new to SSD Storage - ESXi simple host

Hi All:

SO we've been running a 2 node ESXi Essentials Plus for about 10 years. I'm upgrading one of the nodes and trying to figure out whether SATA SSD or SAS HDD (spindle) is better for me.

Before anyone busts on me about vSAN and storage arrays...I don't have the $.  This is a simple node with (3) simple Windows Server VMs running Windows Server 2016 DC, F&P, and RDS (Desktops). I've a heavily constrained budget and even a basic SMB NAS like TRUENAS or Synology SA3200D is not something my CEO will buy. I've asked, he said no.

I'm looking at a new Dell R750 or HPE DL380G10 Plus, Xeon Gold 6346, 128GB RAM, dual 10GBASET NIC, with Perc H55 (in the Dell). The quote I have so far has multiple mixed SATA SSD drives for about 6TB usable.

I was reading about the durability of SATA SSD (Write, mixed, read). We definitely cannot afford write, but MIXED seems like a good option for about 3 years lifecycle.

I also am planning on the BOSS2 (or HPE equivalent) of RAID1 240GB for running / booting ESXi. The PERC H55 would likely be RAID5 where I'd place my datastore for the three VMs I have. Right now, they are about 3TB in space and may grow to 4TB. We don't really have a lot of data.

So last night, I was up in the middle of the night thinking about the 3 year lifecycle I was reading about using the 2.4tb MIXED SATA SSD options from Dell. We really don't do heavy writes, mostly reads. But we do daily backups, user logins with desktop profiles, Outlook OST/PST files and such.

I have NEVER built or used a server with SSD. I'm thinking of it b/c I want to improve Disk I/O without having to use traditional spindles as I have in the past. And I dont' have a budget for even a basic SMB SAN. So I'm thinking of the SATA SSDs to give me a bit better throughput on the disk I/O side for my basic Windows Server VMs.

Those 2.4TB SATA SSD drives will cost me about $12,000 in todays prices. With general server daily usage, including user logins, running apps, backups, if I get (3) years life out of that storage, that's just not good enough durability. I can't spend another $12k in three years. (Heck, as it stands today, my current R730 was put in back in 2015 and is still running).

I guess I'm saying I'm ignorant about the real lifecycle of SSDs in servers. I know I'm paying more for the SATA SSDs. But I guess in my head, I'm already pre-imagining going to the CEO between initial deployment and 3 years and saying, "Boss, I need another $12k to replace those drives". Oh yeah, we need to replace them every three years.

Unfortunately, the SMB I work for makes their IT investments last beyond normal lifecycles. I've done a good job keeping our Infrastructure operational on a limited budget. But I find myself leaning towards the *SAFETY* of traditional RAID6/Spindles vs the increased upfront and GUARANTEED replacement costs of SSD storage every three years or so.

So my question ultimately is:

1. Is this realistic? Will I have to replace the SSD drives in a general use VM environment? will the performance gains of SSD (SATA) be worth it?

2. Should I stick with what I've been doing: SAS SPINDLE DRIVES for durability, RAID6 and longer life cycles and just accept that the price/performance difference of SATA SSD vs. SAS SPINDLE just doesn't make sense still.

I want to be real open, that my SSD expereince has to do with end points (M.2 PCIe, SATA SSD). Those are definitely different risks and performance environments.

Love for you to share your experience. What would you do? (and please, don't tell me about vSAN and vMOTION and all that goodness. I know about it but cannot even afford the cheap stuff that's out there. Heck, a Synology SA3200D is going to put me back another $20K minimum and I certainly wouldn't bet my life on that.

This is really just a simple SMB single host environment running three W2016 VMs. We are certainly not Amazon or Bank Of America. But we need to run 24 x 7. My current traditional hosts have gotten the job done. But both of them now are past EOL...well past.

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