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Hardware Thread, What to look for when purchasing a Server for ESXi in Technical; Looking at maybe beating the VAT increase and ordering a server now. I am not sure how to approach this ...
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    mattx's Avatar
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    What to look for when purchasing a Server for ESXi

    Looking at maybe beating the VAT increase and ordering a server now. I am not sure how to approach this in regards to either getting some huge HDs and installing a RAID5 and then building OS's on those or connecting ESXi to our iSCSI SAN I installed over the summer which is a hitachi sms 100.
    Also does anyone have any feed back in regards to installing ESXi or having it already in built to the server.
    Please chuck some suggestions and idea in my direction in regards to spec.
    I'm looking to either install server 2008 [ a few ] or migrate our current setup which is 5 2003 servers - nothing really CPU extensive.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    You don't really want your storage in the host for virtualisation as it prevents you adding additional servers in the future and easily moving VMs between them.

    You want lots of fast processing cores and lots of RAM. I opted for XenServer over ESX because the licensing worked out better for the quad-processor boxes I got.

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    mattx (2nd December 2010)

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    mattx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    You don't really want your storage in the host for virtualisation as it prevents you adding additional servers in the future and easily moving VMs between them.

    You want lots of fast processing cores and lots of RAM. I opted for XenServer over ESX because the licensing worked out better for the quad-processor boxes I got.
    Can you let me know what you have [ specs etc ] - would appreciate it. I was not sure if there would be a impact in regards to performance when using the SAN for both VMs and storage. Plus I have already used two of the dedicated ports from the SAN.

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    Domino's Avatar
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    ESXi runs fine off an SD card FYI, done it on our last few bladecentre installs and its great. Good way of knocking some cost off the hosts.

    As for whether to get it preinstalled/builtin or install yourself -as long as the hardware's supported the install process takes minutes, so whatever's most cost-effective I'd go for

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    mattx (2nd December 2010)

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    Lots of RAM, lots of NICs, decent CPUs specced to your processing requirements, no internal HDDs, SD card for ESXi, VM storage on a SAN/NAS.

    DELL R710
    2x L5520 @ 2.26GHZ/8MB
    48GB DDR3 (12X4GB) 1066MHZ
    DUAL GIG ENET/4PORT
    NO CONTROLLER, DRIVES OR OS
    INTERNAL 1GB SD
    INTEL GIGABIT ET QUAD PCI-E CARD
    2x HIGH OUTPUT REDUNDANT PSU 870W
    SLIDING READY RAILS W/OUT ARM
    3YR SUPPORT

    Always check the VMware HCL before buying.

    Chris

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    mattx (2nd December 2010)

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Bought an HP DL380 G4 for this job, was end of line and very keenly priced. Opteron Quad-Core, if you're going ESXi and free it's only licenced for one processor socket so get as many cores as possible! I went for internal storage for the VMs due to budget, bought a set of 146GB disks for RAID5. ESXi running from an 8GB good quality memory stick inside (very little I/O I believe). Good machine, currently has 12GB RAM and three VMs in it, plenty of room for more.

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    mattx (2nd December 2010)

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    mattx's Avatar
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    What sort of sized LUNS do you suggest for VMs ? [ I have created 2 so for both 1TB each for data ] and can you share a LUN and have more than one VM running off that LUN ?

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    Hi Guys,

    If you're looking it intel, the buy the 5600 series Xeons,
    AMD have a very cost effective offering with the 6100 series 8 and 12 core opteron processors.

    Either connect to a Storage device (eg. such as an EcoVault or another iscsi system) and load the base OS onto an SSD in the host server or
    use a decent LSI hardware RAID card in the server node.

    All virtualisation produces a lot of I/O operations per second, which means a large number of disks, or a suitable cached storage device are key to good performance.

    Having a common storage device allows you to migrate VM's from server to server.

    Look into HyperV on Server 2008 R2 as its cheap for education and comes with loads of features. Using something like Starwind HA Enterprise on some dedicated hardware (it's better value if you use their hardware providers) and a pair of servers with some cheap education server 2008 R2 Enterprise licenses lets you do a whole High Availability clustered offering, meaning any one server can fail and the VM's all keep going - very handy!

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    Domino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattx View Post
    What sort of sized LUNS do you suggest for VMs ? [ I have created 2 so for both 1TB each for data ] and can you share a LUN and have more than one VM running off that LUN ?
    VMware esx 3.5 originally only supported 2TB LUNS VMware KB: ESX does not support 2 terabyte LUN sizes

    I believe this is different in Vsphere 4, but TBH have never had cause to create a server with more than 2TB on a single disk, so we've not tested.

    and yes you can apply more than one server to a LUN and have them accessing individual disk images

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    mattx (2nd December 2010)

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    I'd personally thin provision, so I don't have to worry. LUN size won't really afflict performance, Providing you've got you RAID set up right, block size good and everything aligned with the disk sectors, then job is a good 'un.

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    You generally just need to spec the server for the jobs you need. People are saying lots of RAM, but if you're hosting two servers why do you NEED 64gb RAM? It's a variable and is completely dependant on the jobs you require.

    We bought a G6 - it came with a built in SD card with ESXi on it, so the HDD's are purely for storage of VMs.

    I wouldn't even recommend investing in a SAN setup. If you have scope for one ESXi server then get local storage. If you increase the amount of ESXi servers in the future you can invest in the SAN then and move your local storage accross to it. Buying a SAN for one server to me seems a bit like buying a bakers to feed a budgie.

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    Have i missed some here. I thought schools didn't pay VAT?

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    Agree on the SAN to one server point, although my thoughts were around 2 servers and a Starwind SAN for full failover functionality, maybe a step up from what's looking to be achieved.

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    @FN-GM, Universities pay VAT and can't reclaim it, so I guess same goes for Colleges and Schools?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    Have i missed some here. I thought schools didn't pay VAT?
    Private school - we pay VAT I'm afraid.

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