Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Home ESXi server


I'm currently pondering the idea of building a home ESXi server. When I first had the thought it sounded like total overkill - however the more I think about it the more I think it might be a good idea.

The primary driver is having had 3 data disks die in the last 4 years. The yearly stress of recovering data off dying disks is kinda getting to me, so some sort of RAID'd / High Availability storage is a key requirement for me... This is all very well, however it's a pain to have some other aspect of hardware kark out as well. In the last few years I've had two motherboards die - and rebuilding servers is a bit of a mission. So why not solve both of these issues with ESX. High availability disk + VM servers which can easily be brought back up on new ESX hardware (I'm not wanting high-availability servers so I don't need multiple ESX hosts, it's more about the ability to easily stand the virtual environment back up once the hardware is fixed).

I've been looking at a few sites that have articles on the topic - namely:


Now to be honest some of what they are doing is more than I really need - I don't plan on virtualising user machines - only server instances, and they really aren't going to be hardware intensive enough to require some of the more advanced features of ESXi, so I'm going to keep things simple and cost effective I think.

The server's I'll want to run are:

 - File Server + iTunes Server
 - Open Directory Server
 - Web Server

Plus the ability to easily stand up VM's for development etc. So definitely not anything hardware intensive. I'm planning on using something along the lines of the following for hardware:

CPU: Midrange i7 processor
MB: Something that has onboard LAN and SATA Raid that is supported by ESXi
HDD: Lots of standard SATA disk (2TB 7200rpm probably as that seems to be the best price point at present)
Network: the onboard LAN plus Intel NIC's (which I'll get second hand off ebay as it's about a trillion times cheaper than buying new in NZ)

I've tried installing ESXi on my current server hardware (an old desktop) and it only failed on the lack of an Intel NIC so I'm not forseeing any major issues.

Anyway - as you can probably tell I'm in the early stages of considering this - much planning still to be done.

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