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Configure Storage box for VMware lab setup

Posted on 2011-03-21
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Last Modified: 2013-11-14
Now that my ESXi hosts and vCenter have been setup, I am looking to setup storage for my vSphere home lab.

I may not run more than 8 VMs on the cluster (HA & DTS configured) and typically should be satisfied with a RAID 1 array (2 x 1 TB SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) hard disks).

I am looking for a RAID controller with 2 SATA internal ports that can support either RAID 0 or RAID 1 under $200.

Please let my know your suggestions.
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Question by:vmwarun - Arun
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by:JRoyse
ID: 35180169
I would suggest a second pc for the storage, you can skip the hardware RAID controller if you use a software raid like ZFS on a simple Operating System like Freenas.
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by:Michael-Best
ID: 35180451
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by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 35181953
JRoyse - Thanks for replying. I guess Openfiler would be the right candidate in that case.
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by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 35195657
Anyone else with suggestion ?

I am planning to go for a PCI-Express slot based RAID Controller which can support either RAID 0 or RAID 1.

Is it good to go with a PCI-Express based RAID controller which supports Raid 0 & 1 or a PCI based RAID controller which can support RAID 0,1 and 5 ?
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 200 total points
ID: 35197416
I use a laptop with windows plus Starwind target demo on it for iSCSI test, pretty easy to setup.
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by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 35198831
@andyalder - I guess they offer a 30 day eval after which we have to procure a license for continuing to use it. Please correct me if my assumptions are wrong.
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 200 total points
ID: 35199800
I'm afraid so, there used to be a free workstation version but it looks like they don't supply that any more, still, it's useful for test.
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by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 35201023
I am planning to build a storage whitebox with Promise FastTrak TX4650 RAID Controller and configure RAID 0 or 1 with Seagate 1 TB 7200 RPM SATA II (3 Gb/s) hard disks. I am planning to install openfiler on it and use NFS & iSCSI datastore.

Should this suffice ?
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by:JRoyse
JRoyse earned 100 total points
ID: 35206567
I would honestly buy a compact flash to IDE adapter (stick a 1GB compact flash in the adapter, then boot from IDE to it).  Freenas could boot off this.  Just use software raid and skip the raid controller- you don't need it.  You can do RAID 0 or 1 with software.
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robincm earned 200 total points
ID: 35206779
Should be ok but really it depends what you're planning to do with the VMs, what the concurrency and throughput/bandwidth of load will be etc.
If it's just for home use for playing about with it'll probably be acceptable but without you being able to specify load nobody can tell you if it'll be able to deliver.
SATA disks are not great for random IO, also iSCSI over 1GBe will give you about 60-100MB/s. NFS is actually quite nasty from a storage point of view for hosting VMs on - it's a file storage system but what you really need is a block storage system. Gives other benefits though, so if you don't need the performance it's not such a bad trade off.
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by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 35220958

This storage whitebox is for running about 6-8 VMs on a vSphere home lab setup with 2 ESXi v4.1 whiteboxes as well. I will be storing ISOs on NFS mounts and iSCSI for storing VMs and templates.

vCenter will be running as a virtual machine.

Openfiler will be installed on the volume after either RAID 0 or RAID 1 is configured.

I have decided to go with Promise RAID controller, FastTrak TX4650 which supports RAID 0,1,5 and 10 and uses a PCI-Express x1 connector on the motherboard.

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by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 35245425
I spoke to the Promise Tech Support Representative who confirmed that FastTrak TX4650 is a hardware RAID controller but he was unable to confirm that Openfiler could detect the RAID 1 volume.

Hence I have decided to buy Iomega StorCenter ix2-200d 1 TB since its VMware certified for NAS and iSCSI.

iOmega StorCenter ix2-200d

Thanks to everyone for their responses.
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