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VMWARE ESXi 5

Hello Experts,

I would like to start using ESXi 5 from VMWARE and i'm fairly new to VMWARE products but do understand the basics. I have an HP ProLiant ML350 G6 Server with 12GB RAM and I have a total of 5 146GB 10K SAS HD's. The first question I have is would it be better to RAID all my current 5 HDD's now into a single RAID 5 and then as i purchase more HDD's add those to the RAID? If not what is your recommendation.

Also, is ESXi 5 free and if so how can I find it to download? My server supports 64bit hardware. I also plan on using it for testing but would like to install Win 2008R2 with DNS/AD on one VM and then SQL on another VM if you Experts think thats a good idea.

Thanks in advance!!!
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asp_net2
Asked:
asp_net2
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2 Solutions
 
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If you want the fastest performance datastore for your ESXi 5 datastore use RAID 10, this is the fastest performaning RAID array for Read and Write performance, also to increase write performance, you could use a BBWC (battery backup write cache module), and configure it using Smart Start Array Configuraqtion Utilities for 75% Write and 25% Read.

Otherwise RAID 5 is also good, but not as fast as RAID 10.

VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi 5.0) is available for download here

https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/index.php?p=free-esxi5&lp=default
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If in the future, you purchase additional disks, (more disk, more spindles = more performance), you can possibly Expand the Array, onto these new disks.
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coolsport00Commented:
RAID 5 would certainly be fine, but as mentioned above, if you're needing a higher performance, go with RAID10; but keep in mind, when/if you do so, you lose 2 disks, not just 1. I run SQL 2K5 on a RAID1 LUN actually, but have also run it in a RAID 5 with no problems, and I'm a SMB. Since your drives are only 146GBs, you won't run into a datastore limitation, but virtual disk size and datastore/LUN block size lwill be something you may need to keep in mind. If you wanna create a virtual disk size of:
256GB or less => 1MB Datastore block size
512GB or less => 2MB "
1TB     or less => 4MB "
2TB     or less => 8MB "

Now, if you're installing your ESXi on the SAME disks/RAID as that your datastore will also be on, you don't have the opportunity to choose the block size. See here to do so: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1012683. It would actually be better for you to install ESXi on USB, then save your disks solely for datastore storage. See: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1020655, for USB install help.

vSphere 5 Documentation:
http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-pubs.html

It's good your host is 64bit, but remember that to install a 64bit Virtual Machine, you need to enable Intel-VT or AMD-V (CPU virtual technology in the BIOS).

Hope that helps.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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coolsport00Commented:
If you do install ESXi on SD card, once it's all configured & setup, you can make a copy of the USB for backup. Mr. @hanccocka above wrote an article on how to do so:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/A_5409-How-to-Backup-an-ESXi-installation-on-an-USB-Flash-Drive-or-SD-card-for-security-or-redundancy.html
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
@coolsport00: tut tut! (more swotting required for VCP5!)

VMFS-5 Enhancements. Unified 1MB File Block Size.

Unified 1MB File Block Size. Previous versions of VMFS used 1,2,4 or 8MB file blocks. These larger blocks were needed to create large files (>256GB). These large blocks are no longer needed for large files on VMFS-5. Very large files can now be created on VMFS-5 using 1MB file blocks.

Source
http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2011/07/new-vsphere-50-storage-features-part-1-vmfs-5.html
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coolsport00Commented:
Ooops. Thanks for the reminder bud :)
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coolsport00Commented:
Just forgot...you know...old age ;)
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asp_net2Author Commented:
@hanccocka and @coolsport00:

Please bare with me, still learning about vmware products and methods used to create/manage VM's. Is ESXi 5 free to use, will it expire at some point?

Also, is RAID10 standard? How many drives are at least needed to create RAID10? Will I only loose one drive if I use RAID 5 and RAID10?

If I have a total of either 3 - 5 drives and then install RAID5 or RAID10 and I add drives later down the road can I just add more disk space to each of the VM's that I create?

Also, big question, most important. Should I use all drives as one BIG RAID and then carve out VM's based on the total size? I will need to create a logical disk in the Array Configuration Utility from HP and assign all drives to one big logical drive and then assign the RAID there but was not sure if that is recommened.
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coolsport00Commented:
It is free to use; at the download page (after you log-on & accept the EULA), you get presented with a license code. You can use that code on up to 999 ESXi hosts...forever; no expiration. IF, by chance, you want to test out all the features of ESXi (HA, VMotion, DRS, etc...), don't enter the key/code. You will then have 60days to 'eval' the product.

RAID10 is not necessarily the 'standard', but it does provided the best performance, if that is your goal. You need at least 4 drives, 2 of which will be used for the RAID itself and NOT storage. You only lose 1 drive for RAID5. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

How many VMs do you plan on creating? From what I see, at least at this point, only 2? First of all, if you're able to do so, it's always best to 'not have all your eggs in 1 basket'. In other words, not all your VMs on 1 datastore...for a couple reasons. If something happens to your 1 datastore, all your VMs could be down as well. If you disperse VMs across datastores, you have the opportunity to have at least some VMs still up/running. Second, if you have multiple high I/O VMs, dispersing those VMs across separate datastores will also help with performance, in addtion to setting appropriate RAID'ing.

Hope that helps.

~coolsport00
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
More disks, more spindles = more  performance!

ESXi 5.0 is a free download, you just need to register for a free license key.

RAID 10 - minimum 4 disks, supports 1 failure (even disks only, 4,6,8 etc)
RAID 5 - minimum 3 disks, supports 1 failure.

Personally, and it's personally choice, we create large RAID 10 arrays, and then carve up the logical drives into 500 - 800GB chunks (datastores for use with VMs).

Later you can add disks, and expand Arrays, andf Logical Drives.
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asp_net2Author Commented:
Ok, I'm only going to be able to do a RAID5. I don't need that much room nor will I ever. But I was not sure what/how I should assign drive space to each VM. But I'm going to assume that when I create a VM it will list the total drive size I have since all drives will be in a RAID5 setup as one logical drive and then I can carve out the space I need per VM. Does that sound right?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, exactly.You specify the size of the virtual disk, when you create the VMs, do not get carried away, it's always easier to add to a VM, than take away!

We always create skinny drives, e.g. 12GB for WIn2k3, 40GB WIn2k8, and we expand if required.
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asp_net2Author Commented:
Thank you VERY MUCH for your input.
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