Using my HP DL380 G6 and HP N54L together

Posted by under Servers, on 23 October 2017 @ 10:58pm.

Having now had time to set up and play with my new server, I have now given it proper tasks of running virtual machines rather than just sitting idle.

One of those tasks include running PFSense, a router operating system designed to handle the same tasks as your regular router but on a larger scale. It handles DHCP, routing, port forwarding, etc. This will give me more control over my internal network including the ability to monitor it better. My original router is still in the loop since it is also the VDSL modem, but it is fully DMZ to the PFSense so it acts like it’s not even there. PFSense does still get a local IP on the WAN port though.

Now that I am using the DL380 properly, this means I could retire the N45L from its original job as being the sole server. Since the DL380 only has 2.5″ drive bays this meant that I was unable to use my existing 3.5″ drives unless I found another solution. I was able to re-use the N54L as a NAS by using the FreeNAS OS. This turns the system into a fully fledged NAS to work in any way that I liked.

I had been dabbling with the use of iSCSI attached drives, but found Windows’ implementation poor as it required the use of a virtual hard drive container file to store everything. I didn’t like this because corruption of that file means anything contained within it is lost. For a virtual OS this is not so bad but for my regular data this was not an option. Thankfully, FreeNAS’s implementation allows you to just use a physical disk over iSCSI so that’s what I have done. This is then attached directly to the appropriate VM on the DL380.

The original N54L roles have now been switched to a VM on the DL380. This gives it more power to handle things like the CCTV, my web development setup, my Plex server that I am now able to run thanks to the additional power, and more should I ever need it.

At present the system has only 24GB of RAM with the main server VM using 8GB of that (up to 12GB dynamic). PFSense is allocated 2GB. That gives me plenty to start up more machines if I need it. A friend also passed to me another 48GB of RAM to add when I get the chance bringing the total to 72GB. That will be more than enough for me for the foreseeable future.

Eventually I will run other things on the server including a Steam cache (which I successfully trialled at the weekend and it works great). I just need some additional storage caddies so I can put in some more local drives. Without local drives I will be limited by the network connection to the NAS (1Gbps at present). Future plans include trying to team two NIC’s together for a 2Gbps NAS connection.

All in all it’s been a fun experience so far. One thing I did notice though is that my electricity bill has now doubled thanks to the server using a fair bit of power, but that aside it’s working just as I intended.

This is my setup at the moment. One of the N54L’s is a NAS and the DL380 on the bottom. At the top you can see my HP 1800-8G switch and BT Homehub 5 router/modem. In future I plan to get a rack to put these in but I just don’t have the space at the moment.