This blog post is about replacing my current 24×7 Lab with a new set of two HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen9 servers. In this blog post, I am going to tell you about the configuration of the machines and how they are running on VMware ESXi. Also, I am going to compare them to my other lab hardware and my past home lab equipment.
So let’s kick off with the hardware! The HPE DL20 Gen 9 servers I bought were both new in the box from eBay and I changed the hardware components to my own liking.
A couple of interesting points I learned so far nearly all servers that you will find for sale are provided with an Intel Xeon E3-12XX v5 processor. One item you need to take into account: yes you can swap the CPU from a v5 to a v6 like I did but you need to replace the memory modules also! The memory modules are compatible with a v5 or v6 processor but not both ways. The Intel Xeon E3-12XX v5 CPUs are using 2133 MHz memory and the Intel Xeon E3-12XX v6 CPUs are using 2400 MHz memory. So keep that in mind when swapping the processor and/or buying memory.
In the end, after some swapping of components, I ended up with the following configuration. Both ProLiant servers have an equal configuration (like it should be in a vSphere cluster):
So far I have measured the power usage of the machines individually with the listed configuration in the hardware section. When measuring the power usage the machine was running VMware ESXi and on top of about seven virtual machines that were using about 30% of the total compacity. I was quite amazed by the low power consumption of 31.7 watts per host but I have to take into account that this is only the compute part! The hosts are not responsible for storage. Here is a photo of my power meter when performing the test:
Here are some screenshot(s) of the servers running in my home lab environment and running some virtual machine workload:
Screenshot 01: Is displaying one of the hosts running VMware ESXi 6.7 (screenshot from HPE iLO).
Screenshot 02: Is displaying one of the hosts connected to VMware vCenter and running virtual machines.
Screenshot 03: Is displaying one of the hosts HPE iLO web page.
Positives & Negatives
To sum up, my experience I have created a list of positives and negatives to give you some insight into the HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen9 as a home lab server.
This time I decided to do a blog post about the HPE Smart Array RAID controllers with their wonderful ssacli tool. The tooling of HPE is very powerful because you can online manage a VMware ESXi host and migrate for example from a RAID 1 volume to a RAID 10 without downtime or change the read and write cache ratio.
So far as I know I haven’t seen an identical tool yet from the other server hardware vendors like Cisco, Dell EMC, IBM, and Supermicro. The main difference has always been that the HPE tool can perform the operation live without downtime.
So far as I can remember it has been there for ages. It was already available for VMware ESX 4.0 and is still available in VMware ESXi 6.7. So thumbs-up for HPE :).
Let’s talk about controller support. The tool supports the most HPE SmartArray controllers over the last 10 to 15 years, for example, the Smart Array P400 was released in 2005 and is still working fine today.
Here is an overview of supported controllers:
HPE Smart Array P2XX
HPE Smart Array P4XX
HPE Smart Array P7XX
HPE Smart Array P8XX
HPE SSACLI – Location
In case you are using the HPE VMware ESXi custom images. The tool is already pre-installed when installing ESXi. The tool is installed as a VIB (vSphere Installable Bundle). This means it can also be updated with vSphere Update Manager.
Over the years the name of the HPE Storage Controller Tool has been changed and so has the location. Here is a list of locations that have been used for the last ten years for VMware ESXi:
I have collected some screenshots over the years. Screenshots were taken by doing maintenance on VMware ESXi servers. The give you an idea what valuable information can be shown.
HPE SSACLI – Abréviation
All commands have a short name to reduce the length of the total input provided to the ssacli tool:
- chassisname = ch
- controller = ctrl
- logicaldrive = ld
- physicaldrive = pd
- drivewritecache = dwc
- licensekey = lk
### Specify drives:
- A range of drives (one to three): 1E:1:1-1E:1:3
- Drives that are unassigned: allunassigned
HPE SSACLI – Status
To view the status of the controller, disks or volumes you can run all sorts of commands to get information about what is going on in your VMware ESXi server. The extensive detail is very useful for troubleshooting and gathering information about the system.
# Show - Controller Slot 1 Controller configuration basic
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config
# Show - Controller Slot 1 Controller configuration detailed
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show detail
# Show - Controller Slot 1 full configuration
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config detail
# Show - Controller Slot 1 Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show status
# Show - All Controllers Configuration
./ssacli ctrl all show config
# Show - Controller slot 1 logical drive 1 status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 show status
# Show - Physical Disks status basic
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status
# Show - Physical Disk status detailed
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status
# Show - Logical Disk status basic
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld all show status
# Show - Logical Disk status detailed
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld all show detail
HPE SSACLI – Creating
Creating a new logical drive can be done online with the HPE Smart Array controllers. I have displayed some basic examples.
# Create - New single disk volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=2I:0:8 raid=0 forced
# Create - New spare disk (two defined)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array all add spares=2I:1:6,2I:1:7
# Create - New RAID 1 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2 raid=1 forced
# Create - New RAID 5 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2,1I:0:3 raid=5 forced
HPE SSACLI – Adding drives to logical drive
Adding drives to an already created logical drive is possible with the following commands. You need to perform two actions: adding the drive(s) and expanding the logical drive. Keep in mind: make a backup before performing the procedure.
# Add - All unassigned drives to logical drive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 add drives=allunassigned
# Modify - Extend logical drive 2 size to maximum (must be run with the "forced" flag)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify size=max forced
HPE SSACLI – Rescan controller
To issue a controller rescan, you can run the following command. This can be interesting for when you add new drives in hot swap bays.
### Rescan all controllers
HPE SSACLI – Drive Led Status
The LED status of the drives can also be controlled by the ssacli utility. An example is displayed below how to enable and disable a LED.
# Led - Activate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=on
# Led - Deactivate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=off
# Led - Activate LED on physical drive
./ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=on
# Led - Deactivate LED on physical drive
./ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=off
HPE SSACLI – Modify Cache Ratio
Modify the cache ratio on a running system can be interesting for troubleshooting and performance beanchmarking.
# Show - Cache Ratio Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=?
# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 25% / write: 75%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=25/75
# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 50% / write: 50%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=50/50
# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 0% / Write: 100%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=0/100
HPE SSACLI – Modify Write Cache
Changing the write cache settings on the storage controller can be done with the following commands:
Viewing or changing the rebuild priority can be done on the fly. Even when the rebuild is already active. Used it myself a couple of times to lower the impact on production.
# Show - Rebuild Priority Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rp=?
# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Low
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=low
# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Medium
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=medium
# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to High
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=high
HPE SSACLI – Modify SSD Smart Path
You can modify the HPE SDD Smart Path feature by disabling or enabling. To make clear what the HPE SDD Smart Path includes, here is a officialstatement by HPE:
“HP SmartCache feature is a controller-based read and write caching solution that caches the most frequently accessed data (“hot” data) onto lower latency SSDs to dynamically accelerate application workloads. This can be implemented on direct-attached storage and SAN storage.”
Today a blog about my Home Lab. At the end of 2017, it was time to replace the old Dell PowerEdge R710 servers with something new. Currently, I was running two R710 servers for my lab environment.
These servers are ‘powered-on for a couple of hours a week to test new products and learn for certifications. My other environment described on this page is running 24/7 is providing a full set of infrastructure services.
Because of the price and I’m very familiar with the DL360 G8 it was a no brainer. Over the last couple of years, all my virtualization projects were based for 75% on the DL360 Gen8… so we have a lot of history together ;).
Technical specifications – HP DL360e Gen8:
Chassis: Small Form Factor (8-bays)
CPU1: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430 v2
CPU2: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430 v2
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 with 1 GB FBWC
NIC: 4 port 1 Gbit
Rack mounting kit, cable arm, and security front bezel
The spinning drives provide “safe” storage because they are configured as a mirrored volume. The SSD drives are configured as JBOD drives for performance without data protection (if I want protection I just create a virtual machine back-up to one of my storage arrays).
In 2018, I did a full write-up of this server on this page: link
In this article, we are going to flash an HPE MSA 1040 via FTP. At work, I faced a problem with a couple of HPE MSA 1040 storage arrays. Three out of ten were not displaying their web interface after about 200 days of uptime. This is not really a known problem for the HPE MSA 1040 :(. So it was time figure out a way to work around it.
After some time, I noticed there is a built-in FTP flash option. About two hours later I finally got the latest firmware installed.
I have made a write-up to do it yourself. It is not really a difficult procedure but you need a couple of items ready and the correct command to get it all working.
Flashing the HPE MSA 1040
Note: I have tested this procedure on a Windows 10 client. The FTP tool for uploading the firmware is the built-in from Windows.
Download the firmware from the HPE website.
Store the firmware files in the following folder (C:\Temp).
Extract the bin file from the downloaded bundle.
Make sure no workloads are running on the HPE MSA.
Start an SSH session with an available controller (no preferred choice between controller A & B)
Enable the FTP service on the controller with the command: “set protocols ftp enabled”.
Open a CMD shell (with administrator rights) on your workstation or management server.
Run the following commands:
# Navigate to C:\Temp
# Start FTP session
# Navigate to directory
# Upload firmware and start flash
put TS252P001.bin flash
# Close FTP session
# Go back to the SSH Session and disable the FTP service on the MSA
set protocols ftp disabled
2018-03-26 – Added feature image to page.
2018-11-17 – Updated article to support the new standards of the website.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.