Humble beginnings

This post will be the first in a series of articles and how to guides that will chronicle my virtual datacenter setup. This first post will walk you through the platform I will utilize and discuss a bit about how it is designed and setup.

The hardware

Requirements

There were several requirements for the hardware that was important to fulfill. First of all it had to be both compact, quiet and not to obtrusive. This was due to the restrictive location of the server, which is in my home-office. The second requirement was that the server should have a shelf-life of at least 5 years and utilize as much of my existing hardware as possible. Mainly to save money and make use of hardware wasting away on my shelfs. Thirdly the server will be utilized as a virtualization host, which does require some “umphf” when it comes to hardware. Since the server would be hosting a virtual environment for many years to come.

Components

MotherboardAsrock Rack EP2C602 SSI
ChassiEnthoo Pro White SSI EEB fulltower
Processor2x Intel E5-2690v2 10 core 2,9GHz
Memory8x 16GB ECC DDR3 1866MHz
OS Drive2x Kingston 120GB SSD
HDD4x 4TB Western Digital Green
SSD1x 1TB Corsair Force MP510
SSD2x 1TB Western Digital Blue
Power supplyCorsair HX1000 V2 1000W
Graphics CardASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB
hardware list

Reasoning

There is a very large market of cheap second-hand processors online and mostly they are of good quality. They are also plentiful and one can buy a high-end processor for a tenth of the original pricing. This does require some rather expensive hardware around it but memory for older servers is also easy to find and cheap to buy. There were two things that are a bit outside of the box, first the Graphics card. The reason behind buying this was that my aim is to have a virtual Desktop with PCI-E passthrough so that I can utilize it for gaming. The second thing is the motherboard which I actually bought new instead of second-hand.

Software

The next step is to find a good candidate to host the virtual machines on the hardware. My choice fell on Proxmox mostly due to the simple interface, easy installation and feature-rich web GUI.

There are several other choices like VMware and HyperV which are aimed at a server rather then for instance Virtualbox and VMware Workstation who are aimed at desktops. In the end Proxmox became quite obvious as a choice since it is both flexible since I can actually utilize a terminal and work directly on a well-known Operating system (Debian 10). Furthermore it has a very good UI that is capable of configuring both the host operating system and the virtual machines.

In the next article I will go more into depth on the configuration of the proxmox and the logical diagram of the virtual networks and servers within.

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