Single Powerful Server for Files and VMs or 2 Servers?

I am looking at upgrading my homelab. I can’t decide if I should purchase or build a single powerful system or separate my file storage and VMs?

I was thinking the following just not sure which:

2 servers - one runs FreeNAS and the second runs XCP-NG

1 server - has a physical RAID card and runs XCP-NG

Also I assume power consumption would be more using 2 servers instead of a single more powerful server… to a point I guess.

I know what’s going to be said, so I might as well get it over with. It depends on what you are trying to do.

In my system, I bought 3 servers for XCP-NG and eventually 1 more for Freenas. It is at work where I was testing it to replace all of my individual windows servers with VM’s and have failover. But the servers I bought are only really good for about 5 total windows servers because they are OLD.

So a lot of it needs to be based on your learning objectives. If you don’t want to emulate a large network or test failure modes, then a single server for the VM is fine. I’d still try to put up a freenas server, you can use them for a lot of things besides storing the VM’s.

Sorry for the lack of concrete answer.

I just moved from a monolithic setup to a split setup.

Right now, I have a FreeNAS server acting as both a NAS and a SAN, and a separate ESXi box that connects to the SAN over iSCSI. I plan to add another ESXi server at a later date so that I can learn and explore failover, vmotion, etc. Might even build another small FreeNAS so that I can explore HA and failover on the SAN side, as well.

Again, it depends on your learning objectives. More servers = more power, more expense, more “wife annoyance.” So make sure you can define your learning objectives well so that you’re not going to the expense and annoyance without good reason.

I have a tendency to prefer to have my data / files separate from my VMs … though I use cheap Lenovo boxes … I can move components around as I like. I’ve found that RAM is the biggest outlay, prices just aren’t falling, so having everything on one box might allow you to optimise your RAM.

I’ve noticed the same about RAM, you can by complete servers with large amounts of RAM cheaper than just buying the RAM. Or so it goes with DDR2 and DDR3. But you’ll often pay a large amount in shipping.