VMware ESXi with eSATA RAID enclosure

I have been searching and evaluating different configurations for running VMware ESXi on whitebox hardware for a while. The major obstacle of doing this is how to provide a cheap and reliable RAID solution for the underlying vmware datastore. One solution is to add a esxi compatible RAID controller. However, on those RAID controllers, some are softraid which esxi can only detect individual harddisk. Moreover, even though the esxi can detect the RAID disk built by those RAID controllers, I have to manage them right on the BIOS which need to bring the system down since the provided management software cannot be installed on esxi directly.

After some testing and evaluation, I finally come up with a solution which is to connect a cheap eSATA RAID 1 box to the onboard SATA port of the whitebox machine. Since the eSATA RAID box is connected to the onboard SATA port, I do not need to care about the driver issue as long as the onboard ICH chipset is supported by esxi. Moreover, I can monitor the status and manage the RAID directly on the RAID enclosure instead of doing on the BIOS which bring the machine down. Finally, those boxes are cheap for simple 2-bay and RAID1 configuration which I need (around HK$1100 to $1500)

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