Long story short, my hardware (R610 / X3650m2 / Mellanox2 cards) isn’t fully supported by ESXi 7. I would have to spend money upgrading parts to make it compatible, or outright buy whole new servers and hope it is supported for more than a couple years. Neither very appealing. As a VMUG adv member with a year left, this sucks.
So took one of my servers and flipped it to XCP-NG. I really do love the one click it takes to get XOA up and running (I’m aware of the build from source method, but just wanted to get up and running).
- I really love that when adding NFS storage it just populates the available choices. Pretty neat.
- Very simple resource graphics without having to dig too deep.
- Overall a simpler UI (almost to a fault).
- A lot of similar features to vmware, just implemented differently. One being distributed switches…
- XOA itself takes considerably less resources than vcenter. I mean, way way way less.
- Updating the host that XOA resides on doesn’t cause XOA to lose its mind. The host just updates, reboots, and XOA comes back online. Magic!
Adjustments (not a negative):
- The settings for a guest vm are pretty much in a single place for vmware. XOA spreads it out over tabs… So you find yourself adjusting to where things are quite a bit.
- I haven’t found a way yet - but organizing VMs into folders / groups is not apparent. You can add labels/tags and filter however. I do miss the “tree” design in vcenter.
- Patching was weird - XOA gave me a notification I needed to update and it took me to the pool overview which requires the feature (build from source or licensed). I didn’t realize I could just drop down to the host and patch that way. I kept going in circles not understanding why I couldn’t just patch. Patching the XOA appliance however was dead nuts simple.
- Cannot use a flash drive - however you can still use the free space from the installation destination. Mixed feelings about this but overall fine. (I think ESXi 6.5 or 6.7. just started letting you do this too)
- No Web GUI for the host - not the end of the world unless XOA craps the bed (very real thing with vcenter).
Cons (honestly just annoyances):
- No file manager within XOA. Main box is windows, so had to add the feature and mount the NFS share.
- No support for importing OVF :-(.
- No way to import an OVA that’s already on the storage from the WebGUI (maybe from CLI?)
- No apparent way to import a VMDK that’s already on the storage from the WebGUI (maybe from CLI?)
- New ISOs require you to rescan storage.
- No errors / feedback for NFS permission issues - sort of a lucky guess after trying to import an OVA.
- The change to xvda from sda broke a couple of my CentOS v8 VMs. All the more confusing, they use LVM and reference labels, not device. Haven’t figured this out yet… Meanwhile Windows just trucked on.
- Console kind of sucks (annoyance since rarely needed).
- Not very well documented / KB articles - just a lot of dumb luck figuring some things out. Which is a testament to their WebGUI honestly.
- XOA’s version of a distributed switch locks you into the specific ports (eth1 across every host must be the same). Which is an annoyance, but in an enterprise environment this is more likely to be this way anyway (matching hosts + patched the same).
I’ve only used it for a couple days now, but so far it looks like I’ll keep using it. Like any new environment, just a matter of using it + google. I find it easier to use than nutanix + acropolis - I only had that running for about 2 hours last year before I ditched it. The installation requirements alone drove me insane to get around.