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Hardware Thread, Home VMware/Dev server recommendations? in Technical; This is a quick one really but here's the deal.. I currently have an ASUS machine with a Highpoint RAID ...
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    contink's Avatar
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    Home VMware/Dev server recommendations?

    This is a quick one really but here's the deal..

    I currently have an ASUS machine with a Highpoint RAID card in it, acting as a Win2k3 server whilst housing two additional VMware Win2k3x64 guest OS's and I'd like to move to something a bit more purpose built and start making use of 64bit memory, etc... I'd stay where I am with it but it is getting a bit long in the tooth and less reliable so it's time to look ahead.

    I already have some new-ish hard drives as well as some very nice DDR2 Ram sitting around spare so can anyone suggest a reasonable spec server unit to do the job. Budget is around the 250 - 300 mark.


    Ultimately the plan is to move everything on to an ESXi 4 system so that even the main 2k3 server is a guest OS and then get it all moved to guest win2k8 OS's once I've figured out when the schools will be able to consider it.

    Recommendations, etc... would be very welcome...

    Oh and this is for my own use at home, not for a school btw so no LOUD wind tunnel machines

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    Duke's Avatar
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    Just bear in mind when you move to ESX4 there's a limited hardware compatibility list so you'd likely run into issues with a home-built machine unless you're careful what RAID and network cards you use.

    For the current one are you looking to build the whole thing from scratch or maybe buy a Dell workstation/desktop and add in the RAM and HDDs? As far as spec goes it depends how much load you're putting on it and what you're doing with it.

    Chris

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    contink (2nd September 2009)

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    contink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke View Post
    Just bear in mind when you move to ESX4 there's a limited hardware compatibility list so you'd likely run into issues with a home-built machine unless you're careful what RAID and network cards you use.
    That was probably why I had a little twitch in the old gut feeling so thanks for the tip

    For the current one are you looking to build the whole thing from scratch or maybe buy a Dell workstation/desktop and add in the RAM and HDDs? As far as spec goes it depends how much load you're putting on it and what you're doing with it.
    Well, at present I'm using it for:
    • Small network DC (6 PC's max)
    • Exchange server (on one of VMs) for 2 users
    • DNS, DHCP, print server, file server (again 2 users)
    • WDS/RIS/etc... image testing
    • App repackaging and testing using guest XP OS images
    • Archive for backups, etc...

    There's no real plans to expand that out to more users or try to do anything clever like host a web site through it, etc... it's really just my means of testing and expanding on my skills base while handling the general admin of running my business.

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    I like the little Dell and HPs that go on offer every so often. Although people mention hardware compatibility i personally have always been fine (that was ESXi3 and Citrix Xen though).
    You'll get a quad core xeon/opteron base system for 175ish, + 40 ram, + 2x 1tb HD @ 55each = A pretty high spec home server for just over 300.

    Have a look at Citrix Xen btw. I havnnt used ESX4 but it is certainly better than ESXi3.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 2nd September 2009 at 01:43 PM.

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    contink (2nd September 2009)

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    Duke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky View Post
    I like the little Dell and HPs that go on offer every so often. Although people mention hardware compatibility i personally have always been fine (that was ESXi3 and Citrix Xen though).
    If you want something low-hassle and with a warranty then this is a good idea. I've been running Xen and ESX4 on some Dell Optiplex 760s, and the only thing that needed changing on them was the network card. Xen would take some old 100Mb network cards I had lying around but I had to buy some Intel Pro 1000's for ESX (the internal card is an Intel one but was too new to be supported). The disks weren't recognised under ESX3.5 but were fine in 4.0.

    If it was going free virtualisation then I'd choose Xen, but if I was paying for it then I've found the development, features and community behind VMware make it worthwhile. I'll probably be going ESX4/vSphere for 20-odd servers next summer.

    Cheers,
    Chris

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    We put a bundle together just the other day that may be just what you're looking for - Take a look and see what you think!

    HP ML115 'Ideal Virtualisation Testbed' Bundle | ServersPlus

    Cheers

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    bizzel (2nd September 2009), Butuz (4th September 2009), contink (2nd September 2009)

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    I got me one of these:

    SUN Fire V60x Dual XEON 3.06Ghz 6Gb 1U Server + RAILS on eBay (end time 05-Sep-09 18:35:23 BST)

    Perfect for the job and makes a lovely monitor raiser!

    ** Specs **

    Processors: 2 x Intel Xeon 3.06Ghz each
    Memory: 6Gb installed
    Hard Drives: 72Gb (2 x 36Gb installed)

    all for 290 delivered!

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    contink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke View Post
    If you want something low-hassle and with a warranty then this is a good idea. I've been running Xen and ESX4 on some Dell Optiplex 760s, and the only thing that needed changing on them was the network card. Xen would take some old 100Mb network cards I had lying around but I had to buy some Intel Pro 1000's for ESX (the internal card is an Intel one but was too new to be supported). The disks weren't recognised under ESX3.5 but were fine in 4.0.
    I'll be honest, I've never looked at Xen and if I'm even more honest I don't want to spend time learning yet another system when I'm already pretty comfortable with VMWare (although I've not actually installed ESX4 either). I have a new Intel PCI nic here and definitialy want a 1Gb connection for the backup transfers so I can afford "little" things like that if needs be

    If it was going free virtualisation then I'd choose Xen, but if I was paying for it then I've found the development, features and community behind VMware make it worthwhile. I'll probably be going ESX4/vSphere for 20-odd servers next summer.
    This makes me wonder if I'm missing something regarding VMWare and paying... I was under the impression that the ESX4 was freely available (without direct support I'm guessing). Am I wrong there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    This makes me wonder if I'm missing something regarding VMWare and paying... I was under the impression that the ESX4 was freely available (without direct support I'm guessing). Am I wrong there?
    ESXi is free, ESX isn't. It's confusing!

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    @James: Yeah... that offer in my inbox was what sparked this whole thing and it does seem reasonably good. I'm kicking the tyres somewhat to see if it's the best idea for my plan. Can you tell me what the RAM configuration is in those and whether I can use more than just 4Gb of RAM in that unit?


    @ahuxham: Looks nice but the lack of HD space would drop it from the running because of the requirement to house my RIS/WDS and archive system backups for non-school clients.


    @James (again): Thanks for the clarification

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    This makes me wonder if I'm missing something regarding VMWare and paying... I was under the impression that the ESX4 was freely available (without direct support I'm guessing). Am I wrong there?
    Quote Originally Posted by ServersPlus
    ESXi is free, ESX isn't. It's confusing!
    Exactly, ESXi is the embedded version that's freely available. ESX has more enterprise-level features and is designed for when you're running quite a few hosts and need to manage them all together. I'll need about four physical hosts for all my VMs and want stuff like HA and FT so will be going with ESX. I actually found 4.0 to be a lot nicer to install and get running with my hardware than 3.0 or 3.5.

    Make sure whatever hardware you buy will let you fit plenty of RAM as you'll need it if your VM requirements grow. I'm crossing my fingers that 48GB will be in my price range next year.

    Cheers,
    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    @James: Yeah... that offer in my inbox was what sparked this whole thing and it does seem reasonably good. I'm kicking the tyres somewhat to see if it's the best idea for my plan. Can you tell me what the RAM configuration is in those and whether I can use more than just 4Gb of RAM in that unit?
    Memory
    PC2-6400 unbuffered DDR2 SDRAM (800MHz)
    Standard memory
    4 GB (2 x 2 GB) Upgraded Memory (1gb standard)
    Processor front side bus
    800 MHz Front Side Bus
    Maximum memory
    8 GB
    Memory slots
    4 DIMM slots

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke View Post
    Exactly, ESXi is the embedded version that's freely available. ESX has more enterprise-level features and is designed for when you're running quite a few hosts and need to manage them all together. I'll need about four physical hosts for all my VMs and want stuff like HA and FT so will be going with ESX. I actually found 4.0 to be a lot nicer to install and get running with my hardware than 3.0 or 3.5.
    To make matter more confusing.... you dont need ESX for HA and FT or the other enterprise features you just need the licences that come with ESX. Allocate to licences to ESXi and it'll act like an ESX server. Management wise they are also the same, its the licences that count.

    The main reason for ESX over ESXi is the full fat service console (locked out in ESXi) that you can do quite alot with.


    ESX4 rocks. I want one for home as the old RM xeon server I have for ESX3.5 takes about 20 mins to boot up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theblacksheep View Post
    To make matter more confusing....
    Explained perfectly thanks..

    The main reason for ESX over ESXi is the full fat service console (locked out in ESXi) that you can do quite alot with.
    Is the VMWare Go an equivalent for basic use though? Essentially I'd want the same functionality as I get with VMWare Server Console at the moment (I'm still using VMWare 1.0.7)... Nothing fancy, but certainly I'd want to actually access the Guest OS's

    ESX4 rocks. I want one for home as the old RM xeon server I have for ESX3.5 takes about 20 mins to boot up.
    ESX4i?


    Ok... confusion starting to creep in

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    @James: Yeah... that offer in my inbox was what sparked this whole thing and it does seem reasonably good. I'm kicking the tyres somewhat to see if it's the best idea for my plan. Can you tell me what the RAM configuration is in those and whether I can use more than just 4Gb of RAM in that unit?
    It's a 2 x 2GB kit in this bundle - it has 4 memory slots though so you can put a 2GB dimm in each one. It takes Unbuffered non-ECC memory as it's an entry-level tower server.

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