ESXI and True NAS Build Using a Dell C6320

Hey everyone!

I’m new here so not sure how this all works but will appreciate any advice given.

I am a new MSP, roughly 6 months old. Been working with MSP’s for quite some time and decided to venture out and start my own. This will be my first time setting up a virtual environment of this size.

I have a Dell C6320 4 blade with 2 E5-2680v4, 128GB RAM in each node. I also have a R520 that I plan on throwing TrueNAS on. The truenas will have 4 12TB HDD’s in it.

I regret purchasing this C6320 but it’s too late for that now. I bought it early on when I started the company because I thought it was an incredible deal but I have ended up dumping sooo much money into it, that there’s no turning back now.

My goal is to throw this into a DC and have it host customers websites, Quickbooks VM’s, relay server, Unifi Controller and hopefully 1 Terminal server for one of my clients (their data is roughly around 500GB). There will obviously be more services down the line that I would like to use this for but these are the main concerns as of now.

For the C6320, each node has 6 bays. I have 6 2TB enterprise SSD’s and 18 1TB ent HDD’s (all I can afford at the moment). My first issue is deciding what drives to put where and what raid to run them in. I plan on running the R520 in dual Raidz1 (feel free to tell me I’m an idiot) for the data store.

Each Blade has 2x 10GB SFP+ PORTS and 2x 10GbE RJ45 ports through a mez card. There is also a perc H730 on each blade.

My overall question is how would you guys set this up if you had the same hardware. If you need more details, please let me know. TIA

EDIT: Forgot to mention that I have an sd card slot on each blade that I intend on running esxi off of.

The RAID question is an age old question that really never gets answered. Everyone has their own tolerance towards what kind of redundancy should be had over performance so I think you will run into all kinds of suggestions, but I will go ahead and give mine :slight_smile: .

VM Thoughts

I assume since you have large storage on your ESXi hosts that your VM’s are all local storage? Not sure I would go that route, instead I would have an iscsi target for the backend storage for easier VM migrations between ESXi hosts. So if you need to do patching you aren’t waiting for long VM migrations.

Storage Thoughts

I am all about performance so setting things up in a RAID 10 (Striped Mirrors) is my preferred suggestion on the VM storage front, as long as you have proper backups of your data on a separate storage node. I assume TrueNAS? If that is the case the I would have more redundancy on the TrueNAS box with a RAIDz2. You lose out on some performance, but at that level, data integrity is more important there.

What I would do

With all that said if I were in your shoes I would have my TureNAS as my iscsi target for the backend storage setup in raid 10 and then have another TureNAS box as a backup target. From the primary truenas box you can setup regular snapshots which in case you or a customer accidently delete something they weren’t supposed to, you can do a restore of a snapshot or retrieve the delete item from the snapshot.

Now, your data retention policy is up to you on how often you want snapshots to be taken, how long to keep the snapshots and how often you want all your data replicated to your back TrueNAS. There are a lot of factors you need to consider when deciding.


Based on your current gear, I would set up three of your nodes with 2 SSDs and configure them as RAID1. When you build your VMs you should use that datastore for the virtual disk (VD) running the OS or DBs. I would then use the 18 HDDs in RAID10 for your TrueNAS box and configure iSCSI back to your four hosts/nodes. You could then use that datastore for cold storage for your VMs and backups/snapshots of the other virtual disks.

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Thanks for the response! You mentioned putting the other 18 hdds on raid 10 but each node/blade has 6 slots. Are you saying to run the ssds on slot 1/2 and then put the hdds in 3-6 and create a data store for each? The r520 that i plan on using is only a 4 slot but have the 4 12tb drives to run that. I almost feel like buying these 18 1tb drives were just a waste of money. Kicking myself in the butt. I suppose I could buy a cheap high storage slot server to make use of it…

@FredFerrell is saying your truenas box would be the backend storage for your ESXi hosts. So the 18 HDD’s will go in the truenas box. Each ESXi node will have 2 ssd’s in raid 1 for the ESXi OS.

The R520 doesn’t have that many slots, but you can by a drive shelf and an external raid controller that supports JBOD. That way you can use your R520 as a head unit for all your drives and have more expansion for a little future proofing.

Something like this

I assumed your R520 could handle all the drives since you mentioned TrueNAS. I probably wouldn’t bother deploying TrueNAS unless it was across a rather large array and I didn’t realize you had additional much larger drives.

Here is what I would do…
Nodes 1-3 will have two RAID arrays, a RAID1 comprised of two SSD drives and a RAID10 comprised of 4 HDDs.
Node 4 will have one RAID10 array of 6 HDDs.
Build out your R520 drives in a RAID10 and setup iSCSI for the 4 nodes/hosts.

When you deploy your VMs, use the datastore running across the RAID1 array for you OS and DB virtual disks and any cold data should be running on virtual disks on your RAID10 arrays.

I would use your TrueNAS for backups only at this point. Let me know if that makes sense.

Makes perfect sense. This was my original goal but after reading for weeks, wasnt sure that it would work. Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.

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