Here is your Cheap Mini Me Portable vSphere ESXi 6.5 Host

Have you ever needed a temporary portable ESXi server?  It's not like you can carry one in your back pocket.  Well now you (almost) can.  Protectli makes a series of mini-appliance Vault servers called the FW6A (Celeron), FW6B (Intel I3) AND FW6C (Intel I5).  The only difference between these models is the CPU.  These devices come with a built in mSATA slot, two SO-DIMM DDR4 1866/2133 1.2V memory slots that support up to 16GB DIMMs (total of 32GB) and six 1GB ethernet ports.  Although not officially listed on VMware's Hardware Compatibility Guide, you can install ESXi 6.5 on it.  You can run most Linux variants, Windows 10 and XenServer on it as well.  The unit is approximately 6"x5"x2", has an external power adapter and no internal fans.  For around $1,300 you can have a portable ESXi server that has 32GB of memory and 1TB of storage.  We plan to use this host for a number of uses:

  1. Host for vCenter Appliance. For a lot of installations, we need a vCenter Server running before we setup the hosts, but we want to use the vCenter Server Appliance. We could install the Windows version of vCenter, but it's extra work to migrate the vCenter Server over to the appliance version after the hosts are running. With this small host we can install the vCenter Server Appliance and then vMotion over the appliance after the "real" hosts are installed, or you could just leave the vCenter appliance permanently running on the FW6.
  2. vSAN Witness Server. If you're running a vSAN two node cluster, you need a vSAN Witness server for quorum. This server is a cost-effective solution for a vSAN witness server in a two node vSAN cluster.
  3. Recovery Host. If you're running a cluster with the vCenter Server Appliance and the entire cluster goes down you often need to restore the vCenter Server first. If you're running the vCenter Server appliance, this can be problematic because you don't have a host to restore the vCenter Server Appliance on. You can use this appliance to restore the vCenter Server, bring up the cluster and then vMotion the vCenter Server back to cluster to simplify the recovery process.
  4. Swing Server. If you need a temporary server to place VM's during a migration, you can use this host as a swing server.

I'm sure we'll come up with other uses for this neat little device.  It's available directly at or on    You might be able to save a little bit of money by purchasing the RAM and mSATA drive separately on Amazon.  Now all I need is a camera carrying case and pants with a really large pocket.


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