How do you configure a high-availability cluster using Proxmox VE on two Intel NUC 11 Pro kits?

12 June 2024

Configuring a high-availability cluster might seem like a task for seasoned IT professionals, but with the right guidance, it is accessible even to those newer to the field. Leveraging Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE) and two Intel NUC 11 Pro kits offers a robust and scalable solution for setting up a high-availability system that ensures your data and services remain online, even when unexpected events occur. In this article, we will walk you through the steps required to achieve a high-availability cluster using Proxmox VE on two Intel NUC 11 Pro kits.

Intel NUCs, particularly the Intel NUC 11 Pro kits, have revolutionized the mini-PC landscape with their compact size, powerful performance, and versatility. These systems are perfect for various applications, from home media servers to enterprise-grade systems. When paired with Proxmox VE, an open-source server management platform focused on virtualization, you can create a high-availability cluster that is both efficient and reliable.

Proxmox VE allows you to manage virtual machines and containers with a web-based interface, providing tools to handle system and data redundancy, hardware RAID configurations, and advanced options for networking and storage. This makes it an ideal choice for deploying a high-availability cluster.

Preparing the Hardware Components

To begin, you need to prepare the hardware components necessary for setting up your high-availability cluster. This includes two Intel NUC 11 Pro kits, network cables, and storage solutions such as SSDs or NAS servers for shared storage.

Intel NUC 11 Pro Kits

The Intel NUC 11 Pro kits are compact but mighty. They come with the latest hardware, including powerful Intel processors, ample RAM support, and various connectivity options. Ensure both NUCs are equipped with the same hardware specifications to maintain uniformity in your cluster.

Network Configuration

A robust and reliable network setup is critical for a high-availability cluster. Connect both Intel NUCs to a network switch using high-speed Ethernet cables. This setup ensures low-latency communication between the nodes, which is essential for the cluster's performance and stability.

Storage Solutions

For shared storage, you can use a NAS (Network Attached Storage) server or configure hardware RAID within each Intel NUC. NAS servers are ideal for storing and accessing data across multiple nodes. Ensure your storage solution is reliable and offers redundancy to prevent data loss.

Installing Proxmox VE on Intel NUCs

Once the hardware is ready, the next step is to install Proxmox VE on both Intel NUCs. Proxmox VE is a powerful, open-source server management platform that simplifies the deployment and management of virtual machines and containers.

Download and Prepare Proxmox VE Installation

  1. Download Proxmox VE: Visit the official Proxmox website and download the latest version of Proxmox VE.
  2. Create a Bootable USB Drive: Use tools like Rufus to create a bootable USB drive with the Proxmox VE ISO file.

Installing Proxmox VE

  1. Boot from USB: Insert the bootable USB drive into each Intel NUC and boot from it.
  2. Install Proxmox VE: Follow the on-screen instructions to install Proxmox VE. Choose the appropriate hard disk for installation and configure network settings.
  3. Initial Configuration: After installation, access the Proxmox VE web interface using the IP address assigned during the installation process.

Configuring the Proxmox VE Cluster

With Proxmox VE installed on both Intel NUCs, it's time to configure the high-availability cluster. This involves creating a cluster, adding nodes, and setting up shared storage.

Creating a Cluster

  1. Access the Web Interface: Log in to the Proxmox VE web interface on the first Intel NUC.
  2. Create a Cluster: Navigate to the "Datacenter" section and select "Cluster." Click on "Create Cluster" and provide a name for your cluster.
  3. Join Nodes: On the second Intel NUC, access the Proxmox VE web interface, navigate to "Datacenter," and select "Join Cluster." Enter the cluster information from the first NUC to join the cluster.

Configuring Shared Storage

Shared storage is crucial for high availability, as it allows virtual machines and data to be accessed by both nodes in the cluster.

  1. Add Storage: In the Proxmox VE web interface, navigate to "Datacenter" and select "Storage." Click on "Add" and choose the type of storage (e.g., NFS, iSCSI, or CIFS).
  2. Configure Storage: Provide the necessary details for your shared storage solution. Ensure that both nodes have access to this shared storage.

Setting Up High Availability

  1. Enable HA: In the Proxmox VE web interface, navigate to "HA" and enable the high-availability service.
  2. Assign Resources: Assign virtual machines or containers to the high-availability group, ensuring they are configured to automatically migrate to the other node in case of failure.

Managing Virtual Machines and Containers

With your high-availability cluster configured, you can now create and manage virtual machines and containers using the Proxmox VE web interface.

Creating Virtual Machines

  1. Create VM: In the Proxmox VE web interface, navigate to "Create VM" and follow the wizard to configure your virtual machine.
  2. Allocate Resources: Choose the number of CPU cores, amount of RAM, and storage for your VM. Ensure resources are allocated efficiently to maintain performance.

Managing Containers

  1. Create Container: Navigate to "Create CT" to create a container. Containers are lightweight and share the host operating system's kernel, making them efficient for running multiple isolated applications.
  2. Configure Resources: Set the CPU, memory, and storage limits for the container.

Using Docker and Docker Compose

For easier application deployment, you can use Docker and Docker Compose within your Proxmox VE environment. Docker allows you to run applications in containers, while Docker Compose helps manage multi-container applications.

  1. Install Docker: SSH into your virtual machine or container and install Docker using the appropriate commands for your operating system.
  2. Set Up Docker Compose: Install Docker Compose to manage and deploy your multi-container applications.

Advanced Options for Network and Storage

To further enhance your high-availability cluster, consider implementing advanced options for network and storage management.

Network Bonding

Network bonding combines multiple network interfaces into a single logical interface, providing redundancy and increased bandwidth.

  1. Configure Bonding: In the Proxmox VE web interface, navigate to "Network" and create a bond using multiple network interfaces.
  2. Set Bonding Mode: Choose the appropriate bonding mode (e.g., balance-rr, active-backup) based on your network requirements.

Hardware RAID

Implementing hardware RAID ensures data redundancy and improves storage performance.

  1. Configure RAID: Use the RAID controller within your Intel NUCs to configure hardware RAID. Choose a RAID level (e.g., RAID 1 for mirroring, RAID 5 for striping with parity) based on your needs.
  2. Integrate with Proxmox VE: Ensure the RAID array is recognized by Proxmox VE and configure it as part of your shared storage.

Configuring a high-availability cluster using Proxmox VE on two Intel Nuc 11 Pro kits is a feasible and effective solution for maintaining uptime and ensuring data integrity. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set up a reliable and powerful system that leverages the compact and capable Intel NUCs, along with the versatile and robust Proxmox VE platform.

With proper network and storage configuration, resource management, and the use of advanced options, your high-availability cluster will be well-prepared to handle various workloads and provide seamless service continuity. Embrace the power of Intel NUCs and Proxmox VE to build a high-availability system that meets your requirements and stands the test of time.

By following these guidelines, you now possess the knowledge to set up a high-availability cluster using Proxmox VE on Intel NUC 11 Pro kits. This configuration ensures your systems remain operational and your data stays secure, providing peace of mind and reliability for your applications and services.

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