So, I’ve built a custom server using the following components:

  • AMD Eypc 24-core CPU
  • AsrockRack EPYCD8-2T mobo
  • 1x SSD (for OS)
  • 7x SATA drives
  • 2x NVMe SSDs

The goal is to build a VMware ESXi server and add it to my home lab cluster.

In the past, I would almost always use old enterprise gear, and so would be using the RAID cards included in those Dell/Lenovo/HP servers. This time, I wanted to get away from used Enterprise gear and go all brand-new.

I have a VMUG subscription, so access to all of the VMware bells and whistles.

Is there a way I can create a RAID-like array within VMware so that I have some fault tolerance on my disk array? Does vSAN help at all here? Or must I go out and buy a RAID card?

I’m curious about this too. I haven’t seen any options for this that were particularly compelling to me. Even vSAN I’m guessing (never used it) that it would require multiple hosts.

One option I considered was a 2.5" enclosure for 2 M.2 SATA SSDs that has built in raid-1. Both the enclosure and drives can be found for cheap. However, I don’t think there is any way to know about a failure. It’s an inexpensive option though.

I’m going to try a used h330. It was relatively inexpensive on ebay and appears to be on the support list for ESXi 8. But I’m not particularly excited about this solution. I genuinely wonder if the probability of failure will be any better through a used raid card than a single SSD. (But it’s homelab/learning experience, and I would back up anything important anyways, since raid isn’t a backup strategy.)

I have 7x SATA drives, and (unless I’ve misunderstood something) EPYC/mobo does not support hardware raid. So, although I know this isn’t supported by VMware, but as this is a home lab, I’m inquiring whether it’s possible to use vSAN as a replacement for a RAID card and use it to stripe the data across the local storage.

Then, when I’m ready to build out a multi-node vSAN cluster one day in the future, I would do vSAN the “proper way” vis-a-vis networked and pooled storage.