VM Home Lab disk considerations

Hello experts,

I had to (unexpectedly) upgrade my lab PC because of a MB malfunction. It was over 3 years old so most of the peripherals (except disks) were also replaced/ will be replaced soon.

Since the financial damage is done, I now want to consider a better solution for my hard disks. Remembering my lab work and performance, the troubling part has always been the IOPS when I turn on multiple VMs, I ended up having 2 SATA disks to address that. I also tried external disks (SSD with USB 3 interface) - the results also did not please me, I could only turn on 2 VMs in parallel with less than acceptable performance.

I want to know your thoughts and chosen approaches for this. I am wondering if there's any external chassis you can recommend (or perhaps a PCI card) which I can go for when I need to increase the number of VMs or storage.

Final Note, I am using maximum 10 VMs at a time.

Thank you in advance
bozerAsked:
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cwstad2Commented:
Persoally i wouldn use the USB SSD as there will be a bottleneck there. I've used an internal SSD + SATA and had no problems with a lab of 15 VM's. If you can run the VM's off an internal SSD you shouldnt have a problem
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I would opt for in-expensive SSDs, Samsung 500GB EVO SSDs are not expensive.

Use them in singles, not RAID!

Or consolidate ALL your storage needs into a home build SAN/NAS, this is what we have done, and build 12-24TB NASes, using SSDs for Read and Write cache, using inexpensive disks.
bozerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the comment. I thought about it but then I decided against it because of my work methodology. I can run about 10 VMs in parallel but I have several VMs and I keep adding more when I need them. I am of course moving them to external disks to save my work and studies but it becomes a headache when I need to access them (turn them on) again. That's why, I am wondering a NAS like solution would be a better fit for me.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We moved to a NAS, to consolidate storage, NAS can run CIFS (Windows Shares), NFS (ESXi), and iSCSI.

iSCSI LUNs can easily be added to ESXi, Servers and Workstations, adding storage on demand.

So a small SSD for the OS install, and then all network storage.
bozerAuthor Commented:
Hi Andrew, please tell me more? Of course I'll start googling and reading more about this. But setting aside the articles and reviews I'll be reading, what can you tell me as a NAS user yourself? What should I look out for as a home (VM lab) user? Of course now I started to think about other possibilities (i.e. moving my music library and play the content from NAS if it is possible without PC on)

I am using VMWare Workstation and it will be good to move my physical disks on a NAS and then buy a few additional disks.

Thanks
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You'll need a box, with at least room for 4 disks, these can be slow....5,400 RPM disks, if you are going to use ZFS based system, which uses SSD for Read and Write caching, so this boosts performance....

You'll also need a SAS/SATA Interface card not RAID, because the RAID will be done with software...

see here All-in-one

http://www.napp-it.org/napp-it/all-in-one/index_en.html

We build on HP ProLiant MicroServers see here...

http://andysworld.org.uk/2011/08/25/skynet-ssdsupersan-hp-proliant-microserver-with-a-6-bay-hot-plug-sata-drive-bay/

this box now contains, 4 x 4TB SATA disks, and 6 SSDs used for Cache (and the SSDs are small at 60GB)

16TB RAW SAN in a Low Power Box!

We also use the same boxes, and use for MP3 etc

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bozerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the NAS tips
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