Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T vSAN dream is alive! Home lab video overview features (unsupported) Intel SSDs and Samsung M.2 SSDs

Posted by Paul Braren on Oct 10 2015 (updated on Jan 17 2017) in
  • Virtualization
  • Storage
  • Efficiency
  • This hardware is not on the VMware vSAN Compatibility Guide. For All Flash vSAN, you are supposed to use enterprise storage with PLP (Power Loss Protection / Super Capacitors), and pass through drive controllers that have high queue depths (which SATA doesn't have). See also Requirements and considerations for the deployment of VMware vSAN (2068911), and this related discussion about issues when trying the Samsung SM961 and Micron 7100. Home lab enthusiasts will try anyway, but you've been warned, attempting such tests is done at your own risk, knowing full well that you are completely unsupported in doing so.

    Original article appears below.

    I had this burning desire to know what it would be like to have 3 identical SuperServers in my home lab. Who doesn't? The idea was to build out an actual Virtual SAN, aka, vSAN 6.1, without having to do any nesting for my testing. This idea grew more possible as I watched VMware's Peter Keilty present at my local Hartford, CT VMUG USERCON back in May. Original tweet with many replies here. I think of vSAN as a way to distribute your SSDs capacity in a RAID that spans multiple hosts (servers). It's all presented as a single datastore. This is software-defined storage, see setup steps.

    In the end, I had only about one day to test the recently released vSAN 6.1 that arrived with vSphere 6.0 Update 1. I didn't quite get the All Flash license key working, not sure why. I did find that special key in my EVALExperience portal, but I couldn't seem to get the vSphere Web Client to allow me to configure All Flash storage, as will be seen in upcoming video.

    I worked around this by flagging 3 2.5" Intel SSDs, one per host, as HDDs. They became the primary storage pool, with M.2 SSDs doing the read/write caching. I wasn't focused on speed testing anyway, given I don't yet have 10GbE working, so my focus was really just on getting a feel for how the whole setup and usage worked, and how it responds to a host failure (abrupt SuperServer IPMI power off)

    These vSAN ideas initially came to me after I had read about this little but very capable SuperServer system way back in March, and before I could even order in June. Well, thanks to a lot of leg work with finding the right contacts, I managed to convince Supermicro and Wiredzone to loan me two additional SuperServers for September, which greatly helped for my cross country travels including a user group demonstration, and the ability to make the below informal video. Yes, it was quite a bit of fun!

    While I would have preferred to use (currently unsupported) 10GbE coupled with storage that's on the VMware vSAN compatibility list, borrowers can't be choosers. Having temporary access to 3 Intel SSDs and 3 Samsung M.2 drives sure worked out well for my tinkering. This was a fantastic opportunity.

    I have many more videos and articles coming up soon. As a matter of fact, I have one ready for you right here, right now!

    Video contains some disk speed comparisons, a peek at my temporary vSAN, and an overview of my vSphere 6.0 lab.

    See also at TinkerTry

    See also