Nuc Nuc Nuc - vSAN !

In a previous article VMworld 2016 Barcelona Hackathon, I noted that I had won an i3 NUC at VMworld in Barcelona. After playing with that for a few days and helping Alan Renouf test his Home Lab Deployment Script, I decided I wanted to have a full 3 node cluster - but with the i5 Processor … so, I went shopping!

NUC Lab Parts


Intel NUC i5 Model:

Intel NUC i5: NUC6i5SYH


Crucial 32GB Kit (16GBx2) DDR 2133

Caching Tier Storage:

Toshiba OCZ RD400 Series Solid State Drive PCIe NVMe M.2 256GB with MLC Flash

Capacity Tier Storage:

Crucial MX300 1TB SATA 2.5 Inch Internal Solid State Drive - CT1050MX300SSD1

2nd NIC:

StarTech USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet NIC Network Adapter

Boot USB Stick:

SanDisk Ultra Fit 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive SDCZ43-016G-G46

NUC Cluster Switch:

Cisco SG300-10 10-port Gigabit Managed Switch

Not shown above

Patch Cables:

CAT6 Patch Cable - 10-PACK - 1.5 FT. Ethernet CAT6 (By Ultra Clarity) Category 6 Network Wire UTP CAT 6 (0.5 meters) Premium Snagless Patch Cord 18" Short Ethernet Cable

Wireless Bridge (had this router in a box, no longer being used):

NETGEAR Wireless Router - AC1750 Dual Band Gigabit (R6300)


Assembled NUC i5
Fortunately, installation of the NVMe, SSD, and memory is an easy process. All you need is a fine tip Phillip’s head screwdriver

Installed - Front

NUC Cluster Front View
With 3 i5 NUCs in a cluster, I just couldn’t help myself… I just had to name them Larry, Moe, and Curly. As for the fourth NUC, the i3 that I got at VMworld, I stuck WIndows 10 Pro on there and named it Shemp ;) Boot time on these things is way fast! considerably faster than my previous servers! Oh, and just for kicks, I let my son use the i3 for an evening so he could let me know how it performed when playing League of Legends over our 802.11 ac wifi… His response was that there was not any noticable difference compared to his gaming laptop :)

You may be wondering what’s the point of that Netgear…. Well, a bulk of my lab (the older hardware from previous post) is in my basement and these NUCs are in my 2nd floor office. The Netgear serves as a wireless bridge so that the NUC cluster is accessible to the vCSA running on one of the servers in the basement.

Installed - Back

NUC Cluster back view
Fortunately, the back-side of the cluster is facing a wall so this little rat’s nest isn’t easily visible when entering my office.

Cisco Switch

Cisco SG300 NUC Ports
  • Ports 1-4 are on the default VLAN for Larry, Moe, Curly, and Shemp respectively
  • Ports 5-8 are on the vSAN VLAN for Larry, Moe, Curly, and Shemp respectively (Although Shemp is currenly Windows, this may not always be the case and I like having a direct-connect from a workstation in to the other VLAN).
  • Port 10 is used for the Uplink to to the rest of the network via the Netgear

NUC Cluster - Stooges

NUC Cluster Summary
Once the cluster has been setup with vSAN enabled, here’s a shot of my summary page.

NOTE: The Virtual SAN Health will keep a Warning under Hardware compatibility since the NUCs aren’t on the vSAN HCL. I’ve deleted the (could have also just disabled) the three vCenter alarms associated with these so that my hosts don’t constantly show a warning:

  • SCSI Controller on Virtual SAN HCL
  • Controller Drive
  • Controller Release Support

Proactive Test Results

vSAN Proactive Test Results
Well, not sure if I needed to run these, but there was a button to push so I pushed it ;) All passed, so cool!