or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Video Components › Home Theater Computers › Thinking about virtualizing servers
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Thinking about virtualizing servers

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am looking at rebuilding my WHS 2011 and it seems this might be a good time to virtualize some machines. I have run some machines in virtualbox and parallels but never anything on a bare metal virtualization platform. What are people using for VMs?

I need a WHS 2011 passing through 12 hard drives, 2 win7 machines, a couple linux servers and the ability to expand into a firewall/router.

I have a norco 4220 with power supply and a supermicro SATA card and the hard drives from the existing whs setup that I would be looking to reuse.

So, what are people doing and what would you have done differently?

Thanks for the advice....
post #2 of 11
I am using virtualbox. The later 4.2.x releases have been very stable.
I run my DVR and firewall/router 24x7 on 2 separate VMs plus 3 general purpose VM that get started up on an as needed basis.

The VMs + their primary drives live on a 4 SSD array. The general storage array has 16 drives plus 6 SSD cache drives.

At the moment Virtualbox is doing a good enough job, as I have no dropout problems with the DVR which records from multiple HDHomerun network tuners.
The only thing I have done is to keep the DVR traffic from the homeruns on a separate ethernet interface and have it assigned to the DVR VM only.

The Virtualbox remote interface uses the standard Microsoft Remote desktop client which is nice as I can control it from a desktop or tablet.
I use the iPad to talk to the DVR and tweak the recording schedule and remote desktop autoscales the display to the client currently in use.
( I was originally worried about Virtualbox not using VNC but it has not been an issue so far)

I have a test ESXi setup but so far I see no need to change, the ESXI setup acts as a cold standby in the event the Virtualbox implementation falls over.
I am using VMDKs for the VM drives so the switch is relatively straightforward.

The processor is a Xeon E3-1230 with 16Gb of memory.

Th next step for me is to get the 2 sockets and much better memory bandwidth, the E3 starts to starve for memory bandwidth as the number of actively running VMs start to increase.
The most obvious symptom is the DVR starts to have dropouts. Might revisit ESXi and baremetal hypervisor at that point in time.
post #3 of 11
You want to use baremetal (ESXi, Xen, Hyper-V, and somewhat KVM). Virtualbox is a great tool... but the fact that it depends on the host OS makes it a very poor choice to have servers running on them. If you are looking to virtualize your router, then you definitely want that to be baremetal.

You want the servers running on a very stable platform. It's not that Virtualbox is the problem... but the host OS. I'm going to assume it's Windows here, and we all know the stablitly of Windows is not as reliable as we'd like.

When you run a baremetal hypervisor, the platform is extremely reliable, and very stable... so you always have the ability to connect to and service your VMs. In the case of Virtualbox, once the host OS goes... you have just killed every VM running.

I've used all the major hypervisors, and ESXi, even the free one, is the most capable and simple to get going.

I've currently settled on ESXi 5.1 update 1, as it has the best driver/device support for consumer level hardware. It runs from a USB stick on an AMD 8 core 8350 CPU, 32GB of RAM, and an ASRock Extreme4 mobo. I can pass-through nearly any PCI card, and I do pass-through an IBM M1015 raid card with 8 hard drives to a VM to serve as my NAS. Then I pass through a couple of NICs to run a virtual router for my internet service. Those two are my "critical" servers. Everything else is dependant on those two VMs.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
After a little more research it looks like ESXi is the way to go.

Is there a preferred motherboard, processor and RAM?
post #5 of 11
ECC RAM is recommended, but not necessarily required. Then, if you want to passthrough devices, you need a motherboard and processor that supports VT-d (Intel)/IOMMU (AMD).
post #6 of 11
Be careful going with ESXi 5.5. If you create a VM version 10 (which is the latest version in 5.5) then you will need the vCenter Server appliance to manage it, which is not free. If I had known I would have stayed at 5.1 like Puwaha.
post #7 of 11
Why don't you just convert the VM's back to vmx-09?
post #8 of 11
Version 8, and I don't think you can, or you can't without vCenter server. Just make sure you select version 8 upon VM creation.
post #9 of 11
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone is free. So if you should accidentally make a version 10 VM you can convert it back to version 8
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by potts.mike View Post

After a little more research it looks like ESXi is the way to go.

Is there a preferred motherboard, processor and RAM?

I went the Supermicro/Xeon route. At the time I bought it, the cost wasn't that much more than a I7 and a quality motherboard. The Xeon was cheaper than the i7 because it doesn't have graphics, the cost savings went into the more expensive motherboard.

It will work on consumer hardware. Best thing to do if you go this route is to search Google for "Whitebox" and copy someone's build.
IF you go with an i7 or i5 don't get a "K" chip as they won't support PCI passthrough, which is important for media servers as they most likely will need Sata/HBA card for all the data drives.

Another thing to look for is a motherboard known to work with two or three raid cards. My motherboard ports are for ESXi datastores, so all my data drives are on add-in cards.
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by Andy_Steb View Post

Why don't you just convert the VM's back to vmx-09?

I did.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Home Theater Computers
AVS › AVS Forum › Video Components › Home Theater Computers › Thinking about virtualizing servers