Testing software and playing with new technologies is a crucial part of my business. Some solutions can be deployed to a simple VMware Workstation VM, but others may require complex server and networking architectures. In the past I did most of my tests with nested vSphere or vSAN clusters. Well, it works…. somehow… but you might imagine that a nested vSAN cluster with virtual flash devices, based on spinning (SATA) disks
sucks err.. does not perform very well.
I needed some bare metal to perform realistic testing, so I kept looking for phased out customer servers. The problem is, that many customers use their ESXi hosts until they literally fall apart or drop out of HCL. Hardware that isn’t capable of running latest VMware products is just scrap iron. Furthermore rackmount servers are usually noisy, energy hungry and require a lot of space. Not the best choice to put it in your office.
I’ve been searching for a while for a more compact solution. Intel NUC series looked like a possible candidate. I know they’re quite popular in the vCommunity, but what kept me from buying, was its lack of network adapters an the limited ability to install caching and storage devices.
Earlier this year I got a hint to look at Supermicro E300-9D series. This micro server looked promising. Still small, but equipped with 8 NICs (four of which are 10G) and M.2 connectors for NVMe flash devices. William Lam has posted an excellent article about the E300-9D. This little gem can be equipped with a SATA DOM boot device, up to 3 NVMe devices AND it is listed on VMware HCL. How cool is that?!Continue reading “vSAN Homelab Cluster Ep.1”