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Hardware Thread, Virtual Server Box in Technical; I would like to put a box together to have a play with a virtual server. I the goal is ...
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    Starkiller's Avatar
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    Virtual Server Box

    I would like to put a box together to have a play with a virtual server. I the goal is to use off the self/inexpensive parts to create the server and use two virtual servers - Windows 2003 Servers. One would be a dedicated print server, the other an intranet. Would like to have two or more nics in. Any suggestions for hardware/software config?

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    I'd recommend VMware server or (bit more faff, but better performance/features) ESXi

    For vmware esxi, try Welcome to vm-help.com , especially their Whitebox HCL: Welcome to vm-help.com.

    The main things to get right (if you use ESXi) aside from choosing a CPU supporting virtualisation are the network cards and storage controller.

    The vmware forums are very good: VMware Communities: Community: VI: VMware ESXi

    Here I have Poweredge 860s as production and an Intel Desktop (965) board with a 6600, 6Gb of ram, sata disks and Intel Pro1000 desktop nics as my test / backup box. I needed to use a modified oem.tgz for it to see the storage controller on the Intel board, but that was readily available from vmware forums. Either runs the guest vms without breaking a sweat.

    Off the top of my head there's virtualbox, kvm under linux, Xen under linux and Citrix sell a supported version of Xen too. I'm loathe to use Wikipedia as a reference, but there's a comparison of features here: [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_virtual_machines]Comparison of virtual machines - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

    *waits for Ric to meet his sales targets *

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starkiller View Post
    I would like to put a box together to have a play with a virtual server. I the goal is to use off the self/inexpensive parts to create the server and use two virtual servers - Windows 2003 Servers. One would be a dedicated print server, the other an intranet. Would like to have two or more nics in. Any suggestions for hardware/software config?
    The backbone of our server infrastructure is the Dell T105 - basically Dell's cheapest server. They'll let you specify one with two SATA harddrives (actually, they're often on special offer like that), but you can actually fit at least one more in, so you can boot off one HDD and use another two in RAID-1. There's a PCI slot for a cheap extra gigabit network card and PCI-Express for a RAID controller if you want to splash out.

    I use Xen on top of CentOs 5.1 for virtual machines. Runs Windows VMs a treat - we've licensed two of our boxes for Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, so we can have four Windows VMs per box. £300 a copy for education, I think. Basically, you should be able to get what you want for around £600 - £800.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    The backbone of our server infrastructure is the Dell T105 - basically Dell's cheapest server.
    Sorry, forget - the T105s don't seem to like third-party memory upgrades, i.e. you can't buy a cheap 4GB of RAM from Crucial. I'm not sure why it doesn't work, but we looked up the machine model and RAM type carefully on Crucial's memory finder and made sure we got RAM that was supposed to be compatible. Yes, Crucial memory is "guaranteed", but all that actually means is that they'll give you your money back, not that the RAM has actually been tested in the given machine. They can only go by the specifications given by the manufacturers, and for some reason the RAM that you'd think should work okay given the specification doesn't.

    --
    David Hicks

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    I'd go with vmware server (not esxi). ESXi is cool for a wee bit of performance (10% I believe) but without the cool toys you have to pay for (Vmware infrastructure client, heartbeat, etc) it's not worth it for a lab.

    So get a bunch of memory and a quad core computer and you'll be pretty happy. I'd shoot for 8gb of memory (make sure you get a mobo that says it supports this!) and a quad core processor, a 250gig+ hard drive, and you're golden. You can easily host 4 Server 2003 VMs (core each practically, and 2gb of mem) or more likely up to 7-8 VMs splitting a core each and 1gb of mem.

    Make sure you back up your VMs by the way!

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    Quote Originally Posted by goaliepride View Post
    I'd go with vmware server (not esxi). ESXi is cool for a wee bit of performance (10% I believe) but without the cool toys you have to pay for (Vmware infrastructure client, heartbeat, etc) it's not worth it for a lab.

    So get a bunch of memory and a quad core computer and you'll be pretty happy. I'd shoot for 8gb of memory (make sure you get a mobo that says it supports this!) and a quad core processor, a 250gig+ hard drive, and you're golden. You can easily host 4 Server 2003 VMs (core each practically, and 2gb of mem) or more likely up to 7-8 VMs splitting a core each and 1gb of mem.

    Make sure you back up your VMs by the way!
    On the contrary - I would say go with ESX3i server which is a free download - it takes 10 minutes to install it from the CD, You can mage it with Vmware infrastructure client which is a free download. The advanceced features that are lacking in the free version of ESXi are aimed at multiple physical server setups with SAN - not needed on a basic single server test setup to be honest.

    Trust me - it's easy to set up and it also gets you used to dealing with the ESX interface which is good for you when you do decide to virtualise everything.

    Just my 2p!

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    hey Guys,

    vmware is good but personally i would go for a small HP ML310 or ML115 , put 4-6gb in there, 2 x sata 160gbs, 2 dual port nics, and install Virtual Iron virtualisation software on it.

    I got this running at home, hosting 2 x windows 2003 server, 1 x windows 2008 server and 2 x XP Pro desktops....all for testing purposes.

    Sammy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    On the contrary - I would say go with ESX3i server which is a free download - it takes 10 minutes to install it from the CD, You can mage it with Vmware infrastructure client which is a free download. The advanceced features that are lacking in the free version of ESXi are aimed at multiple physical server setups with SAN - not needed on a basic single server test setup to be honest.

    Trust me - it's easy to set up and it also gets you used to dealing with the ESX interface which is good for you when you do decide to virtualise everything.

    Just my 2p!
    What do you use for backups?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sammy View Post
    hey Guys,

    vmware is good but personally i would go for a small HP ML310 or ML115 , put 4-6gb in there, 2 x sata 160gbs, 2 dual port nics, and install Virtual Iron virtualisation software on it.

    I got this running at home, hosting 2 x windows 2003 server, 1 x windows 2008 server and 2 x XP Pro desktops....all for testing purposes.

    Sammy
    Although you may be slightly biased as you are the virtual iron contact for TI group

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    Very true....but i also deal with VMWARE, and Citrix so it makes no odds to me.

    Im basing it purely on same functionality, almost same interface and a third of the cost.

    to be quite honest, the vmware is excellent and we as a company sell alot of it and the Citrix....but for the purpose of this post which is a testing environment requirement, the branding is almost irrelevent. The free versions of both are excellent.

    These days however it all seems to come down to price.

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    Jay
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    If you use Windows Datacentre for your host you are licenced for any number of Windows Server guest OS's (of the same vintage). Its what we use (with VMWare Server 2) to keep licencing costs down for non-essential stuff like Windows update servers and test boxes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
    If you use Windows Datacentre for your host you are licenced for any number of Windows Server guest OS's (of the same vintage). Its what we use (with VMWare Server 2) to keep licencing costs down for non-essential stuff like Windows update servers and test boxes.
    I thought you were only licenced for 4 virtual instances??? Or is that just Enterprise?

    Butuz

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    I thought you were only licenced for 4 virtual instances??? Or is that just Enterprise?

    Butuz
    Enterprise is 4, Datacenter is unlimited. Along with the softening for applications such as exchange when migrating, things are much easier.

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    Hmm that is a very interesting little tit bit.

    Butuz

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    Jay
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    I think we paid around £400 for two processor licences for 2003 (2008 upgrade rights). Popping them on a cheap Dell, (2xXeon, SAS, 8GB RAM) allows me to run over 20 VM's at once. It's capable of a lot more with extra memory as I'm mainly using it for web servers and suchlike where the processor and discs are hardly used.

    Have to admit, I'm going to be looking at ESX or something similar for production systems where I want HA, inc on the fly migration between boxes. Aiming for the magic 99.99% uptime is going to cost a bit.

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