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  1. #1

    Hightower's Avatar
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    What do you think of this?

    We're looking at getting a new server, that will probably run Windows 2003. What do people think of this spec:

    The server will be tasked with running 3 x VM's - Moodle, Zimbra, and Insight from Tasc. Do people think this will do the job? Is it overkill? Do we need a better spec?

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    Base
    PowerEdge T410 Tower Chassis for Up to 6x 3.5" Cabled HDDs with Quad-Pack LED Diagnostics
    Processor
    Intel® Xeon® E5502, 1.86Ghz, 4M Cache, 4.86 GT/s QPI, 800MHz Max Memory
    Additional Processor
    Intel® Xeon® E5502, 1.86GHz, 4M Cache, 4.86 GT/s QPI, 800MHz Max Memory
    Memory
    16GB Memory for 2 CPUs, DDR3, 1066MHz (4x4GB Dual Ranked RDIMMs)
    Support Services
    3Yr ProSupport for IT and 4hr Mission Critical
    Raid Connectivity
    C6 Cabled - RAID 6 with PERC 6/i, 4-6 SAS/SATA Cabled HDDs
    1st Hard Drive - Multiquantity
    6 x 146GB, SAS, 3.5-inch, 15K RPM Hard Drive (Cabled)
    Power Supply
    Redundant Power Supply (2 PSU) 580W
    ADDITIONAL HARDWARE OPTIONSNetwork Cards
    Intel® PRO 1000PT Single Port Server Adapter, Gigabit NIC, Cu, PCIe x4
    Optical Devices
    16X DVD-ROM Drive SATA with SATA Cable
    Last edited by Hightower; 15th October 2009 at 10:34 AM.

  2. #2

    webman's Avatar
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    The only problem I can see is that it will be running Windows 2003. Why not run something bare-metal such as VMWare ESXi or Citrix Xen? Less cost, smaller attack surface, uses less resources (leaves more for the VMs), and requires less maintenance.

    I would upgrade the disk capacity now and RAID it - you never know when you will need more, and redundancy is a good thing.
    Last edited by webman; 15th October 2009 at 10:16 AM. Reason: Added 'less cost' argument

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    sparkeh's Avatar
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    Just to echo webman, if you are going down the route of running VMs then use a VM platform rather than running them in 2003.

    I also like to run redundant disks to jump in in case of failure.

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    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    The only problem I can see is that it will be running Windows 2003. Why not run something bare-metal such as VMWare ESXi or Citrix Xen? Less cost, smaller attack surface, uses less resources (leaves more for the VMs), and requires less maintenance.

    I would upgrade the disk capacity now and RAID it - you never know when you will need more, and redundancy is a good thing.
    My bad - server has 6 x HDD's shown which are RAID 6. I'll have a look into ESXi as all it will be doing is running other VM's - how easy is it to backup though using ESXi?

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    webman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hightower View Post
    My bad - server has 6 x HDD's shown which are RAID 6. I'll have a look into ESXi as all it will be doing is running other VM's - how easy is it to backup though using ESXi?
    Ahh okay, sorry - that's good. I thought it just had the physical "space" to hold 6 HDDs

    There are community backup scripts for ESXi (have a look on the VMWare forums) or have a look at commercial solutions like VMWare ESX Backup. Or just regular backup methods on each server OS.

  6. #6

    Hightower's Avatar
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    So overall (setting aside OS for now) does the spec look good enough to host 3 VM's, serving Moodle, Zimbra, and Insight to 700 users?

    I figured around 4gb RAM for Moodle and 4gb RAM for Zimbra would suffice, leaving whatever is left for the Insight stuff? I chose 15k HDD's for speed. Didn't know whether processors would be powerful enough?

  7. #7

    webman's Avatar
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    Look like similar processors to what we have in ours. Disks should be fine.

    I'm not familiar with or ever heard of Insight, but you can easily allocate 4GB of RAM to each VM to begin with and then expand from there if you need to.

    How many users will Zimbra be running for? On our set up it uses about 5GB in memory - approximately 1000 accounts and about 200 or so concurrent connections using the advanced web client during the day. IIRC, if you change the amount of RAM allocated to Zimbra, you have to tell Zimbra the amount of new RAM it has (so that it can adjust it's internal allocation sizes etc) - this is in the Zimbra forums and/or wiki somewhere.

  8. #8

    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    Look like similar processors to what we have in ours. Disks should be fine.

    I'm not familiar with or ever heard of Insight, but you can easily allocate 4GB of RAM to each VM to begin with and then expand from there if you need to.

    How many users will Zimbra be running for? On our set up it uses about 5GB in memory - approximately 1000 accounts and about 200 or so concurrent connections using the advanced web client during the day. IIRC, if you change the amount of RAM allocated to Zimbra, you have to tell Zimbra the amount of new RAM it has (so that it can adjust it's internal allocation sizes etc) - this is in the Zimbra forums and/or wiki somewhere.
    At the minute Zimbra is set to run with about 200 accounts, with maybe 50 concurrent connections (if that). It's running nicely with 1GB on a VM at the minute, but we are looking at the possibility of running with it completely (around 640 kids and 100 staff).

    Insight is some software that gives parents access to their kids SIMS information (i.e. attendance, reports, assessments etc). They say a 4GB VM should be more than enough.

  9. #9

    Hightower's Avatar
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    Changing the subject slightly now webman, do you use VSXi?

    Do you know if it can be installed on a HP Tower workstation? I want to have a look at ESXi but don't have a spare server - the only thing I have lying around is a HP MicroTower with 1GB RAM.

  10. #10

    webman's Avatar
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    Yes we currently have a single ESXi server but will soon be making that two - all Dell PE 2950s

    For testing purposes, 1GB of RAM should be OK; but are the processors up to scratch? They really need to support virtualisation - e.g. Xeons. I forget which AMD chip does virtualisation...

  11. #11

    Hightower's Avatar
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    I'm not worried about the speed of the thing to test - just wanted to have a look around it etc.

    Will try downloading the one for HP machines to see if that one works, as the normal ISO threw an error during installation.

  12. #12
    DMcCoy's Avatar
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    You may find ESXi will not install properly with only 1GB RAM

  13. #13

    localzuk's Avatar
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    You won't get it working without CPU based virtualisation support. The list of support is here: VMware Compatibility Guide - Search the VMware Compatibility Guide

  14. #14

    teejay's Avatar
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    The original spec is fine apart from a lack of network ports, you really want at least 4 nic ports. I would slap in a 4 port nic.

  15. #15

    teejay's Avatar
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    Also, if going down the Esxi route, make sure you download the version optimised for Dell servers.

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