3 Replies Latest reply on Oct 8, 2008 1:20 PM by captmiddy

    ESXi or VMware Server on Big Machine

    captmiddy Enthusiast

      Okay, I am getting a replacment for my little 4 core 1U machine that I have run for the last 18 months and getting a large 16 core 48G machine, and now I have to figure out how to best utilize it.  Here is the issue, and I am interested in what people think. 


      The machine is supported with ESXi (in fact could have been purchased with it preinstalled) and comes with 500+G of SAS storage.  The virtual machines I am moving however are on VMware Server 2.0 RC 1, which means I will have to rebuild all them as they are HW Type 7, which isn't supported on ESXi.  I have 14 virtual machines today, and this represents several weeks of rebuilding if I have to start from ground zero.  Understand that the new server was sort of a surprise to me, I thought I was just going to be geting 2 more 1U pancake servers, so I hadn't been planning for this change. 


      The PROs for ESXi is the performance characteristics and bare metal install, but the big CON for ESXi is I have no Windows in my arsenal.  My two workstations are pure Linux machines, 13 of the 14 virtual machines are Linux and the 1 Windows virtual machine is fully taxed and belongs to another team who will likely be taking their license when their project ends.  I have no money to buy additional licenses but may be able to get buy with a trial license till the beginning of the year when I may be able to acquire a Windows license.  I know that next year some time VMware is supposed to have a control center for Linux for ESX, but I have to do something this year and would hate to have to do it twice.


      Does it really make that much difference in performance, given that I am going from 4 cores to 16 cores, to jump to ESXi find a way to wrangle up the Windows license to manage it temporarily until the Linx client comes along and I can hopefully hook that into IBM System Director (the literature on IBM System Director seems to indicate that I need the VMware console as well as IBM Director).  What do you all think?

        • 1. Re: ESXi or VMware Server on Big Machine
          airtime Novice





          personally I would go for ESXi.



          Regarding your rebuild I would look into vmware converter and run them through that, saves alot of work.



          You can get more info on coverter under http://www.vmware.com/support/converter/doc/releasenotes_conv303.html.



          There is a matrix (from where to where) a little down.



          my 2 cents.












          • 2. Re: ESXi or VMware Server on Big Machine
            guyrleech Virtuoso


            I'd also go ESXi although I use both products. Depending on how you have built your Server VMs, you may be able to get them over to ESXi relatively easily.






            First off, I've found that converting version 7 hardware back to version 4 can be achieved by creating a new custom VM and adding the disk from the version 7 VM. You need to edit the ASCI vmdk to set it's hardware version back to 4. Simply find the line:


            ddb.virtualHWVersion = "4"


            and change the 7 to a 4. You'll obviously lose the v7 hardware but this is the first step towards getting to ESXi.



            If your Server 2.0 disks are flat - as in fully allocated and not in 2GB chunks - then it's very easy indeed to get them over to ESXi. First convert the disks to version 4 as above. Then all you need to do is to get the vmdk files over to ESXi and create a new custom VM with this disk from Server 2.0. You will then need to edit the ASCII vmdk otherwise ESXi won't like it. Find the line:




            and change "monolithicFlat" to "vmfs". Then find the line similar to this:


            RW 20480 FLAT "Dummy-flat.vmdk" 0


            and change it to:


            RW 20480 VMFS "Dummy-flat.vmdk"


            That's it - just fire it up.



            If you haven't got flat files then you can either go through Converter although you can use vmware-vdiskmanager on Server 2.0 with the -r option to convert it to a new type 4 ("preallocated ESX-type virtual disk") disk which you can then take straight to ESXi by wrapping in a new custom VM in ESXi.



            BTW. My Linux Server 2.0 host is also an NFS server so I have set the folder containing my VMs as a datastore in ESXi via NFS so I don't need to copy files between the two.






            • 3. Re: ESXi or VMware Server on Big Machine
              captmiddy Enthusiast


              I decided to go with VMware Server 2.0 because apparently ESXi will not install on this machine.  It is only supported embedded.  The admins have tried a few times and had no luck, and I am not going to fight it when I get one day in the server room.  As to what you just said, I think I have other issues, several of my virtual machines are JeOS machines which were the original 7.0.4 virtual appliance type system and they can't support the SCSI interface needed for this and can't be upgraded to Hardy due to some commercial packages running on them that don't yet work on Hardy.  All and all it will be less of a headache, I will just take the performance hit for now.  Maybe when I get the next server in a couple years I will have more options.