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HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

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  • HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

    I want to build an ESX 3.0 server lab at home, but it seems like all that's in the HCL are hardware in the thousands.

    I believe ESX 3.0 won't work on a desktop. Is there a way I can build one wihout spending too much money? I currently built one on a DL360 at work but I'd rather play around with it at home than in the office.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

    HI medyo21,

    Actually, I am trying to do the same thing. I tried to load ESX on my Dell SC430 low end server but didn't have any luck.

    I have "heard" from others on the Internet that all we really need is a supported SCSI adaptor and a SCSI drive. I'm not sure if that is true or not but I am going to see if I can put something together and try it.

    Here is the list of the supported SCSI adaptors-
    http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi3_io_guide.pdf

    Has anyone else out there been able to get ESX going on a machine that is not on the ESX HCL? If so, please share your experiences.

    Thanks
    David Davis - Petri Forums Moderator & Video Training Author
    Train Signal - The Global Leader in IT Video Training
    TrainSignalTraining.com - Free IT Training Products
    Personal Websites: HappyRouter.com & VMwareVideos.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

      At my work, we run our ESX on incredible boxes. We're spending 40,000 (about US$80k) on the hardware. And that doesn't include the fibre-channel SAN storage they're using for the machine images.

      Even on this, they can only run about 10 machines well; they can cope with 15 but they'd better not be doing anything heavy. So we're talking 15 web servers or 7 database/heavy app servers... and about 10 if they're a mix.

      The point of all this? Well, I'm not sure if you'd get anything useful out of ESX on a low-end box. You could maybe run one or two machines... and you can do this with VMWare Workstation or VMWare Server. About the only advantage of it would be learning the management and setup.


      Tom
      For my own and your protection, I do not provide support by private message under any circumstances. All such messages will be deleted and ignored.

      Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you

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      • #4
        Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

        Hi Stonelaughter,

        That is a good point for both medyo21 and I - that it would have very limited functionality (running maybe 1-2 VM's and none of the other ESX features like vmotion, VMHA, etc).

        In my case, I am completely fine with that. I just want a test box so I can learn about ESX without having to spend thousands on a test server. I would run ESX inside VMware Server, if that would work but it won't (I tried it).

        Thanks for any help you can provide!
        David Davis - Petri Forums Moderator & Video Training Author
        Train Signal - The Global Leader in IT Video Training
        TrainSignalTraining.com - Free IT Training Products
        Personal Websites: HappyRouter.com & VMwareVideos.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

          My intentions are similar, I just want to learn to navigate around it and not run something big. Unfortunately, it's too expensive. I have used Workstation 5 but the console and features are different from ESX 3.0.

          I have heard mixed inputs regarding using SCSI drives as an alternative on desktops so let me know if that checks out.

          Thanks!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

            Hi all,

            guy on my install and configure course told me he'd done it using two desktops and a laptop, he's posted it on a vcp experts exchange forum:

            http://forums.virtualfootprint.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=2

            Haven't tested it, our instructor didn't believe him but sounds ok.

            Ta. Freddie99

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

              It is true.

              I have got this working on a couple of old Dell desktops, full details are on the VCP Tech exchange forum at http://forums.virtualfootprint.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=2

              This also supports VMOTION, HA and DRS.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                Thank you Hoggle and Freddie!

                The thread mentioned that the desktops were only using 512MB of RAM so I am assuming that ESX 2.0 was installed since 3.0 has a minimum requirement of 1GB. Hopefully ESX 3.0 would still allow me to install it on an IDE.

                DavidDavis: Do you by any chance remember which part of the installation you hit a dead end? Or where you able to install it completely but just didn't get it to work?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                  Hi Medyo,

                  I tried to load ESX 2 and, as I recall, it said it was installing but just never did. It has been a while so I dont remember exactly. It was at a point that it sounded like it was doing something like "copying files" but I left the PC sitting over night and it still said the same thing in the morning.

                  Let us know how it goes. I am going to try the same thing myself.

                  THANKS freddie & hoggie for your help on this question!

                  David
                  David Davis - Petri Forums Moderator & Video Training Author
                  Train Signal - The Global Leader in IT Video Training
                  TrainSignalTraining.com - Free IT Training Products
                  Personal Websites: HappyRouter.com & VMwareVideos.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                    This was using ESX3.0.1 and VC 2.0.1, I have checked the machines and I had actually upgraded them to 1GB, which I had forgot about.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                      I have 3 ESX servers running in my basement on iSCSI shared storage taking full advantage of DRS, HA, VMotion, etc.

                      Compaq Proliant 6400R 4 processors, 4GB RAM
                      Compaq Proliant 6400R 4 processors, 4GB RAM
                      Compaq Proliant DL760 8 processors, 10GB RAM

                      Each ESX host has 4 Broadcom Gb NICs that I paid $7/ea. for from Geeks.com that are on the VMware ESX HCL. All Gb networking baby, which is important for VMotion and the iSCSI storage.

                      Spend some money on Ebay - there are thousands of servers out there that you can pick up for easily under $400US a piece plus shipping. The single most important HCL compatible item you will need for ESX is the SCSI array controller if you are using local storage for your VMFS volumes. Bare minimum in the Compaq SMART array line is the SMART Array 53xx or better. While the SMART Array 3200 used to work just fine in ESX 2.x, it no longer works in ESX 3.x!





                      That's an extra DL760 8 way carcass sitting to the right for spare parts.
                      VCDX3 #34, VCDX4, VCDX5, VCAP4-DCA #14, VCAP4-DCD #35, VCAP5-DCD, VCPx4, vEXPERTx4, MCSEx3, MCSAx2, MCP, CCAx2, A+
                      boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist
                      My advice has no warranties. Follow at your own risk.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                        The electricity company must love you

                        that's very impressive!!

                        Michael
                        Michael Armstrong
                        www.m80arm.co.uk
                        MCITP: EA, MCTS, MCSE 2003, MCSA 2003: Messaging, CCA, VCP 3.5, 4, 5, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, ITIL, MCP, PGP Certified Technician

                        ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points sigpic where appropriate **

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                        • #13
                          Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                          Originally posted by m80arm View Post
                          The electricity company must love you

                          that's very impressive!!

                          Michael
                          Yes, they have been loving me for many years.
                          VCDX3 #34, VCDX4, VCDX5, VCAP4-DCA #14, VCAP4-DCD #35, VCAP5-DCD, VCPx4, vEXPERTx4, MCSEx3, MCSAx2, MCP, CCAx2, A+
                          boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist
                          My advice has no warranties. Follow at your own risk.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                            Hi Jason,

                            VERY COOL STUFF!

                            I appreciate this overview of your personal VMware "farm". The pictures make it so much better. This is great info for all the Petri members who want to create their own VMware test network.

                            Thanks,
                            David Davis - Petri Forums Moderator & Video Training Author
                            Train Signal - The Global Leader in IT Video Training
                            TrainSignalTraining.com - Free IT Training Products
                            Personal Websites: HappyRouter.com & VMwareVideos.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: HELP: How to Build a "CHEAP" ESX Server

                              Originally posted by daviddavis View Post
                              Hi Jason,

                              VERY COOL STUFF!

                              I appreciate this overview of your personal VMware "farm". The pictures make it so much better. This is great info for all the Petri members who want to create their own VMware test network.

                              Thanks,
                              Thanks David!

                              PS. Since I think most of us will be concentrating on VI3, the concept of "Farm" has been replaced by "Data Center". It's those tech companies trying to keep our memory honest by renaming components with names that will have better marketability (or something).

                              Jas
                              VCDX3 #34, VCDX4, VCDX5, VCAP4-DCA #14, VCAP4-DCD #35, VCAP5-DCD, VCPx4, vEXPERTx4, MCSEx3, MCSAx2, MCP, CCAx2, A+
                              boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist
                              My advice has no warranties. Follow at your own risk.

                              Comment

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