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Home ESXi 3.5 suggestion

Posted on 2009-04-08
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Greetings experts,

I am currently reviewing my options to improve my virtual environment at home.  As all of us, I am trying to keep cost down, but get the performance I need and have some scalability.
It would be great to get some pointers if I am headed in the right direction or if I should re-structure my strategy.

I have wanted shared storage for sometime now so my current plan is to turn my existing ESXi host into a Openfiler iSCSI SAN.  Been eager to use VI features.  I was about to pull the trigger on a cheap disk less Dell 2900 ESXi host but with the recent release of the Xeon E5000 series I am leaning toward another whitebox.

Brief summary of current setup

Whitebox ESXi 3.5 U3 host
6 Active VMs (much slower since recent 2 additions)
Giga-byte M/B, P4 3.2 HT w/ 3.2GB RAM
Adaptec 5805 512MB
1x Intel EXPI9300TBLK 1Gbit
1TB RAID1 WD Blacks
1 74GB RAID0 WD Raptors
4 standalone WD SATAs
VM's and 1TB datastore load balanced over HDDs.

VI and backup server
XP Pro SP3
Athlon64 system, 2GB DDR
Onboard 1Gbit
4x eSATA, 1TB eSATA disk
Veeam FastSCP offline backups

Netgear 8 1Gbps smart switch
2x1500VA APC UPS

New systems

The Openfiler would use the same hardware as my current ESXi host.  I wanted to add an additional Intel dual port PCIe x4 for 2Gbps team but this M/B does not have the slot.  This limits me to 3 separate PCIe x1 Gbit NICs and no team.  

New ESxi 3.5 U4 host

Asus Z8PE-D12 dual 1366 (Extra CPU & RAM scalability)
1 Xeon E5520 2.26Ghz Quad (Awesome VT performance)
12GB DDR3 (Cheap & this is what I desperately need)
Intel EXPI9402PT 1Gbit dual port (primary 2Gbit team w/ SW trunk)
3x Intel EXPI9300TBLK 1Gbit (2x crossover Openfiler, MGT/Backups)
Dual Channel USB flash (Boot ESXi)


1.  With the new ESXi 3.5 U4 release this whitebox build should be compatible?

2.  STD P4 HT with Adaptec 5805 and Intel e1000 NICs should be compatible with Openfiler?

3.  Due to my lack of dual port NICs on the Openfiler SAN, what options do I have to load balance 2 separate crossover connections to the ESX host?

4.  With the older hardware, will the Openfiler SAN be able to keep up to speed with the ESX host?

5.  Would Vlans be ideal for this small environment?

6.  Performance is important and it will be sometime before I can afford another ESX host to use all VI features.  Should I dump the Openfiler idea all together and wait until I can afford a decent system?  Slap the Adaptec 5805 + HDDs in the ESX host as local LUNs and call it good?
 
Thanks for any feedback
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Question by:rhino-gear
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Luciano Patrão earned 250 total points
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Hi

For hardware check this and see if fits to you

http://www.vm-help.com/esx/esx3.5/Whiteboxes_SATA_Controllers_for_ESX_3.5_3i.htm


Jail
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Author Comment

by:rhino-gear
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The website does not going into any detail on new Nehalems in regards to the ESXi compatibility.  I know my Adaptec 5805 is ESXi compatible, as I am currently using it,  but it would be used in the Openfiler iSCSI SAN.
Hoping to get more feedback from people with ESXI + Openfiler experience to find if this is a ideal setup.  Basically, would this environment provide sufficient I/O to the VMs/Datastores to make full use of ESXi on a new Nehalem
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by:larstr
larstr earned 250 total points
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Update4 has native support for Nehalem cpus. The link above is however still quite valid since cpu is rarely the problem when it comes to ESXi. The issues are wether your disk and nic controllers will work.

Lars
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Author Closing Comment

by:rhino-gear
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RAID and NICs are compatible.  I've decided I don't have the budget for shared storage right now but instead put my $$$ toward the Nehalem ESXi host with local disks.  Don't feel the Openfiler would perform as well as local LUNs would.  Also need to learn more on Openfiler before I completely rely on it.  Appreciate your feedback.
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Expert Comment

by:AFIN
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I was just wondering did you ever build this system?  Does it work well for esx?
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Author Comment

by:rhino-gear
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Haven't pulled the trigger yet.  I've been testing Openfiler 2.3 on my existing ESX host.  I'm confident this hardware would work very well for ESX, as would my current ESX hardware for the Openfiler.
If you are interested in Openfiler and/or iSCSI as well, I recommend reading this article on iSCSI and ESX limitations.

http://virtualgeek.typepad.com/virtual_geek/2009/01/a-multivendor-post-to-help-our-mutual-iscsi-customers-using-vmware.html

I found that NIC teaming using IP hash from the ESX host to the openfiler SAN is not the way to go.
Rather define mulitple vlans, each NIC port on its own vlan, assign 1 LUN per iSCSI target, have a few iSCSI targets per vlan/port.

From what I've read, this appears to be the best way to get around ESX limitation for a single TCP connection to a single iSCSI target.  Hope this helps.


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