Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together runs on vSphere 5.0


I have been working furiously on an updated version of the vTARDIS based around vSphere 5, and now it’s in the open (I was on the heavily NDA’d beta programme) the goal is the same: lowest cost possible physical hardware, but the ability to build complex production like ESX environments and run large amounts of virtual ESX hypervisors and guests.

This time round, and due to some VERY cool [UNSUPPORTED] features of ESX 5 you can run more than just clusters of nested ESX virtual machines as I did in the original vTARDIS, but you can also run all the following on a SINGLE physical server running vSphere 5 – this is seriously cool IMHO

  • Run 64-bit guests inside an ESX virtual machine (you couldn’t do this previously as it didn’t pass through the x64 extensions)
  • Run HyperV under ESX as a virtual machine, and allow it to run nested guests* and even build clusters of Hyper V servers
  • Run XenServers under ESX as a virtual machine and allow it to run nested guests – to be tested 
  • Fully stateless deployment of ESX guests using my former colleague’s amazing PXE Manager so no need to configure lots of hosts
  • Run large vSphere clusters
  • Multiple Virtual Storage Appliances

*I have had problems with the guests inside virtual Hyper-V nodes, more on this soon as I think it was just a config problem




In the past I used the HP ML1xx range of PC-servers, they’re great bits of kit but I was starting to run into challenges with the 8Gb RAM limit, so I have branched out a bit and gone for an HP DL380 G5 – yes it’s not quiet enough to put under your bed 😉 but they are reasonably cheap 2nd hand on eBay and more importantly they take up to 32Gb of RAM. and in day to day use it’s not too noisy

Total acquisition cost of this server as follows (all from eBay and out of my own pocket)

HP DL380 G5, 2 x dual core Xeon 2.0GHz, 8Gb RAM, 2 x 72Gb SAS disks, P400 array controller, redundant PSU, iLo advanced license. £550 (Refurbished)
6 x 72Gb 10k RPM SAS HP Disks £270 (Refurbished)
32Gb RAM £520 (!) ouch new.
Sold supplied 8Gb RAM kit from server -£150
Total Cost £1,190

This box has a good pedigree as you’ll see because it’s former owners didn’t erase the iLo settings before they decommissioned it (oops).



Whilst it’s noisy as hell, it seems surprisingly frugal when it comes to power consumption with approx 50% CPU load on the physical host




Local DAS array of 8 x 72Gb SFF hot-plug HP drives, I’m also backing them up to my Iomega NAS using Veeam Backup and Replication 5.



I did this work with the beta and Release Candidate (RC) builds of ESX and vCenter, I used the Windows vCenter installation rather than the appliance.


Next… The iTARDIS* more soon!


*Don’t try this at home.. you won’t be able to make it work (yet), there are some firmware issues that stop it working on a Mac Mini – but I had access to some internal resources whilst working at VMware to get around it

Stay tuned for step-by-step instructions

8 responses to “ runs on vSphere 5.0

  1. Pingback: vSphere 5 allows to run 64-bit nested guests and Hyper-V as a guest | UP2V

  2. harddrive41 July 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Awesome! I have a single system lab environment that is also my main PC. It’s pretty beefy, but I’ve been running VMware Workstation on it with 3 ESXi VM’s. I couldn’t run any 64bit this looks great!

  3. vibe666 August 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    just as an FYI, i’m not sure why the earlier HP ML100 G6’s were onyl advertised as supporting 8gb of RAM, but they do support 16gb and the newer G6’s do actually state that they support 16gb of RAM now.

    maybe they just hadn’t tested bigger config’s when they first brought them out or soemthing, i don’t know. just so you know that up to 16gb will definitely work and i’ve seen people running 12gb in a 2x4gb and 2x2gb config too and working fine.

  4. Pingback: vTARDIS 5 at a VMUG near you… « Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

  5. dscriven (@dscriven) November 6, 2011 at 12:05 am

    This is so cool, have been thinking about replacing my sc440’s with something a little meatier (8GB limit) and the vTardis project and the comments are giving me loads of ideas. Its a shame you didn’t have more than one slot on the UK vMug this week especially as the last breakouts were all vendor ones.

  6. Ralph February 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Nice. I’ve gone for a more portable(ish) vTardis type lab. A Dell Precision M6600 mobile workstation with 32GB RAM, 2nd-gen i7, 256GB SSD, 750GB SATA drive, and 1TB USB3 runs VMware Workstation 8, and I’ve followed your lead in the layout of my VMs, which was a great help. It does kind of bring this beast of a laptop down to a crawl, but at least I can take my lab to and from work on my bike.

  7. Paul Braren February 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Would also love to give ESXi 5.x a test-run on a mac mini someday, if I can convince the owner (my son) to let me 😉

  8. Pingback: iTARDIS vSphere on a Mac Mini « Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

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