Intel NUC 9 Extreme for VMware ESXi

I recently setup an Intel NUC 9 Extreme with ESXi and found the included printed instructions a little vague. Here are some photos to show what the internals look like and where to install the RAM and NVMe M.2 devices.

What I like about the Intel NUC 9 Extreme:

  • Very compact form factor with loads of options
  • Has the NUC9VXQNX option for Intel Xeon E-2286M CPU 8 core (16 H/T) @ 2.4GHz Processor
  • Has Slots for 3 NVMe M.2 Devices (needed for vSAN config)
    • 1 Baseboard slot for ESXi Boot (42/80/110mm slot)
    • 2 Intel CPU Module Slots for vSAN Cache and Capacity drives (42/80/110mm slot & 42/80mm slot)
  • Supports up to 64GB SODIMM RAM
  • Two additional PCIe Slots for GPU & more NICs, if required
  • Has two USB-C ports for 10GbE adapters, if required
  • Two onboard 1GbE ports for management vmnics
  • ESXi 7.0.1 installs cleanly and runs without extra customization
  • Only need a small Phillips head screw driver to disassemble the NUC and install the RAM and NVMe M.2 devices

Intel NUC 9 Front, Rear and with top cover off

Intel NUC 9 sides with covers on and off

Intel NUC 9 Baseboard (with NVMe M.2 device heat-sink removed) and Intel CPU Module with SODIMM RAM modules and NVMe M.2 devices installed



#VMworld US 2017 vSAN Announcement

VMware SABU has announced the “HCI Acceleration Kit”. Which allows enterprises to deploy vSAN, including single socket hardware, for under $25K per site for ROBO, distributed site use-cases. These types of deployments are typically seen in the retail, healthcare, oil/gas, military and manufacturing sectors.

Continue reading #VMworld US 2017 vSAN Announcement

vSAN Design Considerations

I have gone through the vSAN 6.2 Design and Sizing Guide, the vSAN 6.2 Network Design Guide and the vSAN 6.2 Stretched Cluster & 2 Node Guide (230+ pages) and aggregated all of the design decisions, design considerations and best practices into one page of bullet points that is easy to consume. If you read any other articles on my blog, you will realise that I am very fond of condensed lists and summarized bullet points. Here is a comprehensive list of resources for all things vSAN.

If you are interested in Nutanix HCI design, I also have my design decision summary for ESXi and AHV.

Continue reading vSAN Design Considerations

Announcement – VMware VSAN 6.2

VMware Virtual SAN version 6.2 has been announced.  Two big improvements are the inclusion of Data Integrity (checksum on write and read) and improved UI integration into the vSphere Web Client.

This is the fourth major release of VSAN functionality.  VMware is definitely taking this product seriously and trying to evolve VSAN to a true enterprise-grade SDS stack.

If you are a customer that has an extensive investment in the VMware eco-system from a people, process and technology perspective, then VSAN could be a good choice if you are dipping your toes into the HCI space for a small part of your infrastructure.  Use-cases such as Management, DMZ, PCI, Dev/Test and EUC Clusters are a great fit, in my opinion.  If you are selecting an enterprise-wide solution for mission/business critical applications, then a more mature SDS vendor would be worth considering to minimise risk.

Continue reading Announcement – VMware VSAN 6.2

VSAN Quick-Config Guide

Five months ago I built my home lab with VSAN and performance tested it (with the default policy).  It turns out I was missing a key part of the configuration: the “Service Provider URLs”.  Here is the complete VMware Virtual SAN configuration process for a home lab.

Continue reading VSAN Quick-Config Guide

Baby Dragon Triplets – VSAN Performance Testing

I previously posted about my “Baby Dragon Triplets” VSAN Home Lab that I recently built.  One of the design requirements was to meet 5,000 IOPS @ 4K 50/50 R/W, 100% Random, which from the performance testing below has been met. Continue reading Baby Dragon Triplets – VSAN Performance Testing

Baby Dragon Triplets – VSAN Home Lab

Allow me to introduce Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion, my three host, “VSAN Baby Dragon” Home Lab.  Straight from “Game Of Thrones”, if you are wondering what the names mean.  I finally bit the bullet and invested in some new kit to move away from the limited Embedded ESXi lab I was running on my MacBook Air.  I sourced everything from the Computer Souq in Riyadh, since I did not want to wait for shipping, which can be expensive.  I have provided the details for anyone who wants a vSphere lab that works without the head scratching. Continue reading Baby Dragon Triplets – VSAN Home Lab