Planning for a homelab with an HP Proliant DL380 G7

So I got caught up with the idea of running a rack mount server at home and setting up virtualization to run a ‘bunch-o-stuff’. As you do. Having never done anything with enterprise server hardware before (although I did recently set up Proxmox virtualization on my Mac Pro), naturally I have a ton of questions:

  • Should I run ESXi or Proxmox?
  • The DL380 has 8 hot-swappable 2.5″ drive bays. What’s the minimum number of disks needed to run, and do you need to configure a RAID array? Question here. A: Yes you do need to configure a RAID array, apparently it can’t be disabled. So you need 2 disks at a minimum for RAID0 (striped) or RAID1 (mirrored). See also HP Smart Array Controller docs here.
  • What about RAID10, what I understand is a combination of 0 + 1. See article here.
  • Can you run regular laptop 2.5 disks, or do they have to be ‘midline’ or enterprise? This seems like a hotly debated question with many varying opinions. The answer is probably ‘it depends’, at least on what you’re planning to use your server for. e.g. is it doing to be running 24/7, are you going to have more than 2 drives (more may cause vibrations that regular laptop drives may not be constructed to handle). A consistent answer if you’re not going to go with the HP branded/supported disks, is that WD Red drives, intended for use in NAS appliances, will work reliably in a rack server. Everything else is YMMV. I’m going with a pair of cheap HGST 500GB drives in RAID1 to get started, and then might add a couple of WD Blacks or Reds for more storage later.
  • 10k and 15k SAS drives are new to me, I’m more familiar with SATA. This might be something I’ll check out. The 146GB capacity seems a common size, but that’s rather small if I’m going to create a bunch of VMs. They’re pretty cheap at around $30 though, so could easily pick up a few for a RAID array.

So many options 🙂