Home lab update – 2018

Past couple of months I have been working on to update and upgrade my home lab.

My LAB now includes:

3 node VSAN cluster with HPE DL360 G7 SFF, HPE DL380 G7 SFF and HPE DL380 G7 LFF.
A standalone ESXi running on HPE DL380 G7 for running vCenter 6.7 U1 and other supporting services.
A standalone Windows Server HPE DL380 Gen8 to run VMs in WMware Workstation and file server service.

Currently network is 1G. Planning to upgrade to 10G in the future.

Some things I discovered during building the lab.
HPE DL380 G7 LFF with HP P410i also accepts 8TB disks. HPE quick specs only include disks as large as 4TB.
HPE DL380 Gen8 also works with DDR3 16GB 1067Mhz Quad Rank RDIMM memory modules. I was able to install 128GB per CPU. The operating frequency was reduced to 800Mhz.

Extended my home lab

I’ve recently extended my home lab with additional capacity. In addition to my Windows Server + VMware Workstation (info here) I’ve added refurbished HPE DL380 G7 server with following configuration:

1 x Intel Xeon Processor X5650 2.66Ghz
96GB RAM
1TB HDD
will add SSD in the future

The added server is running VMWare ESXi 6.7. It hosts vCenter 6.7 appliance and also few virtual ESXi 6.7 instances. HPE G7 series servers are not officially supported by VMWare to run ESXi 6.7 but it seems to be working for now.

I found my refurbished HPE G7 server from Ebay.

Modify VMware Update Manager host reboot timeouts in vSphere vCenter 6.5 appliance

I recently changed from Windows based VMware Update Manager (VUM) to Update Manager which is embedded in to the appliance of vCenter. In old VUM I had increased host reboot timeouts to allow host firmware patching during reboot without timing out remediation job.  In appliance the vci-integrity.xml file located in “/usr/lib/vmware-updatemgr/bin”. You need to restart VUM service or appliance after the change.

Lines which need to be change are following:

<HostRebootWaitMaxSeconds>1800</HostRebootWaitMaxSeconds>
<HostRebootWaitMinSeconds>600</HostRebootWaitMinSeconds>

Changed the values to:

<HostRebootWaitMaxSeconds>5400</HostRebootWaitMaxSeconds>
<HostRebootWaitMinSeconds>1800</HostRebootWaitMinSeconds>

This change allows me to patch ESXi host and install new firmware’s with a same reboot and with as least operations as possible.

Illegal OpCode while booting a HPE Proliant server

I was installing a new ESXi and after some steps I got an error “Illegal OpCode” while booting. It happened after ESXi patching with VUM. After some debugging I found the issue.

The server had local storage where I created a VMFS datastore before patching. In BIOS boot order was CD/DVD ROM, Hard Disk and USB. ESXi was installed onto USB. The error happened when server tried to boot from disk which contained VMFS datastore. After I moved USB before Hard Disk in boot order server booted correctly.

 

Firmware update fails on HPE server when Serial Number and Product ID is missing

Recently I was having issues updating HPE ProLiant BL460c G7 with latest SPP (2016.10). Firmware update just stopped on Step 1. Also HPE custom ESXi ISO failed to work.

After some digging around I discovered that server Serial Number and Product ID were missing. I went to BIOS and filled in the correct Serial Number and Product ID and after that the firmware update worked and I was also able to install HPE custom ESXi.

I suspect that the Serial Number and Product ID were lost when this blade server was removed from one Virtual Connect infrastructure and placed to another.

128GB DDR4-2400 Memory Kit available for HPE servers

HPE has made available 128GB (1x128GB) Octal Rank x4 DDR4-2400 CAS-20-18-18 Load Reduced Memory Kit (HPE info page). The price as of writing this (13.07.2016) is quite high – 9499 USD.

The 128GB RAM module open up possibilities to build single socket systems with up to 1,5TB of RAM.

Example HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 config:

  • 1 x Intel Xeon E5-2699v4 (2.2GHz/22-core/55MB/145W)
  • 12 x HPE 128GB (1x128GB) Octal Rank x4 DDR4-2400 CAS-20-18-18 Load Reduced Memory Kit

Reducing the number of sockets could lower the amount of software licenses needed – eg VMWare.

Corrupted server profile in HP blade server after firmware upgrade

Recently we ere applying a SPP 2016.04 for some our blade servers. After upgrade one the server did not have network. From ESXi console everything looked OK. Tried cold boot – nothing. Tried downgrade of Emulex CNA firmware – nothing. Tried latest Emulex firmware again – nothing. Finally turned off server, went to VCEM (Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager) and edited the faulty profile by just clicking edit and then saved the profile again. Powered up the server and now everything was OK. I guess firmware update somehow damaged the profile and by re-applying the profile using VCEM it got fixed.