Jun 13, 2011

Poor Man's VMware Failover Setup

Greetings everyone. I am writing up this post sort of as a retraction on my post about Proxmox VE that I wrote about a week or so ago. If you didn't get a chance to read it I talked about how I was going to setup a Proxmox VE virtualization cluster for my new company. After playing with it for the last few weeks, I decided to abandon that idea.

Some of the things I didn't like about Proxmox was that if I wanted to use shared iSCSI storage for live migrations the way it is designed, I couldn't do any thin provisioning. Also, although there are several methods for converting physical servers to virtual servers, the process is usually a multi-step process that take a lot of time to complete. I decided it just wasn't worth it, and decided to go back to plan A which was to setup two ESXi servers with shared storage.

So here's my plan, I purchased two SuperMicro SuperServers with dual quad core processors and 48GB of RAM each. I also bought an 8TB Buffalo iSCSI NAS for shared storage. Actually, it's only 6TB after I configure RAID, but that should be enough. The Buffalo NAS does run SATA drives, but that is okay because nothing in our home office is very resource intensive, so SATA should be fine. The equipment cost around $6,000. Not too expensive, which is good because we have very little IT dollars in our budget.

What I will do is install ESXi on both SuperServers. I will then P2V all the junky servers I have in the home office to one or the other nodes in my poor man setup. I will then make sure to register each VM on the other node. So basically each node will have the same VMs registered on them. Then I will power on half of the VMs on one node, and power on the other half on the other node. This way if something happens with one node. I can easily power the servers on the other node with minimal down time.

This setup, although it lacks cool features like vMotion, DRS, and HA, does give me a method for rather quick manual failover. Also, for simple tasks like rebooting, powering on, and shutting down servers etc, I can use the free version of Trilead's VM Explorer tool to manage the VM's on both nodes at the same time.

What do you think about my plan? Do you have a similar setup at your company due to budget constraints? How is it working out for you? Do you have any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments.

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