ESXi Configuration

We're a relatively small organization and looking to consolidate four servers into an ESXi 4.0 install.  I've purchased a Dell R710 with the following specs...
(2) 2.66 Xeon Processors
24GB 1333MHz Ram
(6) 500GB SATA Drives

I've been reading quite a bit of information about the optimium setup for a VMware box but I've noticed some inconsistencies.

RAID Setup :
It is possible to support RAID 0 - 50 on our card?  I have been considering RAID 50 because although the storage takes a hit the read/write performance makes it a better choice.  Is this correct? Or should I split up the drives into multiple RAID configuration?

Your thoughts woud be much appreciated,

Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
If you're a small shot and don't have a server that need a lot of I/O then RAID5 would work just as well.  I would suggest that you create two partitions so that the OS would go on one partition and the datastore on the second one. This is because if you install ESXi on the entire array you would only have a 1MB block size and thus max. partition of 256GB.

I would create 5x500GB (with hot spare) array RAID5 with multiple volumes for datastores.  If you have some high IOPS VMs than create a 2x500 raid1 and 4x500 datastore for normal VMs with a global hot spare.

Your limit is the type of drives you have since most SATA drives are 7200RPM you're not going to get the best performance and the more drives in the array the better the performance.  
If you do not need more than 1TB of storage for your VMs, I would suggest the following configuration to maximize read/write (mostly write) performance and still have redundancy in your array.  I prefer to have all my spindles in use rather than dedicating a drive as a hot spare.

2x500GB (RAID1) for VMware OS
4x500GB (RAID10) for VMs
chris_thornAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the comments.  I'm actually running the ESXi from a USB memory stick.  I thought this was the perferred configuration and the R710 server makes this incredibly easy.  Should I change this and install the ESXi to the actual drives?

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
The usb stick should work, the only issue I have with them is lack of raid.  If you have a spare stick on standby it should be ok, it's personal preference.

One recommendation is that VMware is holding a special where you can get vSphere Essentials with up to 3 ESX/ESXi hosts and vCenter for $500 which includes 1 year of support.  For what you paid on the Dell it's a good ivestment and just the reporting out of vCenter is worth the price.  The added benefit of support if issues arise is something usefull if you want to sleep at night.  

Right now it's $500 which is 50% off for a few months


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Those acceleration kits that VMware sells is a great way to get started as noted by paulsolov.  I definitely do not recommend running VMware ESXi/ESX from a memory stick because they are known to fail and do not provide you any redundancy.

At the very minimum you should have ESXi/ESX running on a RAID 1.  Should ESXi/ESX lose connectivity with the memory stick, you'll notice it will start locking up as what happened in my case.  One of my ESX4 hosts showed online but I could not perform any tasks on VMs running on that host (including vMotion).  I noticed for some odd reason my RAID1 where the ESX4 hypervisor was installed was not responding.  Although this is a rare case where your array does not respond, it simply states that the drives hosting the hypervisor must be active for you to avoid any issues.  Also, you don't want your memory key to go bad and then lose your host configuration.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Microsoft Server OS

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.