VM Ware server set up at my previous employer’s office

I’m writing this from memory so some of the details might be sketchy.

At my last employer in Japan (the place where I took the intro photograph to this site), I was tasked with setting up a basic server to run MySQL. The TL;DR version was that there was a Windows 7 PC that was running MySQL that had data from which reports on Japan’s biggest convenience store chain were run. If this Win 7 PC failed the data would be lost, plus the “server” was underpowered. There was a proposal from a vendor for several thousands of dollars to set up a new server, a new UPS and backup system.

Since we had a second physical server which was not even set up and it was already on the UPS, it seemed foolish to me to purchase and install another one for a PC running MySQL, particularly when it was only being used once a week. I had to set up the disk array, install ESXi, install Linux as one VM, and create a backup routine to our file server which got backed up nightly off site.

Step 1: Set up the disk array

RAID 10 is all the rage these days, but this server wasn’t spec’d for that, so I figured RAID 5 would be the best choice. This server had 4 1.8 TB disks so with RAID 5 we’d have 5.1 TB of storage which was MORE than we’d ever need (the MySQL database was about 10 GB after 7 years, so even 500 GB of total space for this server would be fine).

After fixing a boot issue (one of the engineers tried setting up this server earlier but he didn’t understand what UEFI is and he couldn’t get the server to boot into Linux via a USB drive), I went into the controller to set up RAID. Using the controller, I set up a RAID 5 array:

RAID setup

Great, all set. Now reboot and let’s run ESXi setup. I’ll select the disk volume and get going.

Step 2: install ESXi manager

ESXi installer

Hmmm…no array, it only sees the individual disks. Something doesn’t look right here.  Long story short, after going back into the controller setup, RAID 5 was no longer set up and it only had individual disks again. After running around with this after several passes, I searched for help on the Lenovo forums. First thing was I booted onto a Linux boot disk and check the hardware. I needed which controller was being used, and found this:

I looked up this controller on the hardware compatibility list (HCL) for VMWare, so I’m stumped. Time to turn to the Lenovo forums. This is a reply I got:

(thread is short but can be found here)

But since I checked the hardware compatibility list, it showed this controller as being compatible. I had to reply:

 

Regrettably, I was still going to be sunk:

According to Lenovo support apparently this server’s controller won’t support RAID arrays with ESXi and will require an expensive upgrade.  Ugh.

So skipping straight to the solution:

I had to set up 4 individual disks, with the last one serving as a backup for the virtual machines on the other 3 disks. Since the backup volume ALSO maxed out at 1.8 TB, I made sure the other 3 disks were only 600 GB or less so they could back up to the fourth disk. I also ensured that the MySQL database was backed up to another file server so in case the database became corrupted it was backed up.

So final tally:

3 VMs x 600 GB -> Backed up to 1.8 TB volume (which itself was backed up once every 3 months). The remaining 1.2 TB per volume would be unused at the moment.

1 MySQL database (roughly 10 GB) backed up to a file server once a week (it was only used once a week)

Each of the backups listed above was backed up to our file server, which was backed up nightly offsite.

This solution wasn’t ideal but it would work.

Hello Wo– nope, not going to say that!

The phrase that rhymes with “Mellow Whirled” has been BANNED from anything I write involving programming! I’ve read books that show you how to print “He*lo W*rld” on the screen, how to make “He*lo Wo*ld” in all caps, all lower case, reversed order, etc. But I’m sick of these exercises. On this website you’ll only see PRACTICAL uses of programming to solve real problems. So now, the phrase that sounds like “Shmellow Curled” will NOT be used here.