Building a Homemade SAN on the Cheap: 32TB for $1,500

One of the things I've been working on getting for my lab is a dedicated SAN/iSCSI box, and I was looking to build a quality, performing box, on the cheap. Although those statements usually don't go together, you can build a quality SAN for a reasonable price. For those of you following my blog, you know that a couple of months back, I built a cheap vCenter/iSCSI server using a low-power FM1 dual core Llano, and Starwind's SAN/iSCSI software (the free version). It performed great with IOPS in … [Read more...]

ESXi iSCSI/RAID/Disk Performance: Improving Through RAM Cache

When designing any kind of system, whether it be an ESXi lab or otherwise, disk performance can end up being a bottleneck. No matter how fast your processor, or how much RAM you have, if you have a ton of iowait, and your system is having to wait in line to write or read data from your drive or volume, then your system will be slow. Modern systems in need of extreme IOPS are turning to SSD arrays and SSD cards for performance, but even with the drastic reduction in price since their … [Read more...]

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...]