Network core switch Cisco Nexus 3064PQ

Here is my new network core switch for the Home Datacenter, a Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE.

Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE (48x SFP+ & 4x QSFP+)

Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE (48x SFP+ & 4x QSFP+)

But before I speak more about the Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE, let me just bring you back in time… Two years ago, I purchased a Cisco SG500XG-8F8T 16-port 10-Gigabit Stackable Managed Switch. This was first described in my Homelab 2014 build. This was my most expensive networking investment I ever did. During the past two years, as the lab grew, I used the SG500XG and two SG500X-24 for my networking stack. This stack is still running on the firmware.


During these past two years, I have learned the hard way that network chipsets for 10GbE using RJ-45 cabling was outputting so much more heat than the SFP+ chipset. My initial Virtual SAN Hybrid implementation using a cluster of three ESXi host with Supermicro X9SRH-7TF (Network chipset is Intel X540-AT2) crashed more than once, when the network chipset became so hot that I lost my 10G connectivity, but the ESXi host kept on running. Only a powerdown & cool off of the motherboard, would allow my host to restart with the 10G connectivity. This also lead me to expand the VSAN Hybrid cluster from three to four hosts and to have a closer look at the heating issues when running 10G over RJ45.

Small business network switches with 10GBase-T connectivity are more expensive than the more enterprise oriented SFP+ switch, but they also output so much more heat (Measured in BTU/hr). Sure once the 10GBase-T switch is purchased, the cost of Category 6A cables is cheaper than getting the Passive Copper cables, who are limited to 7 meters.

The Cisco SG500XG-8F8T is a great switch as it allows me to connect using both RJ-45 and SFP+ cables.

As the lab expanded, I started to ensure that my new hosts have either no 10GBase-T adapters on the motherboard, or use the SFP+ adapter (Like my recent X10SDV-4C-7TP4F ESXi host). I have started using the Intel X710 Dual SFP+ adapters on some of my host. I like this Intel network adapter, as the network chipset gives out less heat than previous generations chipset, and has a firmware update function that can done from the command prompt inside of vSphere 6.0.

This brings me to the fact that I was starting to run out of SFP+ ports as the labs expands. I have found on ebay some older Cisco Nexus switch, and the one that caught my eye for it’s amount of ports, it price and it’s capabilities is the Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE. These babies are going for about $1200-$1500 on ebay now.


The switch comes with 48-ports SFP+ and 4-ports in QSFP+ format. These four ports can be configured in either 16x10G using fan-out cables or 4x40G. This is a software command that can be put on the switch to change from one mode to the other.

Here is my switch with the interface output. I’m using a Get-Console Airconsole to extend the console port to my iPad over Bluetooth.


My vSphere 6.0 host is now connected to the switch using an Intel XL710-QDA2 40GbE network adapter and a QSFP+ copper cable.


I’m going to use the four QSFP+ connectors on the Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE to connect my Compute cluster with NSX and VSAN All-Flash.



The switch came with NX-OS 5.0(3)U5(1f).



Concerning the heat output of the Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE (datasheet) I was pleasantly surprised to note that it’s output is rather small at 488 BTU/hr when all 48 SFP+ are used. I also noted that the noise level of the fans was linked to the fan speed and the charge of the switch. Going from 59 dBA at 40% duty cycle to 66 dBA at 60% duty cycle to 71 dBA when at 100% duty cycle.

Here is the back of the Cisco Nexus 3064PQ-10GE. I did purchase the switch with a DC power (top of switch to the right), because the switch I wanted had both the LAN_BASE_SERVICES and the LAN_ENTERPRISE_SERVICES license. I sourced two N2200-PAC-400W-B power supply from another place.


Link to the Cisco Nexus 3064PQ Architecture.


Intel Xeon D-1518 (X10SDV-4C-7TP4F) ESXi & Storage server build notes

These are my build notes of my last server. This server is based around the Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F motherboard that I already described in my previous article (Bill-of-Materials). For the Case I select a Fractal Design Node 804 square small chassis. It is described as being able to handle upto 10x 3.5″ disks.

Fractal Design Node 804

Here is the side view where the motherboard can be fitted. It supports MiniITX, MicroITX and the FlexATX of the Supermicro motherboard. Two 3.5″ harddrives or 2.5″ SSD can be fitted on the bottom plate.


The right section of the chassis, contains the space for eight 3.5″ harddrives, fixed in two sliding frame at the top.


Let’s compare the size of the Chassis, the Power Supply Unit and the Motherboard in the next photo.

Fractal Design Node 804, Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F and Corsair RM750i

Fractal Design Node 804, Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F and Corsair RM750i

When you zoom in the the picture above, you can see three red squares on the bottom right of the motherboard. Before you inser the motherboard in the chassis, you might want to make sure you have moved the mSATA pin from the position on the photo to the 2nd position, otherwise you will not be able to attach the mSATA to the chassis. You need to unscrew the holding grommet from below the motherboard. People having purchased the Supermicro E300-8D will have a nasty surprise. The red square in the center of the motherboard is set for M.2 sticks at the 2280 position. If you have a M.2 storage stick 22110, you better move the holding grommet also.

Here is another closer view of the Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F motherboard with the two Intel X552 SFP+ connectors, and the 16 SAS2 ports managed by the onboard LSI 2116 SAS Chipset.


In the next picture you see the mSATA holding grommet moved to accommodate the Samsung 850 EVO Basic 1TB mSATA SSD, and the Samsung SM951 512GB NVMe SSD in the M.2 socket.


In the next picture we see the size of the motherboard in the Chassis.At the top left, you will see a feature of the Fractal Design Node 804. A switch that allows you to change the voltage of three fans. This switch is getting it’s electricity thru a SATA power connector. It’s on this power switch, that I was able to put a Y-power cable and then drive the Noctua A6x25 PWM CPU fan that fits perfectly on top of the CPU heatsink. This allowed me to bring down the CPU heat buildup during the Memtest86+ test from 104c to 54c.

X10SDV in Node 804

I used two spare Noctua Fan on CPU Heatsink fixer to hold the Noctua A6x25 PWM on the Heatsink, and a ziplock to hold those two fixers together (sorry I’m not sure if we have a proper name for those metal fixing brackets). Because the Noctua is getting it’s electricity from the Chassis and not the Motherboard, the Supermicro BIOS is not attemping to increase/decrease the Fan’s rpm. This allows me to keep a steady air flow on the heatsink.

Noctua A6x25 PWM fixed on heatsink

Noctua A6x25 PWM fixed on heatsink

I have fitted my server with a single 4TB SAS drive. To do this I use a LSI SAS Cable L5-00222-00 shown here.


This picture shows the 4TB SAS drive in the left most storage frame. Due to the length of the adapter, the SAS cable would be blocked by the Power Supply Unit. I will only be able to expand to 4x 3.5″ SAS disk in this chassis. Using SATA drives, the chassis would take upto 10 disks.

Node 804 Storage and PSU side

View from the back once all is assembled and powered up.


This server with an Intel Xeon D-1518 and 128GB is part of my Secondary Site chassis.


The last picture shows my HomeDC Secondary Site. The Fractal Design Node 804 is sitting next to a Fractal Design Define R5. The power consumption is rated at 68 Watts for a X10SDV-4C-7TP4F with two 10GbE SFP+ Passive Copper connection, two SSDs and a single 4TB SAS drive.

HomeDC Secondary Site

HomeDC Secondary Site

Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F server Bill-of-Materials

Another new host has joined the Home Datacenter (#HomeDC). This one is my first low powered Intel Xeon D-1500 server I get my hands on. There have been some great install guides about other Supermicro X10SDV motherboards on many sites, and I would recommend that you head over to Paul Braren’s (@tinkertry) TinkerTry site for a lot of great content. There are now also two small server from Supermicro that came out E200-8D and E300-8D. The motherboard I selected for my new host closely matches the one on the Supermicro E300-8D, described on TinkerTry.

I was looking for a motherboard that had great storage capabilities, 10G connectivity and low powered. As my Home Datacenter (#HomeDC) is growing, I find myself using more and more 10G SFP+ connectivity. This 10G SFP+ connectivity consumes less watts in the chipset, creating less heat inside the servers. SFP+ connecitivty allows me to use cheaper network switches. 10G Ethernet with RJ45 has a price premium, even if the Category 6A cables are cheaper than Passive Copper SFP+ cables.

I selected the Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F motherboard, it has a 7 year product life, support two SFP+ 10G connection, comes with a LSI/AVAGO 2116 SAS/SATA chipset with a total of 16 SAS ports. More than enough for a storage server. It comes with a M.2 socket and a mSATA socket. The Intel Xeon D-1518 is a quad cores processor running at 2.2Ghz. All in all a very good selection of specifications on such a small FlexATX motherboard.


The X10SDV series of motherboards come with the Intel X552 dual 10G network card. In case you are experiencing network connectivity issues, it is important to make sure your motherboard has the proper firmware. When I received my motherboard with the default bios 1.0, it gave me a serious scare. I was unable to get the two 10G links up with my Cisco SG500X and SG500XG switches. I had to upgrade to version 1.0a and clear the CMOS to get it to work.

I’ve been a long time user of the Fractal Design cases, and I wanted to have something small for the FlexATX, yet with lots of space for adding disks. So I selected the Fractal Design Node 804 cube chassis that supports MicroATX, MiniATX and the FlexATX like the Supermicro X10SDV series. The Node 804 is capable of having upto 10x 3.5″ disks. The case comes with three fans and a fan selector that is powered by a SATA power connector, so fans can run independant of the motherboard connectors. This is very usefull when you add a small Noctua NF-A6x25 PWM fan on top of the CPU heat sink. It is not spinning-up and down at the whim of the Supermicro motherboard choosing. I also liked the square look of the chassis.


For my power supply, I have decided to change from my usual Enermax for a Corsair RM750i power supply. I wanted a power supply that was capable of driving a lot of disks if I decided to increase the amount of disks, and a power supply that would be quiet under low power consumption. As you see below plenty of expansions and a power supply that stays fan-less until it it’s 45% of it’s charge. I added a Seagate Enterprise Capacity 4TB SAS drive in the chassis and when it’s running vSphere with some quiet VMs, the system is only consuming 69 Watts.


The Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F comes with the following expansions for storage.

  • 2 PCI-E 3.0 x8 slots
  • Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x4
  • Form Factor: M Key 2242/2280/22110
  • Support SATA devices
Mini PCI-E
  • Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x1
  • Support mSATA

In the M.2 socket, I added a Samsung SM951 512GB NVMe Solid State Disk and in the Mini PCI-E, I added the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB Basic Solid State Disk. The mSATA drive is used as the Boot device and to have a large datastore to keep VMs local to the host. The Samsung SM951 512GB NVMe SSD can be used for the caching part of a VSAN design or a rfcache when running scaleIO.

Another up front warning, before you place this motherboard in a chassis, you need to make sure to un-screw the mSATA holder stick to the right position, so you can use a standard mSATA. There is a tiny screw on top and bottom of the mSATA holding bolt.

The Supermicro X10SDV-4C-7TP4F CPU cooling is done with a passive CPU heat sink. But during the initial memory testing, I have found that the IPMI CPU Sensor was showing Critical heat warning during a memtest86+ run. I decided to add the Noctua A6X25 PWM fan on top of Xeon D-1518 processor. The fit is perfect, and when this fan is connected on the chassis fan subsystem (see the top right section in the photo at the bottom) the critical heat issues disappeared.

So let’s recap the Bill-of-Materials (BoM) for this server the way I have configured. The pricing has been assembled from amazon/newegg in the US, amazon/ for the Euro and with for Switzerland. I have left out the cost of the HDD, as Your Mileage May Vary.

X10SDV Cost

I will create a 2nd post on the build notes and pictures, but here is a teaser.



Enabling vRealize Log Insight agent on vRealize Automation 7 appliance

While deploying a vRealize Automation (vRA) appliance at a customer yesterday, I wanted to setup the monitoring from vRealize Automation to the vRealize Log Insight (vRLI) solution with the new vRA 7 Content Pack. This Content Pack is available for download from the Marketplace, directly on each vRLI server.


When you install the vRA 7 Content Pack you can find the setup instruction in the tool tab. Here you will realize that you need to add two more Content Packs to be able to properly monitor a vRealize Automation installation.


Lets add the Apache – CLF and the vRealize Orchestrator Content Packs in the vRLI marketplace.

apache_clf_cp vro_cp




The vRealize Automation 7.0.1 Build 3622989 release now comes with a vRealize Log Insight Agent pre-installed. This agent is already running on the appliance when it is deployed, but it is not configured. You just need to connect using SSH to the vRA appliance and edit the /etc/liagent.ini configuration file.

edit the /etc/liagent.ini file

edit the /etc/liagent.ini file

The three fields to edit are vRLI hostname, protocol (cfapi) and the port. Once this is done, you just need to restart the Log Insight Agent using service liagentd restart.

service liagentd restart

service liagentd restart

At this point the Log Insight Agent starts talking to your vRealize Log Insight host or cluster Virtual IP address.

When checking the vRealize Log Insight Administration pane, in the Agents tab, I now see in my All Agents the vRA Appliance communicating.


The Log Insight Agent is now communicating, but it does not yet have a configuration on what to send back. Once an Agent pools the Log Insight server it will query what it needs to monitor. Here we will start to have fun and see the real power of vRealize Log Insight agent configuration.

We are going to use the appropriate vRA agent configuration template and make it an agent configuration that can be applied to our implementation.

Select the appropriate vRA agent group and Copy Template

Select the appropriate vRA agent group and Copy Template

From the Agent Drop-Down menu, scroll to the vRealize Automation 7 – Linux template and select on the right the Copy Template button. We will keep the configuration name as vRealize Automation 7 – Linux.


The next step is to select to which Log Insight Agents this configuration is applicable to. In the next screenshot I have selected to setup this Agent configuration using the IP Address of my vRA Appliance. I re-type the IP Address of the vRA Appliance in the filter, and use the Save New Group at the bottom.


Once save you can refresh the view and you will now see the configuration that is sent out to the qualified agent on their next regular pool of the vRLI host/cluster.

Here is another view of the vRealize Automation 7 – Windows group, and you see that I have applied this configuration only to the windows servers of a vRA Enterprise deployment.


You can apply multiple Log Insight Agent configurations to the same server. Another vRA example to monitor the IIS components of vRA IaaS elements


Example of monitoring Microsoft – Active Directory 2012 servers


You can see now how easy and fast it is to monitor servers with specific Log Insight Agent configurations.

Intel NUC Skull Canyon (NUC6I7KYK) and ESXi 6.0

As part of my ongoing expansion of the HomeDC, I was excited to learn about the availability of the latest Quad-Core Intel NUC a few months ago. Last friday I received my first Intel NUC Skylake NUC6I7KYK. I only started setting it up this afternoon. I usually do disabled a few settings in the BIOS, but following the warning from fellow bloggers that people had issues getting the Intel NUC running with ESXi [] I did take a deeper look prior to the install. I was able to install ESXi 6.0 Update 2 (Build 3620759) on my 4th try after disabling more settings in the BIOS.

Here is the screenshot of the ESXi Host Client of the Intel NUC6I7KYK with BIOS 0034.


Here is a quick screenshot of the physical machine. I was planning to use the SDXC slot with an SDXC 32GB card to store the boot configuration of ESXi, but unfortunately I did not see the SDXC as a valid target during the ESXi install process. So I keep the USB key I was boot from and select it as the target. On the screenshot below you will also notice an extra Network card, the StarTech USB3 Gigabit Ethernet Network Adapter which driver you can get from VirtuallyGhetto’s web page Functional USB 3.0 Ethernet Adapter (NIC) driver for ESXi 5.5 & 6.0. Thanks William for this driver.


The Bill-of-Materials (BOM) of my assembly…

Here below you can see the Intel NUC with the two Samsung SM951 NVMe disks and the Crucial memory.nuc6i7kyk_open

To get ESXi 6.0 Update 2 to install I disabled the following BIOS Settings.But as people have commented back after more test, you really only need to disable the Thunderbolt Controller to get ESXi to install.


  • disabled – USB Legacy (Default: On)
  • disabled – Portable Device Charging Mode (Default: Charging Only)
  • not change – USB Ports (Port 01-08 enabled)


  • disabled – Chipset SATA (Default AHCI & SMART Enabled)
  • M.2 Slot 1 NVMe SSD: Samsung MZVPV256HDGL-00000
  • M.2 Slot 2 NVMe SSD: Samsung MZVPV512HDGL-00000
  • disabled – HDD Activity LED (Default: On)
  • disabled – M.2 PCIe SSD LEG (Default: On)


  • IGD Minimum Memory – 64MB (Default)
  • IGD Aperture Size – 256MB (Default)
  • IGD Primary Video Port – Auto (Default)

BIOS\Devices\Onboard Devices

  • disabled – Audio (Default: On)
  • LAN (Default)
  • disabled – Thunderbolt Controller (Default: On)
  • disabled – WLAN (Default: On)
  • disabled – Bluetooth (Default: On)
  • Near Field Communication – Disabled (Default is Disabled)

BIOS\Devices\Onboard Devices\Legacy Device Configuration

  • disabled – Enhanced Consumer IR (Default: On)
  • disabled – High Precision Event Timers (Default: On)
  • disabled – Num Lock (Default: On)


  • M.2 Slot 1 – Enabled
  • M.2 Slot 2 – Enabled
  • M.2 Slot 1 NVMe SSD: Samsung MZVPV256HDGL-00000
  • M.2 Slot 2 NVMe SSD: Samsung MZVPV512HDGL-00000


  • CPU Fan Header
  • Fan Control Mode : Cool


  • disabled Real-Time Performance Tuning (Default: On)


  • Select Max Performance Enabled (Default: Balanced Enabled)

Secondary Power Settings

  • disabled – Intel Ready Mode Technology (Default: On)
  • disabled – Power Sense (Default: On)
  • After Power Failure: Power On (Default was stay off)

Sample view of the BIOS Onboard Devices as I deactivate some Legacy Device Configuration.



26/05 Update: Only the Thunderbolt Controller is stopping the ESXi 6.0 Update 2 installer to run properly. Re-activiting it after the install does not cause an issue in my limited testing.

Using virtual synology in a scale out distributed storage architecture

I’ve recently finished upgrading the Home Datacenter (#HomeDC) to vSphere 6.0 with four hosts running VSAN 6.0 with dual 10GbE networking for each host.


Even running a few large virtual machines on the VSAN Datastore like VDP 6.0 with a 4TB backed disk, I found myself with a lot of spare storage. I’ve invested in the SAS disks (Seagate Enterprise Capacity 4TB SAS 7200rpm) backing the VSAN datastore, so the budget is gone for replacing the aging Synology DS1010+.

I’ve recently studied various reviews on the Synology DS2015xs, but found the CPU a bit lacking to drive the dual 10GbE SFP+ links, and the Synology DS3615xs is a bit expensive. So why not leverage the 10GbE NICs in my management cluster for ultra fast connections, the fast CPUs on my hosts are a nice addition too. The biggest advantage is “cheap” 10GbE file server connections.

The rest of the blog is going in a grey zone… it’s #unsupported

Let me show you the goods first.

virtual Synology DS3615xs running on VSAN datastore

The concept is to create a storage appliance, that leverages the VSAN datastore and its accelerations of read/writes, and provides a flexible structure, where you could increase the storage on an as needed basis, or create a temporary storage while migrating from one Synology to a newer one. All this running on a vSphere host. A concept that a lot of other companies are doing with their Virtual Storage Appliances.

I’m going to use the XPEnology operating system, which is based on the Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM).

  • In my design and implementation that I will describe here, the virtual synology has a 8TB disk. The appliance is not doing any RAID functions on this disk, as its already protected on the VSAN datastore using a number of failures to tolerate of 1 policy (FTT=1).
  • Another way would be to create two or four virtual disks with a number of failures to tolerate of 0, and do a Software RAID in the appliance.
  • A third way could be to use four physical disks and two SSDs on a host, create RDM links, and present all these disks to the virtual Synology appliance and do Software RAID on the disks, and use the SSD for caching (SSDcache). This virtual storage appliance would not be able to move to another host using vMotion, but you could mitigate this restriction using Synology High-Availability.

To build the virtual synology you will need to retrieve the latest copy of the XPEnology DS3615xs files. You are looking for XPEnoboot_DS3615xs_5.1-5022.3.vmdk or a more recent version. Each version can have its own deployment process. The process I have described below is using the XPEnoboot_DS3615xs_5.1-5022.3.vmdk version.

There is also a huge forum with lots of contributions and interesting links at the XPEnology forums.

1) Creating the vSynology

Now I’m going to say upfront, that you will need to upload the XPEnoboot_DS3615xs_5.1-5022.3.vmdk twice in the virtual storage appliance. Once for the initial install, which will format all disks of the appliance (including the boot vmdk), then again to boot the appliance.

We start by creating a new Virtual Machine.

01 - Create new VM

We give it a name and place it in a Cluster.

02 - Name VM

And we store the virtual machine and its configuration files on an existing datastore. I have select my vsanDatastore.

04 - Select VSAN Datastore

We define the hardware compatibility of the virtual machine and select the Guess OS. We are going to use the Linux Other 3.x Linux (64-bit).

06 - Select Guess OS Linux 3.2I have selected two CPU and 8GB of memory. Because my appliance won’t do any software RAID, 2 vCPU is more than enough.

07 - Base Hardware

I have added a second VMXNET3 network interface, which I put on a dedicated 10GbE Distributed Port Group. So eth0 goes out using uplink1 and eth1 goes out using uplink2. You see these changes in the summary of the appliance below.

08 - ds3615xs Hardware Summary2) Changing the Boot disk

We can now go back into the appliance and edit it. We remove the boot disk, and erase it from the disk. (Yeah missing screenshot of this step).

We then use the datastore browser to upload for the first time the XPEnoboot_DS3615xs_5-1-5022.3.vmdk in the appliance folder.

09 - Upload XPE vmdk on vsanDatastore

And we add this existing virtual disk to the appliance

10a - Select the XPE vmdk

The new boot disk is attached as an IDE disk on port IDE(0:0)

10b - Add XPE vmdk as IDE0-0

In the following screenshot, I’m adding the main disk to the storage appliance. I’m creating a 8TB (or 8192GB) virtual disk, and select my VSAN Storage Base Polci “VSAN High Perf”.  The “VSAN High Perf” is defined as a Number of failures to tolerate of 1, and Number of disk stripes per object at 2.

11 - XPE non-persistent and 8TB

Now you can start the appliance. Look closely at the IP addresses of the appliance and the MAC addresses. You want to start configuring the IP Addresses later on the proper NIC.

12a Start VM and check eth0 eth1

Using the Synology Assistant you can now see your appliance appear on the network.12b - Use Synology Assistant to find new DS3615xs Use your browser and aim it to the IP address shown in the Synology Assistant to do the initial install.

12c - Open the Web Assistant

We are installing the DSM using the Manual install.

12d - Install DiskStation Manager

Here you upload the DSM 5.1-5022 pattern file that you retrieved from the Synology download center in the DS3615xs selection.

12e - Select Manual install and select DS3615xs 5022 pat

It will now prompt you that it will erase all partitions on the attached disks of the appliance. This includes the XPEnoboot disk of the appliance.

12f - Format disks with 5022.3 PAT

Accordingly the expected behavior now, is that the boot disk is wiped and won’t boot.

13 - Both disk formatted.

Stop the appliance, and using the Datastore browser, you go erase the XPenoboot disk. Upload again for the 2nd time the XPEnoboot_DS3615xs_5.1-5022-3.vmdk in the folder.

14 - Erase XPEnoboot vmdk and replace with original one

3) Configuration using Synology Assistant

You can now restart the appliance. You will notice that the 2nd time the appliance boots, some of the messages like the IP address are not there anymore. And using the Synology Assistant, you see that the DHCP function isn’t started. The IP addresses are now 169.254.x.y

Select the proper network interface in the Synology Assistant using the MAC address, and select Setup. If you don’t select the proper MAC address you might need to change swap IP addresses later. So save yourself some time, and select the eth0 one.

15 - Reboot DS3615xs and use Synology AssistantThe Synology assistant wizard will now start.

16 - Synology Assistant

The Admin password at this time is blank, don’t enter any value. You can change the password later.

17 - Synology Assitant - Blank passwordEnter the appliance Network settings.

18 - Synology Assitant - Final Network settings for eth0

Refreshing the Synology Assistant shows that you have the proper IP address now.

19 - Now ready for Web configuration

Time to connect to your newly deploy appliance.

20 - Configuration

You are now only a few steps away from using your storage appliance.

21 - Web Config

It is now time to change your admin account password.

22 - Server name

We can now update the DSM 5.1-5022 version to the latest 5.1-5022-5 version. Depending on the CPU of your host, you will never have seen a Synology reboot so fast.

23 Patch DSM

If you intend to use this virtual synology appliance to store data, I recommend you do some conditioning tests first, to see how it reacts in your environment.

I like the flexibility of the virtual synology appliance:

  • Adding a temporary repository for a data migration becomes easy if you have a lot of underlying VSAN datastore space.
  • Want to try out Synology High-Availability, add a 2nd appliance and create the High-Availability cluster.
  • Want to test a Synology with 10GbE interface, easy if your ESXi host has a 10G interface. (*)

In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to deploy on my VSAN datastore another storage appliances that can scale out in this distributed storage architecture.

(*) I have found out that while having the virtual synology appliance with 10GbE on the backbone is awesome, yet I ran into upload bandwidth limits trying to upload data. My sources where connected to the core switch over 1GbE links, or the virtual machines being used as a source for testing, has its disk store on 1GbE NFS/iSCSI LUNs. To test the virtual synolgoy I copied large files from various sources.I had three sources pushing out 100-120MB/s, 60-70MB/s and 80-90MB/s of large sequential files to get the 2nd screenshot at the top and see the virtual synology write stats at 220MB/s.

Homelab 2015 Upgrade

Since my last major entry about my Homelab in 2014, I have changed a few things. I added a 2nd cluster based on Apple MacMini (Late 2012), on which I run my OS X workloads, VMware Photon #CloudNativeApps machines, the DevOps Management tools and the vRealize Automation deployed blueprints. This cluster was initially purchased & conceived as a management cluster. The majority of my workload is composed of management, monitoring, analysis and infrastructure loads. It just made sense to swap the Compute and Management cluster around, and use the smaller one for Compute.


Compute Cluster

The original cluster composed of three SuperMicro X9SRH-7TF described in my Homelab 2014 article (more build pictures here) gave me some small issues.


Homelab in December 2014.

I’ve found that the Dual 10GbE X540 chipset on the motherboard does heat up a bit more than expected, and more than once (5x) I lost the integrated Dual 10GbE adapters on one of my hosts, requiring a host power off for ~20 minutes to cool down. In addition, a single 16G DDR3 DIMM was causing one host to freeze once every ~12 days. All the host have run extensive 48 hours memtest86+ checks, but nothing was spotted.  When a frozen VSAN host rejoins the cluster you see the re-synchronization of the data, and at that time, I’m glad to have a 10GbE network switch. In the end, I followed a best practice for VSAN clusters, I extendd the cluster to 4 hosts.

Beginning February I added a single Supermicro X10SRH-CLN4F server with a Intel Xeon E5-2630v3 (8 Cores @2.4Ghz and 64GB of DDR4 memory) to the cluster. This Supermicro X10SRH-CLN4F comes with 4 Intel Gigabit ports, an integrated LSI 3008 SAS 12Gb/s adapter. I also added an Intel X540-T2 dual 10GbE adapter to bring it in line with the first three nodes.


vSphere 6.0 on Supermicro X10SRH-CLN4F

Having a fourth host means scaling up the VSAN Cluster with an additional SSD and two 4TB SAS drives.

In the past month, the pricing of the Samsung 845DC Pro SSD have drop, to come in the $1/GB range. The Samsung 845DC Pro is rated at 10 DWPD (Disk-Writes-Per-Day) or 7300 TBW (TeraBytes-Written-in-5-years), and its performance is documented at 50’000 Sustained Write IOPS (4K) (Write IOPS Consistency at 95%) [Reference Samsung 845DC Pro PDF, and thessdreview article]. A fair warning for other poeple looking at the Samsung SSD 845DC Pro, it is not on the VMware VSAN Hardware Compatibility List.

Here is a screenshot of the disk group layout of the VSAN Cluster.


VSAN Disk Management

The resulting VSAN configuration is now 28TB usable space.


Here is a screenshot of the current Management Cluster.

Management Cluster

This cluster having grown, is now also generating additional heat. It’s been relocated in a colder room, and I had a Three Phase 240V 16A electricity line put in.

Management Cluster (April 2015)

Management Cluster (April 2015)

My external storage is still composed of two Synology arrays. An old DS1010+ and a more recent DS1813+ with a DX513 extension. At this point, 70% of my virtual machine datasets are located on the VSAN datastore.

Synology DS1813+ Storage Manager

Reviewing this article, I realize this cannot quantify as a homelab anymore… its a home datacenter… guess I need a new #HomeDC hashtag…

vSphere Replication Add-On registration and Folder issue.

While deploying recently the vSphere Replication solution on an infrastructure, I found myself confronted with a strange situation. I had deployed the vSphere Replication 6.0 appliance (Management and Replication), I was looking to add a 2nd vSphere Replication appliance to the primary site. Yet, once the Add-On vSphere Replication appliance was deployed, I was not able to select it via the vSphere Web Client to add it, only the error message “Selected object is not a virtual machine. Select a virtual machine to register as vSphere Replication Server.”

Unable to register vSphere Replication Add-On


After moving the new vSphere Replication appliance from my VM Folder back to the ‘Discovered virtual machine’ folder, was I able to use the Register vSphere Replication server function.

Register vR Add-On

Once the VM is registered with the vSphere Replication server, moving it to my custom VM Folder ( is not an issue anymore.



NFS volume mounting error following a network change

I recently redesigned my network configuration from a single /24 address range to multiple /24 ranges with routing done on my core switch. Part of this change meant shutdown the vSphere cluster, and the storage arrays (Synology) and reassigning new IP addresses and gateways to all of these entities.

When my hosts and my storage arrays had their new IP addresses and I attempted to re-map my NFS volumes to the Synology, I got a strange error message while attempting to mount my NFS volumes. “There are incorrect or missing values below.

Unable to mount NFS point in vSphere Web Client

Another error message “Unable to add new NAS, volume with the label X already exists” was given on the ESXi shell when I attempted the same operations using a SSH session directly on my host.

Unable to add new NAS volume with the label already exists

Yet the esxcfg-nas -l command did not return any values.

Well it seems that the old NAS entry is still in the ESXi host, but not listed. To fix this small issue, you need to delete the non-existing NFS mount point and recreate it.

In the next screenshot you see me listing my mount points, attempting to mount a new NFS volume (legolas_nfs), erasing the non-visible entry, and at last adding the new NFS volume.


I hope this can save someone some precious time.

Notes & Photos of the Homelab 2014 build

I’ve had a few questions about my Homelab 2014 upgrade hardware and settings. So here is a follow-up. This is just a photo collection of the various stages of the build.  Compared to my previous homelabs that where designed for a small footprint, this one isn’t, this homelab version has been build to be a quiet environment.

I started my build with only two hosts. For the cases I used the very nice Fractal Design Define R4. These are ATX chassis in a sleek black color, can house 8x 3.5″ disks, and support a lot of extra fans. Some of those you can see on the right site, those are Noctua NF-A14 FLX. For the power supply I picked up some Enermax Revolution Xt PSU.


For the CPU I went with the Intel Xeon E5-1650v2 (6 Cores @3.5GHZ) and a large Noctua NH-U12DX i4. The special thing about the NH-U12DX i4 model is that it comes with socket brackets for the Narrow-Brack ILM that you find on the Supermicro X9SRH-7TF motherboard.


The two Supermicro X9SRH-7TF motherboards and two add-on Intel I350-T2 dual 1Gbps network cards.


Getting everything read for the build stage.

On the next photo you will see quiet a large assortment of pieces. There are 5 small yet long lasting Intel SSD S3700 100GB, 8x Seagate Constellation 3TB disks, some LSI HBA Adapters like the LSI 9207-8i and LSI 9300-8i, two Mellanox ConnectX-3 VPI Dual 40/56Gbps InfiniBand and Ethernet adapters that I got for a steal (~$320USD) on ebay last summer.


You need to remember, that if you only have two hosts, with 10Gbps Ethernet or 40Gbps Ethernet, you can build a point-to-point config, without having to purchase a network switch. These ConnectX-3 VPI adapters are recognized as 40Gbps Ethernet NIC by vSphere 5.5.

Lets have a closer look at the Fractal Design Define R4 chassis.

Fractal Design Define R4 Front

Fractal Design Define R4 Front

The Fractal Design Define R4 has two 14cm Fans, one in the front, and one in the back. I’m replacing the back one with the Noctua NF-A14 FLX, and I put one in the top of the chassis to extra the little warm air out the top.

The inside of the chassis has a nice feel, easy access to the various elements, space for 8x 3.5″ disk in the front, and you can push power-cables on the other side of the chassis.

Fractal Design Define R4 Inside

Fractal Design Define R4 Inside

A few years ago, I bought a very nice yet expensive Tyan dual processor motherboard and I installed it with all the elements before looking to put the CPU on the motherboard. It had bent pins under the CPU cover. This is something that motherboard manufacturers and distributors have no warranty. That was an expensive lesson, and that was the end of my Tyan allegiance. Since then I moved to Supermicro.

LGA2011 socket close-up. Always check the PINs. for damage

LGA2011 socket close-up. Always check the PINs. for damage

Here is the close up of the Supermicro X9SRH-7TF

Supermicro X9SRH-7TF

Supermicro X9SRH-7TF

I now always put the CPU on the motherboard, before the motherboard goes in the chassis. Note on the next picture the Narrow ILM socket for the cooling.

Intel Xeon E5-1650v2 and Narrow ILM

Intel Xeon E5-1650v2 and Narrow ILM

Here is the difference between the Fractal Design Silent Series R2 fan and the Noctua NF-A14 FLX.

Fractal Design Silent Series R2 & Noctua NF-A14 FLX

Fractal Design Silent Series R2 & Noctua NF-A14 FLX

What I like in the Noctua NF-A14 FLX are the rubber hold-fasts that replace the screws holding the fan. That is one more option where items in a chassis don’t vibrate and make noise. Also the Noctua NF-A14 FLX runs by default at 1200RPM, but you have two electric Low-Noise Adapters (LNA) that can bring the default speed down to 1000RPM and 800RPM. Less rotations equals less noise.

Noctua NF-A14 FLX Details

Noctua NF-A14 FLX Details

Putting the motherboard in the Chassis.


Now we need to modify the holding brackets for the CPU Cooler. The Noctua NH-U12DX i4 comes with Narrow ILM that can replace the ones on it. In the picture below, the top one is the Narrow ILM holder, while the bottom one still needs to be replaced.


And a close up of everything installed in the Chassis.


To hold the SSD in the chassis, I’m using an Icy Dock MB996SP-6SB to hold multiple SSD in a single 5.25″ frontal slot. As SSD don’t heat up like 2.5″ HDD, you can select to cut the electricity to the FAN.


This Icy Dock MB996SP-6SB gives a nice front look to the chassis.


How does it look inside… okay, honest I have tied up the sata cables since my building process.



Here is the picture of my 2nd vSphere host during building. See the cabling is done better here.



The two Mellanox ConnectX-3 VPI 40/56Gbps cards I have where half-height adapters. So I just to adapt a little bit the holders so that the 40Gbps NIC where firmly secured in the chassis.


Here is the Homelab 2014 after the first build.



At the end of August 2014, I got a new Core network switch to expand the Homelab. The Cisco SG500XG-8F8T, which is a 16x Port 10Gb Ethernet. Eight ports are in RJ45 format, and eight are in SFP+ format, and one for Management.

Cisco SG500XG-8G8T

Cisco SG500XG-8G8T

I build a third vSphere host using the same config as the first ones. And here is the current 2014 Homelab.

Homelab 2014

Homelab 2014

And if you want to see what the noise is at home, check this Youtube movie out. I used the dBUltraPro app on the iPad to measure the noise level.

And this page would not be complete if it didn’t have a vCenter cluster screenshot.

Homelab 2014 Cluster