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ESXI at home

At my residence I have started using ESXI, and it’s enabled me to learn a bit about it.

I built the server which currently houses the infrastructure. I am using basically a desktop computer, well powered AMD process, 8GB of ram, a single 250 GB hard drive to store VMs on. Astute individuals can already see some issues in my system.

Firstly, running multiple VMs, in my case 4-5 on one hard drive creates a large bottle neck.  Specifically IO, and I’ve had my share of hard times with it, especially under heavy load situations.   The idea in avoiding getting something well-suited like a raid card is to avoid the additional cost of a proper raid setup.  My idea has been to use a NAS OS, particularly something like FreeNas, which a ZFS based software raid system.  Although with it, can come increased ram usage, which you can see is low as is. ZFS supports snap-shooting, allowing me to “image” the array under it’s current setup and return at a moments notice.

My only apprehension with ZFS for general use is, it’s inability to expand.  That is to say, to expand the array you must erase the array and start over.  I’ve long needed make the adjustment but along with it, comes the requirement to reposition everything and the downtime I forsee being needed is longer then I can allow right now.  The other side is, what happens if that single drive fails? Many would say, you’d be stuck if it failed.  And I would say, you’re right.

Have you been using ESXI? Or one of its competitors like XEN? What’s your experience with it?

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