Hardware Questions for VMware

stryder144stryder144 Posts: 1,544Member ■■■■■■■□□□
For those who've gone through the class or who have completed their certification for VCP, I have a hardware question or two.

A friend of mine purchased a used Dell PowerEdge 1950 Gen II server. It has two quad-core 2.0 ghz Xeon e5335 processors, 24 GB of RAM, and one 36 GB and one 146 GB SAS drives. Since I have a part-time job fixing computers, he has asked me to do two things for him: 1. Make sure everything works correctly (only thing it needs right now is a Perc 5i battery) and 2. test it out with VMware or Citrix to see how well it does. Unfortunately, I have never worked on a legit server before, only consumer computers.

Background: he purchased the server since he heard about the Stanly CC class and wants to use it for studying/labbing, once he gets into the class. I've looked at the exam objectives and done some googling but can't really find a solid answer to these questions. To that end, I have a few questions to ask:

My primary question is this, can I install ESXi/vSphere on the 36 GB drive and use the 146 GB drive for the VMs? Should I talk to him about putting two identical drives in the server and set it up for RAID? Does it even matter? Lastly, he is thinking about adding two more sticks of RAM to the server, in order to max it out to 32 GB. Is it necessary or is it the "coolness" factor at play?

Thanks in advance.
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Comments

  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    Good questions.

    1. Install ESXi to a USB stick to save the drive. Yes, you can do this.
    2. Dont RAID the drives. This is just a lab and since hardware is very limited just use the drives on their own.
    3. Since he's only just "playing" with the system, just install ESXi and build a few VM's to get the feel of things. Put 1-2 VM's on the smaller drive and perhaps 3-4 on the other.

    The system in its current config wont be fast and your most limiting factor will be disk. You'll get by with the RAM and surely the CPU. Sure enough, you can max the RAM out, but I'd plonk my money on a disk or three first, then RAM. Makes sense?
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  • stryder144stryder144 Posts: 1,544Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Definitely makes sense to me. Thank you for the input. Glad to hear that he didn't waste his cash.

    You mention that the limiting factor will be the disks. Is it the SAS throughput that is limiting things? Each drive is 15k RPM, which seems fairly fast, to me, though I am not used to server tech. Since the server only allows for two disks to be installed internally, should he invest in an external NAS/SAN drive array? Would having a NAS/SAN array make any sense, for the VCP exam? He has mentioned being interested in the EMC/NetApp class from the Dallas County CC, would an array assist with that class? Just spit-balling.
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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  • tprice5tprice5 Posts: 770Member
    stryder144 wrote: »
    My primary question is this, can I install ESXi/vSphere on the 36 GB drive and use the 146 GB drive for the VMs?

    ESXi only has a foot print of a few gigs. If you want to sacrifice the remainder of that drive 36GB drive, then go for it. Otherwise, just purchase a small 8GB micro USB for the OS. If it's an SSD I would save it for deploying a couple server OSs on. If it's HDD then the space lost is almost negligible in the grand scheme.
    stryder144 wrote: »
    Should I talk to him about putting two identical drives in the server and set it up for RAID? Does it even matter?

    Being so green to VMware/ESXi I would forego RAID entirely. I know software RAID is not supported. I've no experience with hardware raid as it relates to hypervisors but from what I have read it can get pretty tricky. Best to leave it out for now as it introduces unnecessary complexity from an introductory standpoint.
    stryder144 wrote: »
    Lastly, he is thinking about adding two more sticks of RAM to the server, in order to max it out to 32 GB. Is it necessary or is it the "coolness" factor at play?

    If it makes sense from a cost perspective then do it. You can quickly consume all available resources when it comes to RAM on an ESXi host. It is usually the first bottle neck in terms of resource usage. Next you need to ensure you have an adequate number of hard drivers. Just because you can fit 15 VMs on a single 2TB HDD doesn't mean you should. Think about all 12 OSs writing to the same HDD at the same time.


    Best of luck.
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  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    A 15k disk with one VM on it wont be that slow, but when you put multiple VM's on the same disk you'll see a performance hit. Another thing to keep in mind is to make all VM disks thin. This will conserve space, dont get carried away though because though you could pile on more VM's but that means more writes to the same disk and things slow down faster. Keep a balance is what I mean.
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  • stryder144stryder144 Posts: 1,544Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Great explanations, gentlemen. Thank you. I will show him this thread and let him make a decision. If I'm not mistaken, he has already ordered the battery and may have ordered more RAM. I will discourage the RAID setup unless he decides to get into something else that would need it.

    Cheers
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    stryder144 wrote: »
    He has mentioned being interested in the EMC/NetApp class from the Dallas County CC, would an array assist with that class? Just spit-balling.
    The labs on the EMC/NetApp class just use OpenFiler to demonstrate the RAID process, I'm only half way through the course so I can't speak about the NetApp labs yet. I would think it would be overkill for that course.
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