vSphere 4.1u3 on a brand new R720?

Kind of hard to believe it, but the ESX 4 cluster mentioned back in 2010 has essentially been the same since it was put in, except for the addition of a third, slightly newer node. And the Test/Dev cluster has also been stagnant since late 2008. But, the times they are a changing.

We’ve received 3 Dell PowerEdge R720s with 256G of RAM, some spinning disk (call me old fashioned), 2x10Gb and 6x1Gb ethernet and 2x 8Gb FibreChannel. (Seeing 16 16GB DIMMS in a single server is pretty darn cool.) These are becoming our new “Production” nodes and the current Production R710s will hand-me-down to the Test/Dev cluster, much like my 3 year old has been wearing his brothers old clothes.

I’ve decided to keep the production nodes on ESX 4.1 and make the Test/Dev nodes the first to upgrade to ESXi 5.0. (Only 5.0 because our backup vendor does not yet support 5.1…). So, this meant updating my install point and script for 4.1 yet again. First, the install point had to go up to ESX 4.1u3, it’s the minimum that supports the PERC H310 (aka MegaRAID “Skinny”) controller. Then I had to add a couple driver installs to the post-install procedure: the add-in Broadcom 5719 4 port card and an updated megaraid_sas driver. The megaraid_sas update fixes a troublesome issue where the CPU utilization on the service console would go high and the management agents would never work and it also keeps OpenManage 7.1 from complaining about an outdated driver.

Next up is migrating our nodes over to a new vCenter Server 5.0 host and testing and refining my ESXi 5.0 install script on the R710s. The ESXi 5.0 install script is based off an excellent post over at YellowBricks.

Hopefully the vRAM licensing restrictions in 5.0 won’t come back to bite me too hard once we are ready to upgrade the R720s. The Test/Dev PE 2950s have 32G of RAM, they should make decent Windows Server 2012 and HyperV test hosts.

And, once all this is done at the day job, I really need to get the night/weekend gig up to vCenter Server 5.1 and ESXi 5.1, since Veeam Backup&Replication has supported it since v6.5 was released. But the SSO install still scares me quite a bit.

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