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One huge datastore for VHDs or passthrough?


Jesse
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Hi,

 

I am beginning to tinker with ESXi 5.1 and I plan to virtualize WSE2012 for backup, file storage etc. Naturally I will have several other VM's running as well, but the server is my primary concern.

 

In the interest of up time I will most likely build the datastore using a large raid array. Probably two 3 TB disks in R1.

 

Will this work well, or is there some advantage to passing through individual drives to WSE2012 for the OS install or storage? I will pass through an external drive for backing up the WSE2012 VM as I like to rotate backup drives and keep one off site.

 

Thanks,

 

Jesse

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Hi,

 

I guess it would have to be a raid card as ESXi does not support intel chipset raid.

 

Funny you bring this up. I have been pricing raid cards (my ancient but trusty 3ware 9500S-12 will not work with my new server board) and now I am thinking that moving to a hyper-v solution may be a better option. It looks like Hyper-V Server will support all the hardware that windows server will, so I am thinking the intel chipset raid should work for a simple raid 1 array. Any thoughts on that?

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Jesse

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ESXi is EXTREMELY picky over hardware, be it NIC cards or RAID Cards. I was wanting to move into ESXi from Hyper-V, but I will tell you that Server 2012 as a host running the Hyper-V role is a lot faster than 2008R2. It may be just me, but it sure seems faster.

 

I have a HighPoint 2720 card and in order to use it on ESXi, I would have to rollback to version 4. Seems strange that they can't hold their standards going forward.

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I am thinking the intel chipset raid should work for a simple raid 1 array. Any thoughts on that?

 

I'm using Intel chipset RAID-1 for my current WHS2011 System Drive. It's been working flawlessly.

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Hi,

 

ESXi certainly is picky. I was careful to build my new server using hardware confirmed to work with ESXi, but now I am balking at the thought of dropping another few hundred on a raid card - there are just too many other things I would rather spend the money on.

 

So I figured that I should consider Hyper-V, as it should work fine with intel chipset raid (this is an assumption based on the fact that it has been working great in my WHS2011 server). I really want to use WSE2012 rather than the full on WS2012, so I am playing with Hyper-V Server 2012. I have read the horror stories about running hyper-v bare metal, but I have the time and hardware to test and learn.

 

I would still like some advice on parsing up a large raid 1 array into multiple VHD's vs. passing through individual drives/arrays.

 

Thanks again.

 

Jesse

Edited by Jesse
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Hi,

 

So HV Server 2012 needed a driver at install to see any of the drives attached to my board with the chipset set to 'Raid' mode. I could not find anything that looked promising in the quagmire that is the intel download site, so I got some 2008 x64 drivers from Supermicro and they seem to be working. When I installed WHS2011 on an ICH10DO board it had no problem seeing the raid arrays. Odd that they are not built into HV Server 2012 installer.

 

Jesse

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I think there are quite a few drivers that are 'missing' from MS installers. For example, AFAIK, none of the MS installers have built in drivers for the Realtek NICs that are present on many motherboards. But, remember, ESXi is far worse. For many RAID cards and NICs there simply aren't any ESXi drivers at all.

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I've also been using the Intel chipset software RAID that came with my Asus board. I have 4 1.5TB drives in raid 5, giving me 2 TB volumes. Haven't had any glitches in a year. My only complaint is that writes are slow, but it's not something I have to deal with much. I think RAID 5 is known for having slower writes..

 

I was thinking of redoing my system and using Server 2012 standard with storage spaces instead of any kind of raid. Then running WHS 2011 virtualized under it and using the Storage Spaces based drive system. Based on my readings on my Kindle of various 2012 books and samples, it looks like Storage Spaces is intended to replace RAID. It would have the advantage of not being dependent on any particular RAID card or chipset. I have worried what would happen if my motherboard dies. I imagine Storage Spaces it probably will be more like the Intel RAID in speed. But, it does have the advantage that you could probably move it to another motherboard with a problem.

 

Of course, much of the above is theorizing. I got some of it out a free book in the Kindle bookstore: Introducing Windows Server 2012 RTM Edition by Tulloch. It was free for the Kindle. It's something of a 250 page brochure describing the features of Server 2012 but does have a good bit of info for rookies like me. And, did I mention it's free? http://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Windows-Server%C2%AE-Edition-ebook/dp/B008X73O5A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350349890&sr=1-1&keywords=tulloch#_

 

Does anyone have any recommendations of books on the nitty gritty of installing and running Server 2012?

 

I've also been looking at samples of books on virtualization to get some grounding in that. I wound up purchasing Microsoft Virtualization Secrets by John Savill based on how readable the Kindle sample was. It’s a 550 page book and I’m only in the very beginnings, but he does do a good job of explaining how various concepts of virtualization developed, as well as some of the jargon. It was $22 for the Kindle.

http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Virtualization-Secrets-ebook/dp/B008MOJ4YY/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350351041&sr=1-2&keywords=savill

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If you're not actually unhappy with the chipset RAID-5 then I think you will be OK with the performance of Storage Spaces. Just be aware that performance of SS will vary, depending on which type of SS volume you create.

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