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Advice for a New Home Server Solution (Network, Storage and VMs)


ballan91
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Hi Guys,

 

First post here, but I've been scrolling through the forums for quite a while now, and I've used many of the ideas in my current set up which is starting to show some age. For reference my current setup is below (more or less):

 

HP MicroServer N40l:

Specs:

- 8GB RAM

- M1015 

- IcyDock 4 x 2.5" Bay in ODD bay

- 2 x 128GB SSD's in RAID 0 (Used for VM OS disks)

- 2 x 1 TB in RAID 1 (Used mostly for backups/VM storage)

- 1 x 250GB (Scratch space for moving VM's around, stock drive that came with the N40l)

- HP Remote Management Card

 

Usage:

Running ESXi 5.1 with 5 VMs running constantly (All I can really do reliably with 8GB of RAM):

W2012E 

W2008R2

Ubuntu 12.04 - UseNet Indexer and Cacti

Ubuntu 12.04 - SickBeard, SABNzbd, Plex, Serviio (hoping to replace Serviio with Plex)

OpenVPN applicance

 

I also use this guy from time to time to host labs that I need to run more permanently, otherwise I usually just run them in Workstation on one of my 2 desktop rigs. 

 

Synology DS411j (Ancient, Slow and dying...):

4 x 2TB in SHR (Hybrid Raid, about 5 TB of space)

 

Usage:

Storage for all my media and is where Plex and Serviio stream from.

Shared Storage

User home Storage

Backup storage via iSCSI lun connected to my w2012e box

VM overflow storage via an iSCSI lun attached to ESXi

 

 

Network Gear:

Airport Extreme (Router)

2 x Airport Express (WAPs because there was too much interference in my house)

2 x 5 Port Dlinks for various areas

 

Given the above, I am looking for a new/better solution as I need to replace the NAS before it totally craps out, it might be salvageable as backup media with a complete re install of DSM, I think some early day tinkering before I had my N40l might've caused some issues in DSM. I'm not quite sure what I am looking for, as my needs have changed significantly since this was all setup, but I haven't had the time or money to really re-architect this environment. Going forward I would like to be able to use whatever virtualization box I choose to host more of my labs and test beds on my ESXi host or Hyper-V should I be swayed that direction. 

 

Originally I was looking at just replacing the NAS with a DS1513+ (~$800) and filling it up with 5 3TB WD Reds (~$139 ea), plus replacing my network infrastructure with a Cisco SG300-20 for some flexibility in segmenting some of my work stuff from the home stuff and being able to use LACP with the 1513+ and hopefully also with a new server of some sort... I hadn't yet decided what I was going to do with the Router/WAPs, but was strongly considering a SonicWall and maybe a WAP or two, or going the Cisco SMB route as they have some reasonably priced wireless equipment now. Alternatively if I add a second NIC, or get a new server with Dual NICs or possibly Quad, I could visrtualize my router with pfsense or something similar, I would likely want to be able to have a couple virtualized networks at any rate for test beds and such... 

 

So here's my question, based on my requirements and what I have currently what is best option to meet my needs for now and into the future? Do I:

 

a. Continue with the above plan and add new server into the mix, if so what should I consider (ESXi compatibility would be nice)?

b. Re-purpose the existing server as a NAS and purchase a new server with more potential?

c. Any other option or combination? I am open to everything...

 

My budget is around $2000 immediately and possibly more in the future.

 

To add to everything, I've been looking at converting to a rack if possible, but maybe not immediately. Otherwise I might just go buy some sturdier shelving.

 

Thanks for your input!

Edited by ballan91
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For that money, and assuming you have the experience/skills (which it sounds like you do for sure), I would look at building your own custom box. One thing you could do is flesh it out with 32GB of RAM on a server class mobo. That should make it nice for doing labs and stuff.

 

pcdoc can almost certainly give you lots of great ideas for spending your money ;)

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As soon as you move into rack-land, I think your $2k budget would disappear much more quickly.  I still want a rack (you can take the guy out of the IT dept but you can't take the IT dept out....etc...) but can never justify the cost.

 

That said, if it were me, I'd explore option B.  Any modern PC or server you get will run rings around your current rig and really speed up your VMs.  Adding the new server lets you migrate things over when you are ready, and not in a hurry.  Plus you can never have too many copies of your data, and if you can add redundancy by turning the N40L into a NAS, I think that's valuable.  Even more so if you can locate it offsite and back up to it over the internet with Crashplan or something similar.

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Hi Ballan91 and welcome to the Forums!

 

If you’re considering building, Here are a couple of recent builds that you might get some useful info & ideas from:

 

 

Both are in the BYOB (Build Your Own Box) section of the Forums where there are a ton of ideas!

Edited by Joe_Miner
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I have mostly settled on what I am going to do, the DS1513+ is enroute with 5x3tb WD Reds (I may end up putting 2 faster drives in a R0 or 1 configuration to use as an iSCSI lun for my VMs, but we'll see what kind of speed I can get out of the REDs first). As for a server I am likely going to go OEM, I would like to build a box, but I think for the price I can get something pre-built with all the features + room for growth. 

 

I was originally considering an G8 Microserver with a Xeon swap, however I think this is going to leave me in a similar position as the N40L did (wanting to expand in a year or so with few/no options), so the two options I'm looking at currently are:

 

HP DL310e G8 Xeon E3-1220v2 (3.1GHz) - $582.55

 

Pros:

- HP Reliability/Brand Name

- iLO4

- 2 Standard Gig LAN ports for teaming. (No need to add)

- VMWare Compatible

 

Cons:

- Will need to buy an iLO license

- Older processor arch, and slower speed. 

 

 

 

Lenovo TS140 Xeon E3-1225v3 (3.2GHz) - $473.88

Intel I350-T2 - $136.96

 

Pros:

- As a Lenovo Partner I will get an small kickback probably an additional $20 off.

- Newer Processor Architecture for future upgrades

- Slightly faster proc.

 

Cons:

- Not on the VMWare ESXi Compatibility List (possibly a big deal breaker)

 

For both servers I will have to replace the RAM, I will likely go with 4X8GB G-Skil Ripjaw pc3-12800 UDIMM (According to this post http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/6161-lenovo-thinkserver/ it should work fine with the Lenovo, I would need to confirm with the HP).

 

Given the above, what do you think is my best option? Or alternatively what could I build or buy for the same price while maintaining similar specs?

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I have mostly settled on what I am going to do, the DS1513+ is enroute with 5x3tb WD Reds (I may end up putting 2 faster drives in a R0 or 1 configuration to use as an iSCSI lun for my VMs, but we'll see what kind of speed I can get out of the REDs first). As for a server I am likely going to go OEM, I would like to build a box, but I think for the price I can get something pre-built with all the features + room for growth. 

 

I was originally considering an G8 Microserver with a Xeon swap, however I think this is going to leave me in a similar position as the N40L did (wanting to expand in a year or so with few/no options), so the two options I'm looking at currently are:

 

HP DL310e G8 Xeon E3-1220v2 (3.1GHz) - $582.55

 

Pros:

- HP Reliability/Brand Name

- iLO4

- 2 Standard Gig LAN ports for teaming. (No need to add)

- VMWare Compatible

 

Cons:

- Will need to buy an iLO license

- Older processor arch, and slower speed. 

 

 

 

Lenovo TS140 Xeon E3-1225v3 (3.2GHz) - $473.88

Intel I350-T2 - $136.96

 

Pros:

- As a Lenovo Partner I will get an small kickback probably an additional $20 off.

- Newer Processor Architecture for future upgrades

- Slightly faster proc.

 

Cons:

- Not on the VMWare ESXi Compatibility List (possibly a big deal breaker)

 

For both servers I will have to replace the RAM, I will likely go with 4X8GB G-Skil Ripjaw pc3-12800 UDIMM (According to this post http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/6161-lenovo-thinkserver/ it should work fine with the Lenovo, I would need to confirm with the HP).

 

Given the above, what do you think is my best option? Or alternatively what could I build or buy for the same price while maintaining similar specs?

where are you located?

Newegg has the ML310e for $509

Amazon has the TS140 fr $385

 

on the ML310e, if you do not buy drives from hp you will need to buy drive trays.

iLo basic comes with the server, you only need keys for advanced functions.

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I'm up in Canada, so I don't think I can really get these for much cheaper, I've looked around at a couple of places and so far those are the cheapest. What does iLO basic give you? Remote KVM at least?

 

I think I'm probably going to go for the HP even though it's a little pricier. At least I will have guaranteed VMware support :)

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I could probably forego iLO for now, once ESXi is up and running there is really no reason for remote KVM at all.

 

As for the drive trays, http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-651314-001-3-5-Gen8-SAS-SATA-Tray-Caddy-Sled-Proliant-ML350e-ML310e-SL250s-G8-/360786316755?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item54008a4dd3 I think that's what I need at $20 a pop, I would probably just buy 4 that way I have them if/when I need to add more drives. I will probably stick to a couple of VRs or just some Caviar Blacks for my VMs, I have plenty of storage on the NAS for everything else. 

 

Edit: It seems to me that if I go with the v2 ML310E Mfr#   724977-S01 w/o hot plug SATA drives that I could forgo the trays, and the v2 server is roughly 90 more on my end $679.68 which is what I would spend on 4 drive trays plus shipping. 

 

Edit 2: Re: iLO it seems that in iLO4 iLO Standard has Pre-OS vKVM and iLO essentials gains vKVM minus vMedia, I could probably stick to just the Basics and wait to find a license on eBay for Advanced or Essentials. 

Edited by ballan91
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