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Hardware Thread, Server spec out for potential virtualisation project in Technical; ...
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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Wow, the Qnap stuff is very cheap! QNAP TS-859U-RP+/8TB
    That (£2,000-ish) really isn't bad compared with most other ready-made devices. We have a QNAP server here - we initially had a bit of trouble as someone had forgotten to screw the motherboard onto the case, but it seems to be working fine now. From looking at the inside, it does seem to consist of an Atom motherboard with 8 on-board SATA ports running a BSD-based OS - you could make your own (and double the capacity) for half the price.

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    The HP DL360s will be great machines for you, I have them, well the G6's of them and they are excellent bits of kit and fly nicely in my network lots of happy virtual machines and nice and reliable. Each host has 4x 1g ports, one for management, one for storage access and two into the main academic network as a bonded pair and its really performing well for us which is great

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    The spec looks fine I think it will work well.

    A few points.

    No experience with overland here but in my humble experience do not skimp / build your own SAN, especially if you are only going to be using one SAN (single point of failure) - buy a proven vendor one with same or next day warranty and support.

    10GBE is a good idea on your SAN especially if you think you may expand over the next 5 years. Bonded/trunked 1GBE has overheads and caveats with virtualisation software and in really high traffic situations 10GBE will be much better. Saying that I've not come close to satuating the 3 x 1GBE I use on each of my SANS (not bonded).

    Enjoy the benefits of virtuialisation, of which there are many!!! And it does not need to cost a fortune, infact it does not need to cost anything!!! You get 90% of the benefits of virtualisation for free with the free version of ESXi for example, the question I guess is are the other 10% of the benefits (high availability, automatic failover, etc) worth paying thousands upon thousands for. For my school (and personally I believe for most schools), the answer is no.

    Butuz
    Last edited by Butuz; 19th February 2011 at 02:09 AM.

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    I'd love to hear from you if you've played around with RemoteFX - were looking at it here and have got some HP and 10zig thin clients on the way to play with (are going to be running them off my home desktop PC with its 9800GT).
    You might also want to have a look at the D385 - higher core count with the new AMD 8 and 12 core opterons (potentialy 24 cores total) but only one graphics card slot as I understand.

  5. #20

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Home grade graphics cards aren't going to work according to Microsoft - RemoteFX needs a workstation class card like the ones I specced above. Also, HP says that the DL370 G7 is the only rackmount server that will work with RemoteFX and graphics cards at the moment (See here).

    Your clients will need to support RDP 7.5, which is currently only supported by windows 7 based thin clients AFAIK (MS are releasing a new thin version of Windows 7 for assurance customers to replace their 'Windows Fundamentals for Legacy Computers' software, which should allow some thin clients to be updated to work with it).

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    dhicks (19th February 2011)

  7. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Home grade graphics cards aren't going to work according to Microsoft - RemoteFX needs a workstation class card like the ones I specced above. Also, HP says that the DL370 G7 is the only rackmount server that will work with RemoteFX and graphics cards at the moment (See here).

    Your clients will need to support RDP 7.5, which is currently only supported by windows 7 based thin clients AFAIK (MS are releasing a new thin version of Windows 7 for assurance customers to replace their 'Windows Fundamentals for Legacy Computers' software, which should allow some thin clients to be updated to work with it).
    Already had it running on the 9800GT with the Beta RemoteFX works with quite a few cards with varying results but naturaly in a production enviroment itd be nVidia Tesla or FirePro.
    As far as that HP doc goes we've been looking at the Workstation blade servers as our first choice.

  8. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    No experience with overland here but in my humble experience do not skimp / build your own SAN, especially if you are only going to be using one SAN (single point of failure) - buy a proven vendor one with same or next day warranty and support.
    We've been using Overland for about 4 years now, our main storage device for user documents is one of their old ones (when they were part of Adaptec). So, I know their stuff is good from experience.

  9. #23

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    The 380 G7s are a 2u chassis but even when fully loaded with dual Quads and 36Gb they are near on silent running and only seem to have 450w psu's in them which is handy if you need to build a 3 node cluster in a cabinet that happens to live next to your desk....

    The 1u 360's will be fine as long as you dont have to live with the constant hum of the cooling fans in the background all day.

    We hook these up to ReadyNAS 4200's with 10Gbe on SFP+ via a GSM2328S
    The RN's with 12 spindles and 10Gbe is fully certified for VMware and Hyper-V they support MPIO and CSV's
    You could knock out a 3 node Hyper-V cluster with a 10Gbe SAN and still have change out of £12k (OS licenses not included) so if your on a tight budget for your first SAN project you could do a lot worse...

  10. #24

    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    2 x HP DL360 G7 servers with 36GB RAM, 2 x SATA hard disks (cheap and cheerful) - it has 4 1GbE connections also.
    2 x HP DL370 G7 servers with 36GB RAM, 2 x 146GB 15k RPM SAS hard disks, 2 x FirePro V5800 graphics cards, and 4 1GbE connections (for terminal servers, with RemoteFX)
    1 x Overland Storage S1000 with 12 x 300GB SAS drives, and with 4 x 10GbE SFP+ ports
    Couldn't you just stick some more harddrives in those DL360s and save having to buy (and power) a separate storage server? 2TB harddrives are cheap and energy efficient, or maybe nearline SATA drives would offer the best price/capacity/performance. I assume there's a RAID card option for the DL360 (we've just bought a couple of the Dell equivilants, the R510, and I know there's a RAID card option for those). For backup, you could have one DL360 mirror and version the file storage on the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Couldn't you just stick some more harddrives in those DL360s and save having to buy (and power) a separate storage server? 2TB harddrives are cheap and energy efficient, or maybe nearline SATA drives would offer the best price/capacity/performance. I assume there's a RAID card option for the DL360 (we've just bought a couple of the Dell equivilants, the R510, and I know there's a RAID card option for those). For backup, you could have one DL360 mirror and version the file storage on the other.
    You don't seem to be understanding that I want a HA system with centralised storage (quite possibly I'll end up with 2 storage devices, with their built in mirroring set up). I don't want traditional 'storage' on a device, as it makes disaster recovery more difficult. I want centralised storage, per the industry standard model for virtualising servers. If I leave, I don't want to leave behind some custom built, complex to manage system. I want companies able to support their stuff, and I want it to be simple. I don't want to spend time fiddling.

    I want manufacturer warranty support at the server level, not at a component level - ie. I don't want to have to spend time figuring out what is wrong when something breaks, I want to call HP and say 'our server broke, come fix it'.

  12. #26


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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    You don't seem to be understanding that I want a HA system with centralised storage (quite possibly I'll end up with 2 storage devices, with their built in mirroring set up). I don't want traditional 'storage' on a device, as it makes disaster recovery more difficult. I want centralised storage, per the industry standard model for virtualising servers. If I leave, I don't want to leave behind some custom built, complex to manage system. I want companies able to support their stuff, and I want it to be simple. I don't want to spend time fiddling.
    Until you buy 2 SANs with 2 seperate paths for teh data ie 2 switches and the appropriate cabling you arnt going industry standard. dhicks model is actually better in terms of HA as it doesnt rely on any single peice of hardware, and aslong as your servers have enough spare capacity you can bring all of your (critical) systems back up on the single remaining box.

    Saying that, if you arnt comfortable with DRBD then I wouldnt go that way, but I would be looking at some form of backup SAN. If/when the SAN goes down you will look like abit of a tit trying to explain to SMT why your brilliant new idea was crippled by a single faulty RAID card/RAM/etc. Of course this is all dependent on money, and as you are going to be saving money over the long run buying 2 SANs isnt such a bad move... Buiding a cheap backup SAN could be a suitable compromise.

    On that QNAPs SAN you mentioned; no way, not a chance. Its a Atom with 1gb ram and no RAID card. iSCSI likes a nice big cache of RAM, and the software raid is going to hammer your CPU. The Overland looks a much better bet.


    How are you planning on implimenting the file serving on this setup? IME Id be going physical, be that as a totally seperate physical server or directly from the SAN/NAS.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 20th February 2011 at 03:20 PM.

  13. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    I want a HA system with centralised storage
    But couldn't your storage servers run as VMs on a larger bit of hardware? Your servers are heafty enough that you could give a storage VM a dedicated core, a dedicated network port, 4GB of RAM and, of course, assign it its own block device - no need to use a VM disk image that's part of a larger physical disk, the storage server can have a whole RAID 5 array to itself.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky View Post
    if you arnt comfortable with DRBD then I wouldnt go that way
    I'd use DRBD or rsync myself, but shurely Windows Server must have some kind of real-time disk replication option?

  15. #29

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky View Post
    Until you buy 2 SANs with 2 seperate paths for teh data ie 2 switches and the appropriate cabling you arnt going industry standard. dhicks model is actually better in terms of HA as it doesnt rely on any single peice of hardware, and aslong as your servers have enough spare capacity you can bring all of your (critical) systems back up on the single remaining box.

    Saying that, if you arnt comfortable with DRBD then I wouldnt go that way, but I would be looking at some form of backup SAN. If/when the SAN goes down you will look like abit of a tit trying to explain to SMT why your brilliant new idea was crippled by a single faulty RAID card/RAM/etc.

    On that QNAPs SAN you mentioned; no way, not a chance. Its a Atom with 1gb ram and no RAID card. iSCSI likes a nice big cache of RAM, and the software raid is going to hammer your CPU. The Overland looks a much better bet.
    Indeed. I am considering 2 SANs and 2 switches to handle it all. If I'm going to go down this route, I want to do it properly.

    The QNAP stuff would be ideal for a D2D backup solution though.

    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks
    But couldn't your storage servers run as VMs on a larger bit of hardware? Your servers are heafty enough that you could give a storage VM a dedicated core, a dedicated network port, 4GB of RAM and, of course, assign it its own block device - no need to use a VM disk image that's part of a larger physical disk, the storage server can have a whole RAID 5 array to itself.
    True, but as I said, I'm not comfortable doing this, it isn't a 'standard' way of doing it and would make someone coming in to take over, should I leave, scratch their head and ponder what I was doing. I don't want to do 'custom' stuff using DRBD. I want someone to be able to call, say, Overland and say 'my servers aren't replicating properly - fix it'. I live in an area where IT people are few and far between, and where the age of the population is increasing and averages something like 55 now. So, getting someone new would be difficult if they needed too many skills.
    Last edited by localzuk; 20th February 2011 at 03:27 PM.

  16. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    I'd use DRBD or rsync myself, but shurely Windows Server must have some kind of real-time disk replication option?
    Best I know of is share level replication (ie DFS), and that wouldn't really suit.



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