Does nesting ESXi negate the hardware compatibility requirements?

quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 195
I've been spending a few days looking at the VMware HCL, checking prices on Ebay, and doing a little bit of research on home lab servers. According to the HCL there are only certain servers that can run ESXi version 6.0. When I was talking to my cousin he mentioned nesting ESXi in Hyper-V. That got me thinking, I've got two ESXi 6.0 servers nested in VMware Workstation on my desktop computer at home. Since it's custom built there's no model or anything, but I narrowed it down by my CPU type. According to the HCL, I shouldn't even be able to run ESXi 6.0 on my CPU (which I am). Unless I'm missing something, it seems like nesting ESXi negated what was stated in the HCL. So could I just nest all my hosts in Hyper-V and buy whichever server I want?

Hopefully this makes a little bit of sense. xD

Comments

  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GDSA, GRID, GICSP, GCIP, GXPN, GPEN, GWAPT, GCFE, GCIA, GCIH, GSEC, Pen+, CySA+, Sec+, N+, A+, eJPT Member Posts: 1,315 ■■■■■■■■■□
    The HCL is what VMware will officially support for production environments when you call into VMware Support.

    ESXi will run on all sorts of hardware that isnt listed in the HCL. Unless you plan on calling VMware Support for your home lab issues I wouldn't be overly concerned with whats on the HCL. Certainly check it out if you are purchasing hardware and want know compatibility but looking at it after the fact for home lab purposes is kinda pointless.
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  • quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 195
    Well I feel silly. I had no idea, I thought it flat out wouldn't install. The study material I used for the VCP hammered it in to make sure your hardware matches HCL, so I just assumed that meant it wouldn't work.

    Luckily I haven't purchased anything yet. This opens up a lot of new options. Thanks!
  • TheProfTheProf Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 331 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Agreed with iBrokeIT. I am actually running a couple of whiteboxes (custom build servers for ESXi) with ESXi 6.0. If you're looking to build a lab, I would recommend you do some research on what bloggers are using as their home labs. You'll see a trend where people tend to take the risk of buying hardware that is not so much on the HCL, but still works correctly for lab purposes.

    As iBrokeIT explained already, the HCL is for support purposes, as in if your production workload is impacted by a hardware issue or a software issue, VMware will be able to give you support if you call in.

    Also, keep in mind, that just because something is not "currently" support (listed in HCL) it doesn't always mean it wont work. It just means that sometimes VMware has not got around to testing the hardware. Other times, it wont be support at all.

    HCL is important to reference for production workloads, but for labbing, you can get away with a lot more :)
  • quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 195
    Good advice! I was planning to build a PC to act as a server but the prices for older servers seems to be much lower than anything I could build. Probably going to do like you said and see what others are using. I've heard good things about the PowerEdge 2950-III, but I'm not sure if the noise will be an issue.
  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GDSA, GRID, GICSP, GCIP, GXPN, GPEN, GWAPT, GCFE, GCIA, GCIH, GSEC, Pen+, CySA+, Sec+, N+, A+, eJPT Member Posts: 1,315 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Exactly!

    As a professional VMware Admin I would never recommend a company buy and operate hardware that isn't on the HCL for the ESXi version they are running. Think of the HCL as VMware's software guarantee that your setup will work and if not they will assist you in troubleshooting the issue.

    As a home labber I could care less about the HCL and I will do what ever works (and within your budget). For example I run x3 1U Asus servers with 32GB of RAM and ESXi 6.0 which are no where to be found on the HCL.
    2019: GPEN | GCFE | GXPN | GICSP | CySA+ 
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  • quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 195
    Ah, gotchya. That's good to know. Do you have any suggestions for a home lab server in the $500 price range? I planned on getting one and nesting my vCenter server and a few ESXi hosts in Hyper-V.
  • PristonPriston Member Posts: 999 ■■■■□□□□□□
  • jibbajabbajibbajabba Member Posts: 4,317 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Also check out prices for the Dell R710 and T5500 ... Up to Dual 55xx / 56xx socket and 144 - 196GB RAM, depending on budget. The T5500 starts as single socket, 6 DIMM machine but can be extended to dual socket with 9 slots. The R710 has two sockets and 16 slots. The T5500 is a tower, the R710 rackmount and can be remotely controlled via iDRAC
    My own knowledge base made public: http://open902.com :p
  • jibbajabbajibbajabba Member Posts: 4,317 ■■■■■■■■□□
    And yes both run ESXi 6 nested just fine and do so since early Beta :)
    My own knowledge base made public: http://open902.com :p
  • BornToBeMildBornToBeMild Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Ah, gotchya. That's good to know. Do you have any suggestions for a home lab server in the $500 price range? I planned on getting one and nesting my vCenter server and a few ESXi hosts in Hyper-V.

    A word of caution. Nesting ESXi under Hyper-V is problematic, and even when working won't allow you to run 64 bit nested guests. See the following thread:

    https://communities.vmware.com/thread/427502?start=0&tstart=0

    Nested ESXi under ESXi is a lot simpler to set up, and works great. For my VCP5 lab I have 3 x ESXi 5.5, vCentre and AD + iSCSI, plus a couple of nested VMs running on ESXi 6 which installed fine on a Lenovo TS140 with 32GB. You can even emulate SSDs for vSAN.
  • quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 195
    A word of caution. Nesting ESXi under Hyper-V is problematic, and even when working won't allow you to run 64 bit nested guests. See the following thread:

    https://communities.vmware.com/thread/427502?start=0&tstart=0

    Nested ESXi under ESXi is a lot simpler to set up, and works great. For my VCP5 lab I have 3 x ESXi 5.5, vCentre and AD + iSCSI, plus a couple of nested VMs running on ESXi 6 which installed fine on a Lenovo TS140 with 32GB. You can even emulate SSDs for vSAN.

    So would I install ESXi on my server and then put everything else on top as VMs? Or use VMware Workstation on the server? I'm really trying to get away with one server for right now until I can get money for another one or two.

    @ Priston & JibbaJabba I'll take a look at those. The R710 looks like a good option, lots of room to expand.
  • jibbajabbajibbajabba Member Posts: 4,317 ■■■■■■■■□□
    @ Priston & JibbaJabba I'll take a look at those. The R710 looks like a good option, lots of room to expand.

    The beauty is - you can use onboard diskspace for local or backup storage

    For example - I use a Synology loaded with SSDs as main storage - and my local storage as backup (using dedicated Raid, not fake raid) - although I think speedwise there isn't much in it.

    e9t3mNR.png
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  • BornToBeMildBornToBeMild Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
    So would I install ESXi on my server and then put everything else on top as VMs? Or use VMware Workstation on the server? I'm really trying to get away with one server for right now until I can get money for another one or two.

    Yes, ESXi on the server. You can get a free hypervisor license from VMware. You will need a separate windows PC to manage the server with the vSphere client. If you intend to run a lab on one server disk congestion can be an issue. Use as many spindles as you can RAID, or ideally SSD.
  • kj0kj0 Member Posts: 767
    I paid $600 for my desktop computer to be my ESXi nested whitebox. I bought an AMD 6300+ (6 cores) and 32Gb of standard DDR3 RAM. I have an old Hard 160Gb hard drive that has the base ESXI and then mounted again as the local datastore to hold the 2 nested hypervisor VMs (I don't touch the base Hyper visors afterwards, the 2 VMs are set to start automatically) -
    I will probably get a second one just before tax time so i can expand a bit more, but it does everything I need.

    -The only issue I had was that the Mobo had a realtek NIC which ESXi 6.0 blacklisted the drivers for, I did a fair amount of searching and found a newer driver which I just needed to add to the ISO. All turned out well.


    I also have a 9 year old computer with 2Gb RAM running as my SAN at the moment with openfiler, I'm about to build a new one which was a spare computer my brother-in-law had. SANs don't need much, but enough disk for some performance and storage.
    2017 Goals: VCP6-DCV | VCIX
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  • quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 195
    Good advice and lots to consider! I've got an older computer I could use for a SAN for something. Are you talking about the evaluation license or something else?
  • jdancerjdancer Member Posts: 482 ■■■■□□□□□□
    As others said, HCL is for production support. Home labs who cares. I run nested ESXi on an ASRock motherboard. Just be sure you have plenty of RAM and a big SSD.
  • quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 195
    @BornToBeMild I'll have to check that out. Thanks!
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