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    Been given £8000 to spend, need help on choosing server equipment

    I've been given £8000 to spend before the end of April and im thinknig of using 3k for one project of new pc's and the remaining 5k on buying some new server equipment and looking into virtualisation. This will be the first time ive looked to buy any servers and looked into server virtualisation.

    Firstly what spec server should i be looking at in order to start running virtual servers?

    We have some Dell Poweredge 1955 Blade servers and was curious whether these were up to the job of virtualising and if not, i imagine a newer spec Blade server from Dell will slide in just fine, but would say a HP Blade server work too?

    Any help would be great as we have 12 servers currently so advice on how many physical servers we would need and best practice in undertaking a big job like this would be great.

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Depending on the roles, a single server could virtualise all of yours, though I wouldn't recommend going entirely virtual or that dependent on one machine. For spec - your licencing model for the host is important. Have you chosen a hypervisor (VMWare, Xen, Hyper-V)? Lots of planning and preparation is critical for a shift like this, but it doesn't have to be painful!

    For spec - RAM! Plenty of processing cores (though ESXi free only allows one socket), and an iSCSI SAN or fast RAID array.

    I virtualised four servers, with a view to further future capacity. I bought an HP ML380 (AMD quad core), upgraded to 12GB of RAM, used an internal RAID 5 SAS array of discs for the VMs. It's a great machine, but there are many other more highly recommended setups out there.

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    lab
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    Virtualising 12 servers is going to be tough with £8k, but not impossible...

    You'll need a minimum of 3 bare metal hypervisors (with as many CPU cores and RAM you can squeeze), and a storage array. I'm not sure if a blade array is you best bet - typically seen them used for rolling out desktop virtualisation, but wouldn't totally exclude them in your early investigations.

    If you are users are doing heavy I/O workload over the network (such as Garageband to network home folders or rendering video or 3D graphics) the you are best to use a fibrechannel SAN (which will frazzle your budget!). Otherwise a good iSCSI NAS device would fit.

    As for the virtualisation - VMware VSphere with VMotion etc would be ideal but check the hardware compatibility carefully and the licensing options for Edu - the cost could stack up... I have had very promising results recently with a test lab running Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud - and it's fully EC2 compatible which means you can expand onto Amazon's cloud, if and when required.

    So to conclude, you could set up a virtual infrastructure for your 12 servers within your budget but it would be tight and it come will come down to how much you are willing to take on yourself v's paying the appropriate £s to others in order to have the security of their support.

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    featured_spectre's Avatar
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    Each machine should be a baseline of the following spec (You can get each for £2.5k)

    Dual Hexacore
    16GB RAM
    2TB HDD space
    2x Quad Port NIC
    Windows Server Enterprise (on each)

    Hyper-V would be essential

    As for support, not too sure on those costs, but a server to that spec will cost around £2.5K

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    lab
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    I think this thread is starting to demonstrate that you can achieve server virtualisation in many different ways - depends on your IT 'religion' and so the path you wish to follow!

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    Thanks so far for the help, i should have said that we already have a fibre SAN.

    As for software, i know of them all but not really sure on what is regarded as the best. I was going to put server 2008 on all servers (currently on 2003) so was thinking of Hyper-V.

    At the moment we have 12 servers but some of them do very little in terms of usage so thats why im unsure of how many physical servers we would need.

    Im just a little unsure on taking on what appears to be a big job which both me and my other technician have no real experience with, so in short i dont wanna f#ck the whole network when doing it.

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    lab
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    Considering this I'd wait... At least until you have the time to properly scope and price the project and plucked up the courage to take it on;-)
    All the best

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by farquea View Post
    I've been given £8000 to spend before the end of April...
    Lucky s*d!

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    Why not buy 2 (or even just 1) decent spec server, wack xen or esxi on it, and use the "physical to virtual" software to turn your current servers into VMs. Then remove the virtual server host(s) from your main network and have a play. That way you can learn, you already have some hardware for when/if you decide to move over, and there is no disruption to the network.



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