Thinking of setting up a VM Environment at home, questions

Discussion in 'Virtualized Computing' started by jnick, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. jnick

    jnick 2[H]4U

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    At first, I was going to setup a dedicated machine running Server 2012/2016 and use it as a Plex server. However, I now want to setup video surveillance and plan to use the server as an NVR. With that said, I began thinking, maybe instead of one machine with multiple functions, I should look at setting up a VM environment so I can have dedicated VMs for my purposes.

    I do use VMware all day at work and am familiar with the setup process and the UI, etc. However, this is with Cisco UCS/IBM M3s and SANs. I've never looked at setting up ESXi on something such as a dedicated machine with a bunch of internal drives.

    With that said, and for my purposes, what do you think I'm better off doing? A VM environment so I can sping up my two main servers and then have the ability to play and test on other machines? Also the ability to snapshot before upgrading versions, etc?

    If so, I'm torn on using VMware or Hyper-V. I've never touched Hyper-V so that would be a whole new learning experience. Where as I don't know if VMware will be compatible with my hardware or even be able to perform the way I want it to being I'm not doing a SAN, etc.

    My hardware is listed below:

    Intel Core i3-6100
    Gigabyte B150 Mobo
    16GB of RAM
    650W eVGA PSU
    Intel PCI-E Multiple NIC card (haven't bought yet but plan to)
    Samsung 940 Pro 256GB SSD (Main Drive)

    What are your thoughts? Before I had the idea of virtual machines, I figured the i3-6100 would be more than enough power (and energy efficient) to handle a Plex server for internal LAN streaming. Now I'm not so sure if the i3 would handle Plex AND the NVR (would not have to transcode on the server with Plex), let alone spinning up added machines.

    Unfortunately, everything was bought over the course of a year, and while they still remain unopen, I'm well past my return period to think about swapping them for a dual-xeon setup.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  2. jlbenedict

    jlbenedict Gawd

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    That i3-6100 should be able to transcode two streams easily (if it had to, depending on your clients). According to the Passmark, it would fall short of being able to transcode three streams, without putting a hurtin on it..
     
  3. Outlaw85

    Outlaw85 Limp Gawd

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    I can't speak to the specific hardware you are wanting to use but I am running a setup like you want (with server hardware).

    I went ESXi for the same reason, it's what we use at work so it will help me learn .
    Internal storage is not an issue. It is similar to hyper-converged.. maybe a little more crude in form though. It's the same process to add it as you would your SAN storage at work.

    I would recommend putting ESXi on a usb/sd card though if the 256GB is your only storage.
     
  4. jnick

    jnick 2[H]4U

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    I planned to have ESX on the SSD and then everything else on 2-4TB WD RED or Seagate Ironwolfs. Is that not a good idea? Or are you suggesting I use the SSD for the OS drives of the VM?

    When it comes to storage, I'm used to using win server with drive pool. Creating a volume and then snapraid for redundancy.

    Is there any way in ESX to have the internal drives act as a single volume? I'm trying to figure out the best way to have a share for the NVR and Plex which will store the multimedia.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  5. muz_j

    muz_j Limp Gawd

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    https://communities.vmware.com/thread/480571
     
  6. Outlaw85

    Outlaw85 Limp Gawd

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    Sorry if I missed it. I thought the 256 was the only drive. You can certainly use it for ESXi but 95%+ will be wasted.. yes you can create partitions but not really recommended. You could use the SSD for other things IMO even if using the 2-4TB drives. IIRC, with multiple drives, you may be able to mess around with caching or just use as standalone for a VM you want on ssd.


    Just my opinion on how i think it would work. I've never used either the way you are wanting to
    For Plex and NVR, you may still need to setup a Windows VM like you have before for external file share, yes there are other options (hopefully someone can chime in here with more info).

    I know the support has dwindled but it may be worth exploring xpenology which does have packages for Plex (how i use mine currently) and some NVR's although I'm not sure on compatibility.



    What do you have the current NVR and Plex running on? My concern with the hardware going virtual would be the NVR feeds competing with Plex for CPU and potentially network.
     
  7. jnick

    jnick 2[H]4U

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    Right now PMS is running on my gaming machine. However, I'm running out of space on my data drives since it's a multipurpose machine and I don't really like having to rely on that machine for Plex (ie: on 24/7, if I'm using for gaming/photo work and someone starts streaming, etc.).

    I currently do not have an NVR. Over the past year, I worked towards getting PoE in the house, which I did. Once the server is built, I plan to use Xprotect and start buying cameras to do a IP cam system for the house, so this is an add-new.

    I'm wondering if I would be better off using Hyper-V. If I'm not mistaken, that would have a Windows server base OS, which I can run drive pool to create my main storage, and then I would be able to allow Hyper V VMs to hit that storage pool? Just thinking out-loud...
     
  8. Outlaw85

    Outlaw85 Limp Gawd

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    It's definitely a deal breaker to game and stream on same box lol.

    That Xprotect seems cool. Free for upto 8 cameras too is pretty nice. I would keep an eye on bandwidth and CPU/MEM though just to make sure your not maxing out. NICs are fairly cheap if needing to add one and you can dedicate to VMs if necessary. CPU and Memory may be more limiting though requiring settings to be adjusted.

    As for the Hyper-V. I cannot speak to any of it. I've never used or set it up before. But if you are able to use it to share out storage directly to other physical machines, it may be worth it. Using ESXi will require another VM of some sort to act as a file server, at least to my knowledge.
     
  9. jnick

    jnick 2[H]4U

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    Thanks, Outlaw. A co-worker of mine suggested I look into VM Workstation Pro, as it's a bit less restrictive in requiring enterprise grade setups and claim I'll be able to use my internal storage because it's an app that's running inside of win server, for example. Would that be a less convoluted method?
     
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  10. mrwizardno2

    mrwizardno2 Limp Gawd

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    When I had ESXi set up on my lab gear, I ran it from a USB drive and used the internal storage for guests. VMs run stupid fast from SSD.

    That being said, I got tired of the wacky changes to VCenter (going all web-ui and losing the console was painful in the beginning, but I hear it's better now?) so I switched to Hyper-V.

    My lab runs on Server 2016 Enterprise (Full install, not Core) which pretty much requires to be installed on a regular drive. No USB boot for Windoze unless you're doing Windows to Go (Client OS only). It has been awesome so far.

    My advice is use whatever you're most comfortable with. Hyper-V had some quirks I had to get used to, but it also was more flexible with device pass through to my guest VMs. Since I run a substantial amount of storage for a media server, I wanted to pass disks into a guest individually for SnapRaid. Hyper-V supports this natively if you offline them in the host OS. You can also use the Host for storage sharing if that's what you're after.

    Hopefully this helps!
     
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  11. InorganicMatter

    InorganicMatter Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Not entirely sure what you are asking.

    I have an SSD set up as a volume for ESXI to use (config, OS drives, etc). I use the RDM feature of ESXI to pass storage hard drives through to my various VMs.
     
  12. Outlaw85

    Outlaw85 Limp Gawd

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    Unless your in a rush with the hardware you're going to use. I know it would take some time. But I would try to give each one a test run. At least the Hyper-V and VM Workstation Pro. I agree with mrwizardno2. Use what your going to be comfortable with in the end. You don't want to get everything running as "prod" and then decide it's not for you. Then it becomes of a PITA and not a fun hobby or not, that's your call :).

    To address mrwizardno2 call out on vCenter.
    Yes. they are definitely shifting away from the thick client BUT there are still a lot of things that can be done through either (thick or web). I haven't touched 6.5 but am running 6.0 at home and work and it's been a fairly smooth transition. I try to use the web client as much as I can for that day when vmware kills the thick client.
     
  13. Seagate_Surfer

    Seagate_Surfer Official Seagate Rep

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    You may also want to take a look at Seagate SkyHawk surveillance drives. They have a lot of the same workload ratings (24x7 rating, 180TB/year) that people enjoy with NAS-rated drives, but are more engineered for video recording use seen in surveillance like DVR and NVR. Here is the spec sheet if you'd like to give them a look. Their workload is more ideal for surveillance because the ImageClear firmware is optimized for heavy write usage and ideal for situations where the drive is writing roughly 90% of the time and reading the other 10% so as to minimize dropped frames and potentially run large amounts of cameras if needed.

    Regardless of which drive you determine is right for you in the end, thank you for considering Seagate.
     
  14. Eulogy

    Eulogy 2[H]4U

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    Thick client doesn't work at all in 6.5.
     
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  15. Riouken

    Riouken Limp Gawd

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    I had my home server on ESXI, then Hyper-V and now I just migrated to Zen server with Zen Orchestra.

    Hands down zen is the best for home setups in my opinion. Unless your going to by a full vmware licence(which with that hardware I doubt you are) you are going to run into a lot of limitations with ESXI Free.

    My host is a Dell R710 with (2) Intel X5570

    I run my Openflixr VM(includes Plex) with 8 cores.

    I used to run my HTPC software on a windows vm, couchpatato,sickrage,sabnzab, mylar etc... but it was not very stable. had lots of crashes.

    It has been rock solid since I switched my HTPC over to a linux vm.
     
  16. geiger

    geiger Limp Gawd

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    I have a 2(3) server setup that does exactly what you are looking at doing.
    -File Server(I have HP Microserver Gen7 running Oi/Nappit)
    -HP Microserver Gen8 with Xeon 1230 swap running Hyper-V

    Hyper-V box runs 2 domain controllers and a Plex VM. I stream 720/1080 to Rokus and xbox360s throughout the house.

    In the longrun, virtualized media storage is more trouble than it's worth. Break libraries up at logical boundaries and use plex's cataloging.
     
  17. TeleFragger

    TeleFragger Gawd

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    interesting read on all of this. I run my plex server on a desktop tower...

    something to consider is the devices that will hit the server. if you use roku's - they do the transcoding and alieve a lot of overhead from the server.
    sorry that is all I can contribute to this thread...

    my setup includes nothing virtual but a full blown live tv/dvr/com skip/plex stream.. - pm me if you want to see my youtube channel with 7 videos from start to finish (didn't wanna hijack too much)