ESXi 5 home lab

Hi,

I want to run 2 ESXi 5 servers connected to a ISCSI san-storage.I'm thinking of buying a Synology with raid 5 for that, so I can use it for other stuff too + I'm familiar with it.

What is important:
-ESXi compatible
-silent
-remote access card since no screens will be attached and servers will run in attic
-I prefer two smaller ESX-es then 1 big one, I thought about 2 CPU, 4 cores and about 16 GB of ram or more
-I would like to boot from an usb-stick, never done it, but the esx should have a usb-slot (which usb stick is best to use?)


Note: I already have an HP Microserver but the machine is so terribly slow (please do not give tips to improve this, I already did).

Just figuring out what hardware to buy, some of you guys probably have this kind of lab @home, any input is welcome.

J.
janhoedtAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Are you wanting to build a whitebox or purchase branded HCL Dell or HP.

Good Quality USB flash drives are recommended HP, Sandisk, PNY. (4GB).

How about the HP ML110 or ML115 (but these are not very quiet)?

Or the new HP Micxroserver AMD’s Turion II Neo N54L processor – a dual-core chip, clocking in at 2.2GHz, or you do not like Microservers!
.
(we have many many ProLiant MicroServers for our labs, and they work perfectly, quiet and low power, 40 watts - but you don't want to talk about them! - they replaced DL385s and DL585s).
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Also, a note is your attic hot in summer?
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janhoedtAuthor Commented:
I d go for the brands. My microserver is a pain in the ass. Quite but limited to 8Gb and slow.
1 small business server is all I can run.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
The issue with any brand, Dell or HP, tower or rack, is they will not be quiet.
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janhoedtAuthor Commented:
What would you suggest then, given the rac card I need + I really dont want to make a machine myself.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
ML110 or ML115
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IanThCommented:
it not hard just follow the whitebox hcl's for specifc motherboards nics hdd controllers
just follow for v4 as v5 there is no real different as they are both 64bit
see
http://www.vm-help.com//esx40i/esx40_whitebox_HCL.php

I used a intel 5520 server board with a xeon s1366 cpu for one of my home vsphere 5 lab ( it used to run v4 )
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janhoedtAuthor Commented:
Ok, the whitebox hcl, but what bout rac then?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
That the difficult requirement to fill, apart from iLO and DRAC, Im not sure of many other remote solutions.
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millardjkCommented:
Because it's a home lab, hit eBay for something like the Dell PowerEdge 2950 gen III. It can go up to 64GB (but that's mighty expensive) and you can find some pretty stellar Quad Xeon setups for relatively cheap.

I recently upgraded my lab to a pair of PE2950 w/E5345 (no disk, no ram) for $400. Another $1800 for 32GB RAM in each, plus $500 for a pair of used PERC6/i controllers and I'm back in business: Enterprise-class hardware (on the HCL, no less) for about $3K.

I'll turn around and eBay the old hosts for a couple hundred bucks, and all is groovy. I did the KVM-over-IP some time ago so that I wouldn't have to dedicate any on-host resources to DRAC; and really, remote access isn't an issue once ESXi is up-and-running.
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IanThCommented:
I aquired 2 perc 6i controllers for my home lab as well which are proper mid range for $350 and mine too cost about £3000 although I also included a pc for openfiler for iscsi

why do you need a drac or ilo

if you require remote wake use wake on lan but beware most home routers this is neraly imposible unless you have a bit better than a basic router as mine a draytek 8220 allows wake on lan to be setup whereas most free routers require telnet as you need to setup a persistant wol as I found by setting it up most routers forget the wol so it needs to be setup through telnet
and a port forward for wol
but after finding out all that I found out it is probably better to have a low power pc always on to do wake on lan via software like emco wake on lan for windows
see
http://emcosoftware.com/wake-on-lan
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IanThCommented:
just beware going on ebay for xeon servers as you need a 64bit server for v5 and some like a hp dl580 g2 which is multi cpu server only ruins v3.5 as its a 32bit server not a 64bit server
and all the ebay sellars know a v4/v5 server is a lot more than a v3.5 server
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
actually its easier than that anything earlier than HP G5 in Intel HP 0 series is scrap, and not suitable!

HP 5 series, G1 or later is suitable!
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IanThCommented:
its better to follow the whitebox hcls I found
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We base our conclusions on experience, as a HP shop!
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janhoedtAuthor Commented:
And you suggest a HP shop will be objective in "their experience" .... Don't think they will, at the end all they want to sell you a HP.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Not true, we don't sell HP kit!

We purchase HP kit for our Datacentres!

Why would I tell you G1 AMD and G5 Intel work, if I was selling, I would tell you to purchase a G7!
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
"HP Shop" as it we use HP. Not we Sell HP!

We don't box shift!
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We still use G1 AMD 385 and 585 in the Datacentre for ESXi 5.1, long since retired, not on the HCL, but that's because HP/VMware have no interest in certifying old kit, because they want you to purchase new every 2-3 years!
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millardjkCommented:
The trick to finding the right HP or Dell boxes on eBay is to look for the CPU on top of the server model itself. I come from a Dell shop (again, this refers to a data enter that is standardized on the brand, not that we resell the brand), so I know which models have the needed support for vSphere 5 in the same way @hanccocka knows his HP gear.

Both brands have stellar reputations in the VMware community, and while there are plenty of reasons to build a white box lab, you may learn some additional marketable skills by picking brand-name gear instead. Much of the eBay kit is off-lease from large refresh, so they're new enough to run v5 well, old enough to be affordable, and still installed in many, many places. Experience with Enterprise gear may be a bullet point on your resume that lets you beat a competitor for a new position.

The white-box HCL guide is a great resource for parts-specs in your search, whether you're looking at name-brand or not.

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