Thursday, August 15, 2013

Finally! ESXi Finale

Last time we wrapped up the virtual machine requirements that are needed to optimally run Library.  What we have not discussed so far as how does it perform?  What has my experience been like?  What advice do I have for others who wish to delve into this?

What has my experience been like?  It’s been better than I had hoped for.  Not only have I been able to remove the virtual machines from my wife’s desktop and place them on their own dedicated server; something I have been meaning to do for quite awhile now; management of the bots is much easier.  With VMware, whenever I need to make a change to one of the bots, I need to physically go to the machine and peer inside each window and make the changes.  With the VSphere tool, I can remotely do those functions.  This has the benefit of being able to run my bots in a “headless” fashion.  By headless, I mean without a monitor.  I could also run it without a keyboard theoretically.

What advice would I give to others?  First off, get a license key.  There are various free and paid versions of VMware products.  For some reason the key I had would not work with this version of ESXi. 

Tip: Get a 64-bit version of ESXi.  I am running the 32 bit version and there is a maximum of 3.5 Gigabytes which can be allocated.  This is enough to run two (2) bots.  The hardware I received can not be expanded so this is not a problem for me.  But for those who have twenty bot amalgamations and can build a 24 Gigabyte machine to house their bots, 32 bit will not be sufficient.

Tip: Make certain your hardware is compatible with ESXi.  The first time we attempted this project, ESXi did not like the network card we were using and the only network card which was compatible with ESXi and the motherboard we were using cost over $150 US.  Since money was tight at the time, this was an expense I was not willing to incur, especially on donated and unknown hardware. 

Conclusion: This has been a worthwhile project for us.  We’ve learned a lot and this will help us professionally.  While ESXi is not exceedingly difficult to install or use, it can be daunting for those who are uncomfortable with installing and configuring operating systems or get squeamish whenever things do not go as planned.

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