Random thoughts from an unusual company

ESXi Virtualisation and a warning if you have a Dell server

Gabriella Davis  7 October 2008 11:17:24
Like everyone else, we're doing more and more virtualisation of servers recently both for test setups and for any BES, Sametime or anything involving Portal.  Since ESXi is now free from VMWare it seemed a good opportunity to try it out so I did my research (it's only supported on limited specified hardware) and bought a Dell 1950 server with 2 Quad Core processors, 8GB RAM, 4 15k 73GB SAS drives and no operating system.  

Half a day spent wrangling it into the rack (alright not me, I have "people" for that :-) ) as I downloaded ESXi and then burnt it to CD.  The install itself was beyond easy, just boot the server from CD and off it goes, all done in about 10 minutes. Except not.  It said it was done (installed to Disk0) but on reboot - no operating system found.  Tried again.  and again. Same thing each time, the install appeared to go well but no operating system found on reboot.  Tried installing to Disk1 instead.  Same thing.  Eventually we noticed that when instructed to install to Disk0 it was actually the 3rd drive that was flashing with activity (luckily the SAS drives are very visible from the front of the server with no bezel on or I may not have seen).  We took out all the drives except the first one and then tried again, this time the install only found Disk0 and after installing it came up perfectly.

Clearly there is something wrong with the ESXi install that meant it wasn't able to correctly identify the 4 disks on that model Dell and what it thought was Disk0 was actually Disk2, and what it thought was Disk1 was actually Disk3!  With only one disk in it was able to correctly find it, identify it and install to it.  Neither Dell nor VMWare, who I spoke to early on and couldn't advise more than "reinstall", were interested so I doubt it's going to be fixed anytime soon.


1Paul Gagnon  07/10/2008 13:38:27  ESXi Virtualisation and a warning if you have a Dell server

Gab, be sure to spend some time in the PERC utility in the Dell and get your drive groups setup and also choose the appropriate raid level.. with 4 drives you should be able to group em all into a raid 5. It's something like Ctrl + R after the server posts. Should be a much better install once that is sorted out.