Home > C2100, Dell, Hardware, Home Lab > HomeLab: Dell C2100 Cloud Server

HomeLab: Dell C2100 Cloud Server

If you’ve been following the adventures of your favourite little vExpert, then you know that I have a problem with my Home Lab – it never seems to be enough.  Recently, I’ve added to the fleet, by way of a Dell C2100 2U Cloud Server. 

A quick general overview of the C2100 can be found at Dell’s site.  For those who don’t feel like jumping around, I’ll give you my high level review:

Dell Cloud Services (DCS) based 2U Rack server:

  • 2x Intel 55xx/5600 CPU – mine came with a single L5630 Quad Core
  • 18x DIMM sockets, supporting up to DDR3-10600 and 8GB for 144GB
  • 12x 3.5” hot swap drive bays
  • 2x 2.5” internally mounted drives – attached to CPU/Fan shroud
  • 6x SATA onboard, should you feel like using the internal 2.5” drives
  • 2x Intel 82576 10/100/1000 NIC’s
  • 1x onboard IPMI interface
  • Dell PERC H700 512GB BBU based PCIe RAID
  • 2x PCIe slots, although one is taken up by the PERC H700, so only one is free.

That’s about it really.  My “Media Server” has been running on some obsolete SATA disks for a while, and it was time to upgrade.  I found a deal on some Toshiba 3TB 7200RPM drives, but then needed a chassis.  I also needed to upgrade from the PERC5/I I’ve been using in the media server forever.  Then I realized, I could kill two birds with one stone….  it also doesn’t hurt that it only cost about $800 landed, all-in.  Add the cost of a PERC H700 on it’s own at $400, and the case isn’t much more.

Traditionally, my Media Server has been completely separate from the Lab.  This helps increase the WAF, as well as leave me a console available if the lab goes to hell.   Also the lab has been running on a Dell C6100 4 node cluster for a while, with a Dell PE2950 as backup.  The issue is that I can’t vMotion VM’s from the cluster to the PE2950 due to CPU differences.  Even powered off, there are some options that aren’t available.  I often recommend that folks build a “Cluster” and an “off-Cluster” node, to use during maintenance, etc, as a “bare minimum stack”.  By eating my own dog food and ideas, I could meet all of the following needs:

  • Combined Media Server with Off-SAN storage
  • Provide a Veeam backup repo that was off-SAN for myself and others I lab with via VPN
  • Provide a place to work with Virtual Appliances, especially SAN simulators
  • The ability to run the VM’s from the cluster via vMotion and/or svMotion.  This allows me to offload the C6100 or SAN(s) if needed, such as if I get an amazing offer to sell one, or just need to rip apart something and start from scratch.
  • Obsolete the Media Server as it stands, and recoup the costs by tossing it on Kijiji and seeing who might annoy me.

It is worth noting that the C2100 ‘feels’ much different from a C6100.  The BIOS and IPMI are different, the chassis and trays are different, etc.  Also the mezzanine card option is limited to a 10GbE adapter, and while there is a proprietary slot for an LSI 2008 based SAS RAID card (Dell P/N: 85M9R), which would free up a PCIe slot, it appears about as rare as hen’s teeth.

It also comes with what are about the worst rack rail options on the planet.  DCS, please, if you’re going to keep building these servers, buy whoever is OEM’ing them (Supermicro?) and throw in some PowerEdge goodness!

I’ll post a BIOS/IPMI config HOWTO for these shortly, as well as how to get it monitored in Nagios.  After that, I’ll do a quick post on how to upgrade the BIOS/BMC/SOC, and in what order – and what to do if you think you’ve bricked your board!

Categories: C2100, Dell, Hardware, Home Lab
  1. gsonovb
    May 8, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    May I ask C1100 and C2100 support 3TB (st3000dm001), 4TB (st4000dm001) normal hard disk?

    and, H700 supports Win2012 R2?
    I want to use Win2012 R2 storage space built NAS? Thank you.

    PS. In the online store to see this product is not new, it is very cheap. But parts are not very wide, so I hope to specify what parts.

    In addition, the chassis supports LSI SAS 9210-8i HBA card? Thank you

    • May 10, 2014 at 12:19 AM

      The disk support is going to vary by connectivity. I don’t know what the onboard SATA/SAS ports would do themselves. However, the H700 would support at least the 3TB drives I have installed in mine, so I’d guess 4TB as well.

      If you can’t find drivers for a Dell component on one model (eg: C2100) try another model that had it (eg: R710). By doing so, because the OS is supported, you’ll find your better driver matrix. So the H700 on R710 with Windows 2012 R2 shows: http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/19/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=C3X7D&fileId=3357644617&osCode=W12R2&productCode=poweredge-r710&languageCode=EN&categoryId=SF That doesn’t automatically mean that it will work as a combination in the C2100. But it ‘should’. Note that you should NOT use a RAID controller in Storage Spaces or VSAN configurations. The system wants direct access to those disks. While you can make single disk RAID0 drives and do it that way, it is not recommended and I’d be surprised if it is supported.

      It is very cheap, because they were custom made for Cloud Providers, and thus they aren’t mainstream. They’re being liquidated in units of 100’s not singles, and that drives the prices down. Parts are plentiful enough though on eBay.

      I have no idea if the chassis supports LSI SAS 9210-8i card. If you ship it to me, I’ll let you know how it worked 🙂 But realistically, I’m not product support… I’ve only used the H700 – successfully.

      • gsonovb
        May 10, 2014 at 6:45 AM

        Thank you for reply.

        I wanted to use the motherboard (non-server) comes on SATA port, but the backplane interface is MiniSAS,
        Do not use RAID card, no MiniSAS, can not use the 12 hot-swappable hard drives, right?

        DELL H310 (9211-8i) This card supports Win2012 R2, just do not know whether the chassis backplane compatible?

        PS. 9210-8i (IBM M1015) ,9211-8i (DELL H310) Official support 2012 R2 systems.

  2. December 2, 2015 at 9:30 AM

    Would the C2100 make a good shared storage server for a Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V cluster? I was thinking of using SMB 3.0 for cluster communications. Thanks!

    • December 2, 2015 at 9:39 AM

      Shared storage? I don’t think so as it only has the one SAS backplane. If you had two of them and did a SoFS, that could work. I know some of the guys are using Mellanox cards to do 10 or 40gb with RDMA and SMB3.

      • December 2, 2015 at 9:52 AM

        True, but this is just for my home lab, not production, and so I can practice with clustering. I was more interested in the number of HDD the thing could hold. Do you have another recommendation? I have three Dell R710 servers now for Hyper-V hosts. Just need shared storage.

  3. December 2, 2015 at 9:47 PM

    Then you should be able to use this just fine. Just set it up with SoFS with two of them and you should be good to go. Alternatively, if your desire is to learn HyperV clustering, you don’t really need a pair of HA storage – you largely need HA hosts. That will let you play with live migrations, host evacuations, maintenance cycles, etc.

    • December 4, 2015 at 7:49 AM

      Thank you very much for your feedback. I was looking at the C2100 because I can get them from savemyserver.com for $900 with 10k SAS drives and two quad core procs with 32G of RAM.

      Great work on the blog!


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