Hardware for _TINY_ ESXI deployment

sko

New Member
Jun 11, 2021
4
1
3
We need a small (and inexpensive) hardware platform for a very tiny ESXi deployment for 2 small appliances:
One is essentially only a VPN gateway for a mobile/cloud application for our phone system, the other is a phonebook integration, reading phonebook data from our customer database twice per day and making it available to the phone system. Both run a stripped-down linux-based OS underneath, RAM Requirements are listed as 2GB and 4GB (recommended).
So there's absolutely no heavy lifting or huge amounts of data involved at any time.
Both applications are also not considered business-critical, so no redundancy (PSU, storage) is required. Both appliances have a single, static config file which is backed up when something changes, so absolutely no backup is required on that system. Everything about this is just small, simple, "setup-and-forget"...

We run everything else on smartOS and FreeBSD, but both appliances are only available and supported on VMware, so this will be a single, isolated application that isn't going to expand or needs to integrate into another ecosystem.


I was thinking about some small, embedded IoT server (e.g. Supermicro E100/200/300 series) or even a small Core i3/i5 NUC, but the "VMware Compatibility Guide" database [1] seems to be extremely outdated, so it isn't a big help (i.e. the "latest" listed intel Core cpu is from the 5th generation, Xeons seem to lack behind several years too...).

How about Atom E3900 platforms like Supermicro SYS-E200-9AP? NUCs also look tempting, although I'm not a friend of dragging all the desktop-related cruft (wlan, bluetooth, audio, hdmi...) around when it's not needed. I also don't know if/how long they would survive in 24/7 operation, so "server hardware" would be preferred unless there's a good point to use a standard NUC (i.e. I'd get 2 suitable NUCs for the same price as an equivalent server)
Any used (not too old though) systems I should have a look at?

Thanks for any help and suggestions!


[1] https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php
 

Dev_Mgr

Active Member
Sep 20, 2014
114
37
28
Texas
Are you looking for something with a 'real' warranty and official support, or something that will work (and support/warranty isn't too critical)?

And you mentioned the NUC; are you looking for something physically small, or would a 1U solution or small desktop be acceptable?
 

sko

New Member
Jun 11, 2021
4
1
3
Official support through vmware isn't critical as we will be using the vSphere free tier anyways (which is acceptable/supported by mitel and our phone system provider). So if it "only works" we are fine.
I already found some E3940 based systems which list VMware support (e.g. IO Corp L3940W [1]), and with the CPU supporting all relevant extensions (VT-x, VT-d, EPT) I wouldn't see why ESXi shouldn't work with those systems...

A 1U solution would be nice, but it seems it will come at a hefty price tag and we still have enough space left on a shelf in the rack where some other non-rackmountable stuff is already piling up (i.e. a USB-server for HASP keys, fiber terminators/routers from ISPs, mikrotik vpn router etc). So something as small as a NUC will totally be fine, as well as e.g. the Supermicro SYS-E200-9AP.



[1] IO Corp - Pro|Edge L3940W Thin Client
 

sko

New Member
Jun 11, 2021
4
1
3
FTR: We went for the SYS-E200-9AP and ESXi 6.7U3 runs without extra drivers or any waving of a sacrificial rubber chicken...
 
  • Haha
Reactions: BoredSysadmin