The server uses local storage (Raid-10). In this case, is it really better to install ESXi onto SD?
I can fix your sentence with a better explaination: When you install the ESXi on the SD memory, you separate its dependency from local hard drives. Most of local datastore's disks may failed more quicker because there is higher rate I/O (made by VMs). So when you install the ESXi in a separate location like SD or USB, you actually reduce the risk of ESXi downtime in long duration. However you should know when the selected VMFS for ESXi installation is failed for any reason, until the next reboot of the ESXi, you still have that host up and run, normally without any problem
When using an SD card, is the procedure different when patching and upgrading?
No, nothing special action required for Updating procedures in this situation
Is it even possible to pre-make the flash media with ESXi embedded so when an SD card fails, power it down then replace with pre-made SD then power it back up and restore the config?
If you deployed the vCenter server in your virtual infrastructure, you can extract Host Profile for each of host. So whenever the host fails, you can install the new one or replace the SD as you mentioned and then attach that extracted Host profile and restore the host's configPlease mark my comment as the Correct Answer if this solution resolved your problem
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I had for a while environment full of HP DL360 Gen8 with SD Cards.
I have mixed feeling about such approach.
Yes - when you install ESXi on the SD Card you are installing it in the embedded mode.
Basically you just boot from sd card and after that you just update config file every hour.
If your SD card break (and it will break cause this media is not really meant for this) your ESXi will still be running - it will just complain that it cannot update the config.
You can evacuate the host, export the config to the file, shut down the server, replace the card, reinstall the same version of the ESXi and restore the config - all this without big impact to the load.
Unfortunately in my case SD breakdowns were far too often to consider this safe solution.
OTOH the worst case of boot media failure I had with local disks in raid 1 - raid adapter went down and the whole ESXi host became unresponsive.