After a year with the stage II setup, it was time for a more powerful configuration.
I searched for powerful machines with a small energy footprint. What I found was an Apple Mac Mini Server (2012):
CPU: 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz).
Memory: 16GB (two 8GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 Memory
Storage: Dual 1TB (5400rpm) drives
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000
Connections and Expansions: Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps), Four USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps), SDXC card Slot
Ethernet: 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
Electrical Requirements: Maximum continuous power: 85W
The Installation was not an easy part....
First I swapped out one of the 1TB HDDs for a Samsung 830 SSD with 256GB capacity. I wanted to install ESXi on the SDXC Card, but I realized that the Slot was not usable by ESXi. I decided to install vSphere on the SSD. I wanted to use the SSD and the HDD for virtual machines. Due to help from William Lam (virtuallyghetto) I was able to install VMware vSphere 5.0 on both of my new Apple Mac Minis 6,2. Great!!
But having only Gigabit Network port was a problem. William got a solution for that problem, too. I plugged in my Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, installed his Little custom driver and after a reboot, I got 2 gigabit connecitons on both of my new powerful servers....
I still used my custom build ESXi Server from Stage I, but just for special testings.....
I bought another HP Procurve 8 port switch and I used two Cisco WLAN Access port in conjunction with the POE injectors.
There was one big problem inside my homelab environment: What happens, when one of These 1TB HDDs fail?
I configured vSphere Replication and the VMs from SSD are replicated to the HDD to the other Mac Mini Server. The VMs on the HDD are replicated to the other Server, too.
I was very happy with this Environment, but you know what Comes next....
I played with 10GbE at customer Projects and I loved it. My decision was clear. I want 10GbE at home....