESX servers.
    Backup will work so far.

    So I can save money for the third server (vcenter) and for the licenses of vcenter.
    Are there any additional options or advantages for backup to use vCenter?

    thanks, best regards,
    LVL 32

    Assisted Solution

    Yes the advantage to VC is that you take the human element out of some of the tasks for server failure.  Let's face it, VC is only something like $2500USD, what do you think the cost would be in time, if one of your ESX boxes goes down overnight?  You get no notification and you get no failover.  So if your sytems are mission critical to the business, HA and VC help keep your uptime in the hi 90's for business continuity.  If that is the case and you are happy with it that's fine.  However, I don't like receiving midnight calls that one of my ESX servers is down and I must get into the office to resolve.

    Also because you get three licenses with Virtual Center, it does not mean you have to use all three licenses today.  You can use two of the ESX licenses and if budget permits and you have to expand, you now have the option to go toa 3rd server.

    Author Comment

    Ok, thanks nappy d.
    Fact is, vCenter provides you the HA, DRS, Alarms ... options - Cluster abilities.
    When you don't use options like this, vCenter is not necessary.
    For the HA ability, you need to use a central store with iSCSI SAN or Fibre SAN.
    I agree so far with your comment - the costs for vcenter are only around 2500usd.

    So for a productive environment, it makes no sense to take two seperate servers and with local disks for the virtual machines.
    No HA available and if a esx fails, you will loose the machines - single point of failure.

    I think it would be better to use two servers for esx standard (includes HA), one physical for vCenter foundation (3hosts)
    and use a central storage like an iSCSI or direktly SAN HBA's.
    So you can provide high availabilty with the HA modul.

    I hope you will agree so far.

    Do you have any recommendation in case of the raid configuration?

    Thank you, best regards
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    Yes I agree with all that you have said.  Using everything you ahve said I am positive you wil be able to justify to the bean counters your implementation.  This is what I did and they agreed with me also.

    Author Comment

    Great, thank you for helping me here.

    Best regards,

    Author Comment

    ReOpen the Post<
    I've a quick question to you...
    Do you know, if it would be possible to mix cpu and memory modules on a esx host?
    That mean a dual core and a quad core in one server (in a server with 2 cpu sockel) or different frequence of the memory modules?

    I think it would not be possible - but I'm asking to be sure.

    Thanks for helping, best regards
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    It is not best to mix your memory at all in any computer in my opinion. Last time I tried this years ago, my system slowed to the slow frequency of the RAM(not good)...ESX would probably have unexpeted results.

    Now you can mix processors and do things like CPU masking but not in the same server.  You cna have two server in your ESX farm with differing processors but not in the same box.

    Author Comment

    Great, thanks you very much.
    Best regards,
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    Lastly, before you buy any, ANY hardware for your ESX implementation check out this link to verify that your choices meet VMWare's compatability specs:


    Author Comment

    Annother question ... so by the way...
    Example for vCenter
    When I have 3 ESX server attached trough fc to a storage box, how should the additional physical vCenter server be attached?

    When I start a backup with backup exec trough the vCenter - does I really backup trough
    vCenter or with a direct connection to the esx server?

    So in my opinion it should be enough if the vCenter was only attached trough LAN
    (because its only used for mgmt operations)
    is there any neccessary to attach the vCenter also with a HBA and fc?
    Hope this questions don't looks like to strange for you ..
    best regards

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