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Building a RAID array for ESXi

godmodegodmode Southeast JapanRegistered User regular
Looking for any VMware pros that might be able to help:

I built a server at home. It's basic: 5 disks, a Xeon processor, and a bunch of RAM. Originally I intended to install FreeNAS on it, but then I discovered that I hate FreeNAS, especially its FreeBSD virtual suite BHyve. It's flaming trash and I won't be convinced otherwise. Instead I'd like to install ESXi, let's say version 6.5. I'll probably end up buying the 1-socket Essentials license at some point when I have a few hundred bucks laying around.
Installing the software is easy enough - I'm just putting the OS on a thumb drive. How do I create a RAID array for the underlying disks though? One nice feature of FreeNAS is that it lets you create a ZFS pool in the very beginning of your installation and it's all done through the interface, and I'm wondering how to accomplish the same thing on VMware. I'm comfortable enough with PowerCLI if it has to be done that way - I don't necessarily need a GUI solution. I'd like to create a RAID5 pool (Yes, I know everyone recommends RAID10 for virtuals), and make that pool one big VMware datastore. Creating a VMware Datastore is easy enough, but I'd like to make sure it's got 1 redundant disk and it wasn't clear if that's the case. I've been searching around on Google a bit but I haven't been finding any straightforward answers for what I'm trying to do on a single host. Is what I'm trying to do even possible?

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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    You'd create the RAID volume in your RAID controller's firmware.

    If you're expecting ESXi to let you pool non-RAID disks into some kind of software RAID volume... it doesn't do that.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    This is a feature of your hardware, completely independent of ESXi.

    If you know what kind of RAID controller you have then I (or somebody else here) could give you more details.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    godmodegodmode Southeast JapanRegistered User regular
    Aha, you are correct! It turns out my motherboard has RAID capability....locked behind a product activation. So I'll sort that out with Supermicro.

    I guess I was spoiled by FreeNAS' ZFS option, so I didn't even really think to check for that functionality at the hardware level. Thanks for the tip!

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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    Product activation? Yuck.

    Consider there is one other way you can shoehorn redundancy into a VMware environment. It's a bit kludgey but you can make it work.

    In ESXi, set up each physical disk as a separate datastore. Then when you roll out a VM, put one virtual disk in one datastore and a second virtual disk in the second datastore.

    Then configure software RAID inside the VM's operating system.

    I wouldn't do this in a production environment but for a test lab it's probably fine.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    godmodegodmode Southeast JapanRegistered User regular
    Ha, I had considered that. I didn't really feel like doing it because I do plan on creating a file server and a media server, maybe building a whole home domain. So while it doesn't need to be datacenter quality, I would like it to be mostly neat and legit.

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