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Requesting feedback on my MSGen8 Plans


ChronoSphere
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Greetings!

 

First post, and of course its a noob asking questions :)

 

I've been studying a potential MS Gen8 deployment for a home server and have a proposed components list and initial software/vm setup I would like some feedback on. At the bottom I've listed future adds as well, as I want to make sure I've got room to grow. This initial setup is kinda expensive so I'm also looking for feedback if there are cheaper options for some of my components. I'll take my lumps if anything is on the dumb side.

 

  • HP MS Gen8 Celeron g1610t, 2GB RAM ($409)
  • Crucial 8GB ECC RAM ($63)
  • Sandisk 240GB SSD (For Boot Drive and VM store, in ODD) ($75)
  • 3x 3TB WD Red (RAID 5 Array) ($109) (Going to use the controller card to expand to a 4th disk in the future)
  • HP P222 SAS Controller Card ($150-300) depending on where I get it and whether it has FBWC or not

Software/VM setup:

  • Host: WinServer 2012R2 Essentials
    • Installed Roles: Hyper-V Server, File Sharing Services
  • Guest 1: WinServer 2012R2 Essentials
    • Installed Roles - Domain Controller, Possibly DHCP
  • Guest 2/3/4etc: Whatever works for Plex/Couchpotato/sickbeard (Also dependent on future CPU upgrade, e3-1265L v2)

I have multiple computers at home for both myself and my wife, going to use this box as a file server, plex server in the future, and also centralize permissions / accounts across all the machines (its getting annoying). I think I'm pretty well wedded at this point to going w/ a conventional Windows environment as its what I'm familiar with from work (I've already experimented with FreeNAS). All the machines in the house will backup to this server, and then the server will backup offsite (still exploring options at this point, crashplan etc)

 

I'm open to any comments or suggestions. The controller card is expensive as hell, but I like the ability of being able to expand to an external enclosure in the future for additional storage space and its integration with iLO (my understanding is that using a third-party card doesn't allow this). Besides ebay, if anyone knows of trustable sources for this card let me know.

 

Should I have a second SSD for RAID1 in the ODD (or using Schoondoggy's drive bracket to have 2) as the host is a full windows install, not something lightweight like ESXi or FreeNAS? Or can I just image the SSD to the array as a second copy of that? I do intend to backup the VM VHDs (which will be stored on the SSD for speed purposes, unless for what I'm doing storing them on the array will be fast enough) to the array on a nightly basis. 

 

Thanks in advance!

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Welcome!

I just have a few personal opinions.

First is that, for a HOME server, you really should not rely on hardware RAID. The software equivalent is just as powerful. The problem with hardware RAID is that in a few years from now if the P222 should die, you need to look for a replacement just to make everything working again, whereas with software raid you really don't need any hardware to rebuild and access your data.

Second is that for home use I don't see the need for a domain controller other than the educational purpose. If you really want to experiment with it then fine. But other than that it is just going to make your installation more prone to failure. The more complex it is, the harder it will be to make it functional a few years down the line, when you forgot how you configured it in the first place.

Third is that you can buy the server a LOT more cheaper from AMAZON. I paid 209 euros with free shipping for it.

And lastly the Celeron processor it currently has it simply is not enough to carry more than two VMs.

There are a LOT of software RAID alternatives, one being ZFS. It needs more RAM than simply using the hardware controller, but with 10Gb it should be enough. Btw the Kingston ECC ram is about the same price on Amazon as the CRUCIAL one.

With the software RAID sollution, you should have more money to invest in more RAM and another HDD.

My setup is similar with yours. I have 16 Gb Ram and a 128Gb SSD in the ODD slot installed. I chose Win Server 2012 R2 Standard as a base OS. I booted a OPENMEDIAVAULT (OMV) machine in a VM because it is very easy to just reinstall it and reconfigure it if something goes wrong. I let the OMV machine handle the file sharing and the Win Server to backup everything on another HDD. It should provide me with enough failover for my data.

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Should I have a second SSD for RAID1 in the ODD

I would go with single Samsung 850 PRO series SSD (+backup). It has 3D V-NAND with large cells and 10 years warranty.

 

A

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Welcome!

I just have a few personal opinions.

First is that, for a HOME server, you really should not rely on hardware RAID. The software equivalent is just as powerful. The problem with hardware RAID is that in a few years from now if the P222 should die, you need to look for a replacement just to make everything working again, whereas with software raid you really don't need any hardware to rebuild and access your data.

Second is that for home use I don't see the need for a domain controller other than the educational purpose. If you really want to experiment with it then fine. But other than that it is just going to make your installation more prone to failure. The more complex it is, the harder it will be to make it functional a few years down the line, when you forgot how you configured it in the first place.

Third is that you can buy the server a LOT more cheaper from AMAZON. I paid 209 euros with free shipping for it.

And lastly the Celeron processor it currently has it simply is not enough to carry more than two VMs.

There are a LOT of software RAID alternatives, one being ZFS. It needs more RAM than simply using the hardware controller, but with 10Gb it should be enough. Btw the Kingston ECC ram is about the same price on Amazon as the CRUCIAL one.

With the software RAID sollution, you should have more money to invest in more RAM and another HDD.

My setup is similar with yours. I have 16 Gb Ram and a 128Gb SSD in the ODD slot installed. I chose Win Server 2012 R2 Standard as a base OS. I booted a OPENMEDIAVAULT (OMV) machine in a VM because it is very easy to just reinstall it and reconfigure it if something goes wrong. I let the OMV machine handle the file sharing and the Win Server to backup everything on another HDD. It should provide me with enough failover for my data.

Thanks for your feedback Metallus!

 

So the reason I've been looking at hardware raid is I want the ability to expand the array further in the future, which means that I need something with an external SAS port like an HBA card, so I'm looking at $100ish extra dollars anyway in the future, and from what limited experience I have with software raid in a windows environment, the performance kinda sucks. I understand that the p222 may die, but so may any other piece of hardware in the machine once its past warranty, and from what I understand you can recover the array from any other p-series controller (I would expect in the future the p222's would get cheaper as they become an older card anyway.

 

The domain controller I agree is overkill, but then again setting up an entire server from scratch is overkill to begin with - if I wanted simplicity I would just go with a Synology NAS :). Its partially for educational purposes, partially for machine / account management in the house.

 

As for price, the link I gave wasn't amazon, was another site called provantage that was selling it for $409 USD. Thats the cheapest I've seen here in the USA. If someone has a better cheaper link for the Celeron model (buying the cheap CPU because I intend to replace it once I go past 1 VM) I'm all ears! 209 Euro is $237 USD - if you want to buy one and ship it to me (assuming shipping is still less than $170 I might consider it! :)

 

I'm getting 8GB (plus the 2GB stock) RAM just to start with, I will get another 8GB stick whenever I upgrade the CPU when I start doing more VM's. (I have an existing second gen i5 HTPC that is running plex, eventually I will consolidate it to this server as a VM).

 

For OMV, you have your storage virtualized as well? So the file shares the rest of the network sees are essentially VHD files?

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For OMV i just linked a physical HDD (actually a RAID 0 array of just one HDD). I am actually not happy with that, I think that next week I am going to just make a .VHDX hdd and be done with it. The main advantage I currently have with OMV is that I can reinstall the whole machine in just 10 minutes. The configuration phase takes a little over 5 minutes to have everything working again. Currently the OMV machine takes care of the shares and the OwnCloud server (plugin). Those are the two main things running on OMV (apart from the antivirus).

One other problem I currently have is with the CPU. It being an older generation (xeon E3 V2), has become a little hard to find. The usual stores have prices that do not justify the performance boost in a home environment. If I would want to run more than two VMs, I will have to cash out or buy something newer/more powerful.

About buying it and send it over the ocean would normally be no problem, but as I currently work for a company that has an increase workload during the holidays and the holiday season starting next week (not to mention I need to work extra hours), that makes it kinda impossible to manage another task like this (plus I really need to justify to my wife the cash on the credit card for a complete stranger on the internet).

If you want I can give you the amazon link from where I bought it. The original Firm is in Spain (I live in Germany). I think you can talk to them to send it to you.

 

BTW I sold my Diskstation DS410 just to get the server. I promise you that a NAS is never gonna satisfy your needs.

And if you want, you could always install PROXMOX. I had it for a while, before installing windows server 2012 R2 Standard. It is actually quite good.

A colleague of mine has installed Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-v Core. It is free to use, but it has no UI. you need to configure the network per console and after that you can use the hyper-v remote management console as a UI. You might want to take that into consideration if you want to reduce the load on the Host machine.

 

http://www.amazon.de/Microserver-712317-421-Intel-Celeron-G1610T/dp/B00DDIC1DA/?ie=UTF8&qid=1445090848&sr=8-1&keywords=microserver+gen8

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I was planning on somewhat following what these guys did with a MicroServer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqTbCt8GVlk

 

They did full Hyper-V windows install as host with file share and hyper-v roles, installed a DC as a guest, then removed the UI modules in the DC to leave it running as a core install only - they installed the DC manager on the host. Though if I wanted to take it to its logical conclusion, I could do the exact same thing with the host (core only) and then use a desktop or a laptop to install the management tools.

 

I looked at your link, its nuts that its $150 cheaper in Europe (cause usually I hear people complain about the opposite!) None of the searching I did on Germany's Amazon site list anyone willing to ship to the US. I've never had anything shipped across the pond, don't know how much of a pain in the butt it is and whether its worth it or not.

 

I still don't think I'm comfortable virtualizing my storage, not sure if I can explain why.

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Well I am still testing the various options. But, like I said, I think I'm going to just make a BIG (1 Tb) .VHDX for storage and attach it to the OMV VM.

I could still go the way of ZFS with PROXMOX as a VM manager and virtualize another machine, but windows seems to make more sense to me. In proxmox the way volumes are created is just a little too complicated for someone like me (I have a life besides the server). I just cannot explain how easy it is to reinstall everything again. HP really did it with Smart Provisioning. I really suggest to give it a try.

If you need anything else, just ask.

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I would go with single Samsung 850 PRO series SSD (+backup). It has 3D V-NAND with large cells and 10 years warranty.

 

A

 

The EVO is cheaper and still with 5 years warranty, you will not gain any performance by going PRO, as the internal SATA is 2.0

 

The only way to get a mirror in addition to 4 drives in the bays connected to the P222 is to get a SAS splitter cable and connect 2 SSDs to the B120i. You don't really need the mounting bracket there is enough space for 2 SSDs on top of the drive cage, unless you want neatness that is. Personally i'm just doing nightly backup of the VMs that are on the SSD.

 

If you are in the system administration line of work you might want to consider running ESXi as the host OS, its free and easy enough to learn after watching some YouTube videos and will expand your skill set. 

 

Whatever you do, stay away from Storage Spaces, as it is an unmitigated disaster in it's current form.

 

Plex is fine with the celeron for a single 720p stream or 2-3 lower quality streams, 1080p is giving even the E3 1265L V2 run for it's money

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The EVO is cheaper and still with 5 years warranty, you will not gain any performance by going PRO, as the internal SATA is 2.0

 

It is not about speed. EVO stores 3 bits per cell (8 signal levels), PRO - 2 bits (4 signal levels). So EVO is cheaper for ~1/3, but durability (warranty) is 2x shorter. VMs make quite a lot of frequent small writes (logs) which isn't very handy for SSDs as they have to overwrite much larger flash memory pages. So I just feel safer with PRO series in the long term.

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If it's about endurance/warranty 5 years is more than enough, in 5 years you will be able to buy 5 SSD for the 1/3 price difference today, getting more value for money. Not to mention that SSD for stuff like DC, file server or media server is an overkill to begin with.

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