vCenter Server Build with a Starwind iSCSI Target

Up until now, I have been running vCenter as a VM inside my cluster.  There's a large debate over the pros and cons of running vCenter as a VM vs. a physical box, and I won't get into that here except to say it didn't work for me and my specific requirements/desires.  To that end, I decided to build a dedicated Windows 2008 box to use as my vCenter server.  In addition, I decided that I'd let the box do double duty and also run Starwind iSCSI, (the free edition), to make it one of my iSCSI nodes … [Read more...]

ESXi Configuration Backup by Cloning the ESXi USB Stick

Although there are a number of utilities out for doing an ESXi Configuration backup, I try to shoot for the easiest method, and for me, it was just cloning my ESXi USB stick. However, ESXi uses it's own file system, and you can't simply copy the files from one USB to another; you need to image them. Enter a nice little free tool called USB Image Tool. USB Image Tool Overview USB Image Tool does two things, and it does them well: it creates an image of a USB drive and stores it to disk, and it … [Read more...]

Intel Pro/1000 Dual Gigabit NIC PCI-X Card in PCI Slot

The issue that a lot of people run into when creating ESXi home labs is getting enough network cards to properly simulate a production environment, so they are able to segregate all of their network traffic into proper VLANs. Consumer level hardware doesn't normally come with 2 NICs onboard, and although adding additional NICs is possible, getting to four phyiscal NICs while actually keeping expansion slots for other things can be difficult. To solve this, I've started using Intel Pro/1000 MT … [Read more...]

ESXi 5.0 AMD Whitebox Server for $500 with Passthrough (IOMMU), Build #2

As I spoke about in my first post, ESXi 5.0 AMD Whitebox Server for $500 with Passthrough (IOMMU), my ESXi Home Lab is a bit different than most in that I'm not only looking for a lab, but also a production environment to run virtualized HTPCs (XBMC in a VM), and even virtualized PCs for the house. All hardware had to be consumer, but it also had to support ESXi HA (high availability), ESXi DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler, also known as clustering), ESXi FT (fault tolerance), and other … [Read more...]

ESXi 5.0 AMD Whitebox Server for $500 with Passthrough (IOMMU)

One of the things that I looked for in building my ESXi Home Lab was that I wanted enough hardware at a decently cheap price, to get get practice with the advanced features such as vMotion, Fault Tolerance, and Networking, but I also wanted a functional lab where I could do things like virtualize my NAS and HTPC for the house. In fact, I ended up virtualizing all but a single PC in the house (both my wife and my son use a virtual computer as their everyday desktop), but that's for another … [Read more...]