In January 2018 it was time to replace my current Lab environment. The last couple of years I used two Dell PowerEdge R710 servers to support all my lab environments. The lab environment is mainly used for personal education and product testing.
One of the main reasons to replace my hardware was the Intel Xeon 56xx Series processor end of support. The next release of vSphere (6.7) will not support these CPUs anymore. The other reason is consolidation. Move from two physical ESXi hosts to one physical ESXi hosts. How? Just at more resources to one ESXi host. This will reduce the power consumption and noise dramatically.
My day-to-day job as SDDC Consultant is focused mainly on the latest VMware product releases. So to keep up my knowledge my lab needs to support the latest releases.
The server consists out of the following components:
– Vendor: HP/HPE
– Type: ProLiant DL360e Generation 8 (Gen8)
– Chassis: Small Form Factor (8-bays)
– CPU1: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430v2
– CPU2: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430v2
– Memory: 128 GB (8x 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz)
– Disks HDD: 2x Seagate Constellation SAS 1TB
– Disks SSD: 4x Samsung EVO 850 250 GB
– Storage controller: HP SmartArray P420
– Storage controller cache: 1GB FBWC
– Onboard Management: Integrated Lights-Out 4
– NIC: HP Ethernet 1Gb 4-port 366i Adapter
– Power Supplies: 2x HP 460W CS Platinum Plus
– Additional: Rack mounting kit, cable arm and security front bezel
Why buying a DL360e Gen 8:
When I am going to buy new or refurbished hardware I always compare products get the best option available.
Memory DDR3 vs DDR4:
When comparing options I noticed a large difference in initial memory costs. In the EMEA region, DDR4 memory modules are expensive! The DL360e Gen 8 is running DDR3 and that’s compared to DDR4 a bargain. To put it into perspective a 16GB DDR3 RDIMM will cost you around 65 euro and a 16GB DDR4 RDIMM will cost you around 250 euro. If you take into account that I will need average eight memory modules… that is a huge difference in costs.
ProLiant DL360e or DL360p:
The DL360 Generation 8 is delivered in two models an “e” model and a “p” model. The p-model has more capabilities but compared to the e-model you pay a very steep price difference. When validating my needs I decided that I don’t need a p-model because the e-model can house enough performance for my lab environment.
Another difference between the DL360 Generation 8 models is the drive slots, you got two options listed below. The main difference is the number of drives and the 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives:
– 8 x SFF SATA/SAS/SSD Hot Pluggable Hard Drive Bays (2.5-inch)
– 4 x LFF SATA/SAS/SSD Hot Pluggable Hard Drives Bays (3.5-inch)
Over the last couple of years, all my virtualization projects were based for 75 percent on the DL360 Gen8… so we have a lot of history together. I’m very familiar with the server model and his pros and cons.
A lot of people ask me about the power usage of this server. That is a good question because this are the costs you see back every month on your electricity bill.
To reduce power consumption you need to order the right components. All the components in this server are carefully selected to reduce the amount of power usage:
– Do not buy the most powerful CPUs available, take a look at the TPD (Thermal Design Power)
– Do not buy the most powerful power supplies available
– Limit the amount of spinning disks and use as much as possible SSDs
– Disable all components in the BIOS that are not used
– Implemented the HP Best Practices to improve power settings and power usage
– Average 100W – Idle without workload
– Average 120W – With running a full nested environment (16 virtual machines)
– Average 160W – Deploying 64 ESXi Hosts within 15 minutes with PowerShell
– Average 265W – Peak power at host boot
All power usage measurements are done with Integrated Lights-Out 4 (iLO 4).
To give you some insight into my Lab architecture running on the DL360 Gen8:
The DL360 is running the latest vSphere release and is connected to my VMware vCenter that is running in the 24×7 environment.
The nested environment:
Every couple of months I redeploy the entire environment, based on the most usable setup for education or as a reference lab for the customer. The current installed Lab looks like the following:
- FreeNAS 11 – iSCSI Storage for the ESXi Hosts
- VMware ESXi 6.5 (nested)
- 3x Management ESXi hosts
- 3x Payload ESXi hosts
- VMware PSC 6.5
- VMware vCenter Server 6.5
- VMware NSX-V 6.4.0
- VMware vRealize Automation 7.3.1
- VMware vRealize Orchestrator 7.3.1
- Windows Server 2016 – Domain Controller
- Windows Server 2016 – Remote Desktop
The HP ProLiant DL360e Gen 8 is a great server to use for Lab environments. It supports all-round workloads and offers a lot of features in a 1u chassis. The server is not drawing that much energy and there is enough space for a set of eight 2.5 inch drives.
The server is of course not silent, I would not recommend placing this machine in the same room where you are working in.
I’m very happy with the choice I made.
I will probably upgrade the SmartArray P420 to a SmartArray P430 to increase the SSD performance.