Setting up VMWare host on > 2TB Partition

Hi,
 
 I purchased a new rack server box (with Intel R2208WTTYS chassis, Intel S2600WT Server MB,  Intel RS3DC080 RAID controller - equivalent to LSI 9300 MegaRAID SAS 9361-8i) with the intention of installing ESXi V6.1.
 The computer came with 128GB of RAM and Qty. 11 SAS HDs. I am going to set up RAID 10 with 1 hot spare, generating effective HD space of about 3TB.

 My question is if there is anything that I need to aware of prior to installing ESXi V6.1 on this host?
 Since the total HD space available to the datastore would be greater than 2TB, I wonder if it creates an issue ... I don't think so, but just wanted to make sure.

Thanks.
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sgleeAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Not really, do yourself a favour, and make the install easier and

1. install ESXi 6.x on a USB flash drive or SD card.
2. create a RAID 10 Array using all your disks. and use this entirely as a single datastore.
3. 2TB-512bytes maximum size datastores are no longer an issues since 5.1, certainly no issues in 6.x.

do not mix the ESXi OS and datastore on the same RAID array or disks.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the advise. I have another question.
When I set up Windows Servers on any server hardware, I have to install drivers ranging from RAID controller prior to OS install all the way to Chipset, LAN, built-in SATA controller, video ... etc after OS install.
Why is it that I do not have to do any of those when I install ESXi maybe except providing RAID controller driver? When I create VMs, all the device drivers are loaded already.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Because Guest VMs use generic virtual hardware, and the OS has drivers for this generic virtual hardware.

As for the ESXi OS, it has a small footprint, and limited driver support, so again you must be lucky, with the whitebox, e.g. non-HCL server.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
You mentioned "install ESXi 6.x on a USB flash drive or SD card."
What size of USB flash drive is adequate? I have used 4GB for V5.5, but not sure about V6.
Also if I use say 8GB flash drive and later transfer the contents to 4GB flash drive, is that possible?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
4GB should be suitable, but we use good quality 8GB or 16GB flash drives.

It is possible to transfer the contents from a USB drive, from one to another, but this is NOT supported by VMware.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
What happens if an existing usb flash drive go bad?
At least if you set up ESX on RAID partition, you get redundancy.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We've been installing ESXi to USB flash drives and SD cards since 2004, and we've not had a flash failure as yet. (in production!).

Also remember that the ESXi OS, is only read on boot, and then goes memory resident, how often do you boot your ESXi OS ? So the USB failure, will only occur, or you'll notice at BOOT or restart, if it fails, whilst server is up with VMs, nothing happens! (e.g. VMs don't fail or ESXi)

Flash are used in most Cisco routers, which "control the internet", and don't fail.

You are not going to be using the USB flash drive, and inserting it, in and out of the server, like you would normally....

Production quality servers, no have dual mirrored SD cards for this issue, if it occurs.

If a USB flash drive fails, or goes bad, yes ESXi will fail to BOOT, take a new USB flash drive, re-install, and you'll be up and running within 30 minutes.

ESXi on RAID spinny disks, you may get redundancy, if a disk fails, but also I've seen RAID sets fail completely, when they rebuild, because the disks are of the same age, and rebuild put disks under I/O pressure, so make sure you purchase disks, from different batches, and purchase, disks, weeks apart.

Also, if you want to expand datastores, it can be awkward, if using ESXi OS, on the same set of RAID disks.

For us, USB or SD card all the time.

if you do want to backup, see my EE Article.

How to Backup an ESXi installation on an USB Flash Drive or SD card, for security or redundancy.

If using 5.x or 6.x, please use the USB imaging tool.

http://www.alexpage.de/usb-image-tool/
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
You mentioned - "If a USB flash drive fails, or goes bad, yes ESXi will fail to BOOT, take a new USB flash drive, re-install, and you'll be up and running within 30 minutes."

Are you saying that I can  re-create boot usb drive anytime that I want without erasing what is on the raid partition?

It sounds so unfamiliar compared to Windows OS. If WIndows OS fails to boot (due to BSOD for example), either you can attempt a repair or re-install OS with installation CD. If you have to re-install, you basically wipe out the previous install.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Are you saying that I can  re-create boot usb drive anytime that I want without erasing what is on the raid partition?

Correct, when you re-install ESXi, it will detect an existing VMFS partition (where the VMs are stored), and prompt you if you want to Overwrite! It will state Preserve! and you select Yes.

It sounds so unfamiliar compared to Windows OS. If WIndows OS fails to boot (due to BSOD for example), either you can attempt a repair or re-install OS with installation CD. If you have to re-install, you basically wipe out the previous install.

Correct, Windows is very outdated! It will catch up one day!
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
That is great! I have  a few VMware hosts with usb flash drives and did not know how to duplicate them. I will simply re-create them then.
And I agree that WIndows has some catching up to do. As usb flash drives become bigger in size, more affordable in price, faster with usb 3.0, maybe someday we would be able to store Windows OS on usb flash drive and boot from it.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Windows Nano, (Windows 2016) may allow you to do that!
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Thanks.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Fyi, I learned from VMware sale rep. today that I could purchase renewal from vSphere Essentials V5 for $100 and it will come with the license key for vSphere Essentials V6.
If that is the case, can I go ahead and download vSphere V6.01 from VMware website, install it for now and add V6 license key later once I receive it from the sales rep?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If you have valid Support and Subscription, you will be entitled to obtain vSphere 6.0 licenses.

Fyi, I learned from VMware sale rep. today that I could purchase renewal from vSphere Essentials V5 for $100 and it will come with the license key for vSphere Essentials V6.
If that is the case, can I go ahead and download vSphere V6.01 from VMware website, install it for now and add V6 license key later once I receive it from the sales rep?

Yes, that is correct. Any other info, does require a new question!
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Thank you.
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