So I’m in the mood to upgrade my virtual server. Right now it’s running some Phenom II Quadcore with 8GB of RAM. There are 2 320GB disks in a Raid 1 using the onboard nvdia controller.
The disk configuration was a big deciding factor when I was trying to choose between Hyper-V R2 or ESXi 4.x. Simply put, ESXi doesn’t recognize the controller as anything more than a standard SATA controller, so RAID and thus ESXi were a no-go.
Microsoft’s built in management tools for Hyper-V never appealed to me. I don’t feel like I can do enough to the host OS. Plus, getting them to work in the first place is an ordeal itself. See http://blogs.technet.com/b/jhoward/archive/2008/03/28/part-1-hyper-v-remote-management-you-do-not-have-the-requested-permission-to-complete-this-task-contact-the-administrator-of-the-authorization-policy-for-the-computer-computername.aspx. Now that everything is up and running, I don’t want to touch it lest I break anything. I hate this kind of feeling with systems and replace them with something more manageable ASAP.
I’m not sure how well Systems Center works for managing multiple Hyper-Vs in an enterprise, but vCenter works very well and it’s quite robust. I feel like it is a very complete management solution for a virtual machine environment. I digress though, this is just for home and only 1 machine.
Another thing that I don’t like is the lack of memory overcommit. Hyper-V won’t let me provision more than 7 of the 8GB for the guest systems. As I experiment and put in new systems, this is becoming a real hard limit and I’m pretty much stuck right now.
So, I’ve made the decision to do what it takes to get onto ESXi. First thing I need to do is replace the RAID controller. I picked up a Dell Perc 6i WITH battery (score!) off of eBay for cheap. Almost all of the controllers do NOT come with brackets, so I had to purchase one from Mouser electronics. My plan is go at least 2 1TB drives for OS and at least 2 2TB drives for a file server all a minimum of RAID1. I might do something else if I can pick up more drives, but no 0. To get this going, I need a 32-pin to 4 SATA cable. One can be had from Dell or Amazon for about $20.
Once this is in, I’m going to have to P2V all the servers from Hyper-V hell using VMware Workstation on my desktop as purgatory before I bring up the ESXi host and then import them into VMware heaven.
I’m then going to up the memory on a couple of systems to see what performance is like when I overcommit. If it’s acceptable, then I’ll be happy for about 5 minutes. At some point, I’m going to pull all that RAM and add 4 4GB sticks to max out the system at 16GB of RAM anyway.
Right now I’m just waiting on the cables from Amazon and then I have to order hard drives from Newegg. One other thing I’m worried about is heat. The case I have does not have any cooling over the hard drives and I noticed the ones in place now are pretty hot. That may be another cost that I’m eventually going to have to consider, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.