VMware ESXi 3.5 and my home network experience

I recently got a decommissioned HP ML 350 G3 server to use for my VMware ESXi 3.5 environment at home. I have been bumping into a couple of challenges with it. Even though the server is supported according to their hardware specs, some of the stuff I am trying to attach doesn’t seem to be. I am trying to build this environment with only equipment I have, not purchasing anything. First off, here is the existing server configuration:

  • Dual Xeon 2.8 Processors
  • 4 Gigs of memory
  • About a 280gig RAID5 partition (with hot swap drives)

Server works fine as is, but I really wanted to add more external disk space so I could house images on a separate drive array, plus want to setup a backup routine as well (another article on that later). As I have been finding out with VMware ESXi, there are certain challenges, one big one being hardware. It seems VMware has taken the approach that it will support only newer Server hardware, which is fine if you are buying new stuff, but not fine if you are doing the piece meal approach like myself. One of things I would like to attach is a SCSI drive tower box with 6, 72 gig drives and I wanted to do a RAID5 configuration for backup/storage.  After about a week of trying different SCSI cards I had laying around at home and extra from work, I was finally able to get one to work, but the drive array itself was not stable and literally took 48 hours to format a RAID5 partition!  So back to the drawing board for the external storage.

I found somebody that was willing to buy my 72gig drives for about $50/piece, and I had 8 of them.  So after some paypal exchanges I had some extra cash to get my drive array.  I went and found an Adaptec 2410SA SATA RAID card on ebay, and 2 500gig SATA II drives over at newegg.com, all for a reasonable price.  So I went against what I wanted to do originally and not buy anything, but since I was able to sell the unusable SCSI drives, I was able to purchase what I needed and actually had a few bucks left over.  Nice!

Now I am in the process of testing out the external mirror array, I am putting on it the latest beta of Windows 7.  So far it seems to be working OK.  I also started to load a Windows 2008 image to see how it works out.

Now, if I could only find 2gig chips so I could get this server up to 8 gigs of RAM (well, I did find them, but at about $150 a stick).  4 gigs works, but I can tell the performance hit when I have too many VMs running on it.

Hey, at least the price has been right.