I'm intrigued by Andrew Pollack's recent blog about the ultimate VMWARE ESXi server that he built for development and testing. It would certainly be valuable for me to be able to run test domino servers each in their own VM. Andrew has done a great job of documenting his setup from a hardware perspective and it's well worth a read. Before I venture into this myself, I have a few questions for any Domino/VMWARE experts out there...

First, where is the best place to map the Domino DATA data directory?  While I could put the Domino DATA directory inside of one big VM, it would seem to me that it might be better to keep the VM as small as possible (e.g. 8 GB - just big enough for OS, swap files, Domino Server and apps) and then map the DATA directory to another drive or a NAS. Can I delegate a physical drive on the EXSI server to a specific VM? (It appears that VMWARE supports something called Raw Device Mapping RDM for this). Should I use an external NAS?

For those of us that need to run a Lotus Notes or Domino instance inside a VM on our desktop with VMWARE Workstation, I have the same question - is it better to keep data inside or outside the VM?

Second, I'm looking for recommendations to build an EXSi box like Andrew but with RAID. ? I'm looking for a budget solution, e.g. a RAID controller and 4 terabyte SATA drives or something like that. This is for my own test and production environment for < 5 users so while it needs to be reliable it does not have to have the robustness required to support an organization.

I appreciate any comments, suggestions, links, etc.. I'm really looking for input from people that have already done what I'm describing.

In my research, I have found the following links that may be of help:

VMWARE Community Best Practices for IBM Lotus Domino
Domino Performnace Setting
VMWARE Raw Device Mapping

Discussion/Comments (9):

Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

I prefer to keep everything inside the Vm. Then it's easy to back up or even move everything to a different computer.

Posted at 08/29/2009 15:59:52 by David leedy

re: Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

Thanks, David. Too funny. I was just watching one of your Notes in 9 Videos on YouTube. Well done!

Posted at 08/29/2009 16:03:54 by Eric Mack

Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

I'm with David. Unless this is a production environment with 100s-1000s of users, using the VM Disks is totally fine, I wouldn't bother pointing to physical drives, as you then limit how many VMs you are going to have as only one can access that drive at a time. Remember you can have a separate OS and data drive within the VM.

Here are my slides from Lotusphere, they are really for VMware workstation but many of the performance tips relate to ESXi too.

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I also made a really cheap VMWare ESXi server from a very cheap Dell Refurb a while back. I now have 3 of these machines running, with 4-5 servers on each.

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Posted at 08/29/2009 17:17:48 by Carl Tyler

Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

I generally build a VM with a minimum size C drive. Then I add a reasonable sized virtual drive as D. I make it 10 to 50 GB, depending on what sort of testing I intend to do with the VM. I install Domino with the data directory on D.

Posted at 08/29/2009 21:22:23 by Richard Schwartz

Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

Aside from plenty of memory I would suggest a good caching controller if you are going to run more than a couple of VM's. I have a 3Ware caching controller with 2 arrays. When I am running 3+ VM's I try and distribute the load over the 2 arrays to improve performance. I do not use this setup for performance testing since the VM's do not match real world hardware, but I can test configurations and features while minimizing any performance lag by using VMWare.

Posted at 08/30/2009 5:42:54 by Jim Casale

Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

For all ESX/ESXi servers, if you can, go with RAID 10. RAID 5 kills write performance. As mentioned by Andrew, make sure to check the HCL (hardware compatibility list).

You'll be fine as long as the RAID controller has cache.

We run EVERYTHING on VMware (some 40 servers on 2 ESX hosts). For your number of users just install the OS on a 12GB partition then add D: for Domino and an E: if you need transaction logging (5GB is sufficient for E).

Unless you are looking to 100's of users you won't need RAW disk.

Lastly, make sure you have enough CPU horsepower and RAM. A single or dual quad core and 8+GB RAM.

ESXi 4 is now native 64bit and can only be installed on 64bit CPUs. If you only have 32bit CPUs move back down to ESXi 3.5.


Posted at 08/30/2009 10:47:33 by Darren Duke

Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

Bill Buchan made the following comment on his now-buggered site:

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Get yourself a Dell T105 server - cheap as chips - and sling in a Paradise SATA card. VMWare ESX 3i runs quite happily on that. And there's space in there for four (or more) hard drives.

No rack required.

---* Bill

Posted at 08/30/2009 17:15:00 by Lars Berntrop-Bos

Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine

RDM isn't recommended for Domino data. See for example these two technotes:

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Posted at 09/04/2009 10:41:50 by Oliver Regelmann

Discussion for this entry is now closed.