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Hardware Thread, Do schools spend more money on back-end ICT than is necessary? in Technical; Originally Posted by Domino Check your expected throughput before buying a MSA2000! Ours COULD NOT COPE with the load, I ...
  1. #16

    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Domino View Post
    Check your expected throughput before buying a MSA2000!

    Ours COULD NOT COPE with the load, I had to immediately replace the controllers with 2312's cause everything was grinding to a halt.
    I ran 30 VM's off one FC! and currently am replacing one ISCSI for a client which runs around 20 servers and 50 Vmware View clients. Which version did you have the FC or ISCSI?

    One thing to mention though - the P2000 is not supported in VMware ESXI 5.0. Hence the reason I am replacing the ISCSI one with a Dell Equallogic.

  2. #17

    Domino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    I ran 30 VM's off one FC! and currently am replacing one ISCSI for a client which runs around 20 servers and 50 Vmware View clients. Which version did you have the FC or ISCSI?

    One thing to mention though - the P2000 is not supported in VMware ESXI 5.0. Hence the reason I am replacing the ISCSI one with a Dell Equallogic.
    The FC - but many more VMs and much much more throughput.

    I don't ask HP for help speccing things anymore... And I'm trying to swing a switch to EMC for the corporate storage now too. Which is *much* better but *much* pricier.

  3. #18

    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Domino View Post
    The FC - but many more VMs and much much more throughput.

    I don't ask HP for help speccing things anymore... And I'm trying to swing a switch to EMC for the corporate storage now too. Which is *much* better but *much* pricier.
    Yeah I can see that struggling. Can't say I have had any issues with them. Although have to say I'm quite impressed with the Equallogics at the moment especially there tie ins with VMware. Just tell it you want a lun it goes away creates it and maps it to all vm hosts in the cluster or just the specified host - saves a lot of hassle!

  4. #19

    m25man's Avatar
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    Pointless Rant!

    The semantics are,
    Availability v Capacity v Recoverability (feel free to add your own but I think these three cover most eventualities)

    From what I see after some 20 years in this sector is that the SLT/SMT have a completely different view on what is needed to those of the techie that has to support it, and to be honest from what I see first hand and read here, many of you are pretty poor at fighting your case against a gang of teaching and management staff that treat you like something they have picked up the sole of their shoe!

    We have also seen an influx of corporate sales bods having a hard time in the commercial sector now turning to the educational cash cow for an easy way to keep up the sales figures by convincing some gullable school staff into buying kit that NASA would like just to run SIMs on!

    It's all about economies of scale, we would all like 24/7/365 with full redundancy and replication whilst managing it all from our villa in the Med, but for crying out loud, this is a recession!

    You buy what is needed to deliver what the management is educated to expect, normally by yourselves!

    We need to put more effort into managing the expectations of the SMT/SLT and they need to understand that limitless technology comes at a price, possibly their jobs!
    For many here, rather than learning how to deploy the latest in VM technology, just learning to say NO! in a way that the SLT will accept without being offended is the answer.

    If you put all of your eggs in one basket or in this case your files on on SAN, it better be the best basket you can afford and if you drop it, it best have the softest of floors to land on!

    For each person that has spent their entire budget on a solution worthy of Glaxo or Shell, there is somebody here that is delivering the same services from a converted tea chest and the contents of a skip.

    And its all down to the economies of scale and time for a reality check!
    Learn to manage people before systems, control expectations then budgets.
    If salesman tells you something that sounds too good to be true it probably is.

    End of Rant!
    Last edited by m25man; 5th July 2012 at 01:21 PM. Reason: spell checked by @domino

  5. 11 Thanks to m25man:

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  6. #20

    Domino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m25man View Post
    Pointless Rant!

    The Symantec's
    *semantics

    </Irony>

  7. Thanks to Domino from:

    m25man (5th July 2012)

  8. #21

    m25man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Domino View Post
    *semantics

    </Irony>
    ;D brainwashing...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Domino View Post
    The FC - but many more VMs and much much more throughput.

    I don't ask HP for help speccing things anymore... And I'm trying to swing a switch to EMC for the corporate storage now too. Which is *much* better but *much* pricier.
    EMC storage is very very nice. But not without its quirks either . I did like when EMC specced something for me, delivered it, came to install it then realised they'd specced a size of drive they didn't support in the device they were configuring. Mind you when it was running it was pretty damm fast

  10. #23

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    I look after a number of primaries. Typically they have 1 server. The largest school has 500 pupils. The single server runs AD, DHCP, Sims, FMS, printers, VPN, WSUS etc. So based on you pupil numbers that would be 2 servers. if you needed redundancy why not chuck in a BDC. That is 3 servers. Just pointing out what you can do if you have no money.

  11. #24
    AButters's Avatar
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    The simple answer to "Do schools spend more money on back-end ICT than is necessary?" is: Yes. Particualrly in England.

    The OP could go for a 2 host and 2 san setup and spend under £20k and would not notice any reduction in performance or reliability.

  12. #25

    m25man's Avatar
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    2 x 12Tb SANs with full dedupe and replication across WAN will be available less than £16k for SATA with SAS and SSD options ReadyDATA 5200 - YouTube
    Still a lot of money for a school that cant afford to fix it's roof though!

  13. #26

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    thanks for all the feedback! Lots to think about and many differing views in an area I have been left behind in for a while (Server Virtualisation and - in fact - server and SAN hardware in general) and will definately give us something to work on over the summer break!

    My initial thoughts are:

    • 60k is way too much (already knew this)!
    • I should be able to get a decent virtualised system and SAN for under the 30k mark! I am hoping to find a solution which offers a five year warranty for this kind of price as it will be much easier to sell to SLT as a ~6k yearly cost

    .

    A couple of things I would like clearing up if possible:

    • I mention in my initial post about NAS vs SAN but nobody has really commented on it rather than to say go for SAN. Why is this? Surely we could get a fully duplicated NAS solution far FAR cheaper... is that not something people have looked at?
    • How do people select and work out processor requirements when looking at virtualisation beyond looking at the number of cores?


    Final question (for now). I have calculated the amount of RAM needed on our server infrastructure (in total) as this:

    File Servers 4gb (x3 12gb)
    Exchange 16gb
    SIMs 16gb
    Webserver 8gb
    Print Server 4gb
    WDS 4gb
    LCS 4gb
    Cashless Catering 4gb

    Total (approx 68gb)

    Does this seem about right? Would I be looking at getting around this amount (75-100gb) on one server or both for complete failover??? Also, would we be best putting things like Print Server/Webserver/WDS etc. on one server or their own virtualised servers??? Seems to be a huge RAM overhead for something which one VM could handle. Some goes for file-servers really.

    Cheers for all the advice so far and any more to come...

  14. #27


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    Quote Originally Posted by CyBeRkId2002 View Post

    File Servers 4gb (x3 12gb)
    Webserver 8gb
    Print Server 4gb
    We serve files for 2000 users on 1GB Ram without excessive swapping.
    You could run all these machines on Linux and cut a huge percentage from your system requirement and licensing bill.
    I'd also outsource the exchange to the web too.

  15. #28
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    £30k will give you all you need with money to spare, even more so if you don't mind Hyper-V. RAM is fairly cheap these days so you can add room for expansion without breaking the bank.

    The price shoots up when you add a 2nd replicated SAN, in an ideal world cloud hosted replication \ backups would cover this role but it's an area that really hasn't sorted itself out cost-wise as yet. For us Veeam provides an acceptable compromise.

    One thing you will need to do is play the game with manufacturers and suppliers, make the most of educational bid pricing, special offers and the competitive market to drive your quotes down... amazing how much margin there is in this stuff once you get going!
    Last edited by gshaw; 5th July 2012 at 04:31 PM.

  16. #29

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    Two thoughts:
    Could you not give the individual companies that supplied the parts (SAN, Hosts, management tools etc) a call and see if you can negotiate extended warranties and support directly? If the kit is still no where near its capacity then it is quite acceptable to sweat it some more, while you soften up management to the price tag for its replacement (look - spec well initially and get 6-10 yrs out of it!)


    If that isn't a go-er or the solution running on that hardware is something you feel is holding your school back, then try giving Viglen a call. They solved this exact problem for me at the price point you expect with the configuration you are looking for.

    They did a lot of work on this to get onto the BECTA (now DfE) ICT Services Framework. You just want one of their out of the box solutions, probably with a partially managed services element on the core services e.g. SAN config, VM infrastructure and Fileserver, add others up to the point you can afford, but do most of the finer windows config yourself. Make sure that you include maintenance contracts for the various component parts they provide - often hotfixes from the vendors are the solution to irritations. ("that's fixed in version 6.0.2.23, 4.0.109.23 is really old now - can you upgrade? It will definately fix the problem you are having.")

    On the RAM overhead: each box needs enough ram to support the full set of servers if one of your two proposed hosts fails. I believe that you can over commit by making use of the Balloon driver - but I've not tried (why mess with something that is working?) My physical hosts have 48GB, so my total VM requirements is tuned to 24GB per physical host. Same size site a you.

    One of the design criteria we had was that I didn't want me or my team to be having to constantly be messing around on the servers - they just needed to go in, get configured and then work, so that we could spend our time focusing on directly supporting the users. The VM/SAN enviroment has certainly enabled this. Perhaps we could have delivered the same initial services for 10-15k less, but as the services evolved more and more time would have to be spend adding and maintaining physical hosts, piling on additional services onto initially well behaved servers and generally pushing them to past their limits and without an pre-existing strong change control ethic in the team that would have lead to down time and reduced front line support time. Now if we need a new service/VM we can either did through our handover notes and give it a go, or call down on pre-paid engineer time from Viglen to spin up a new serer. Easily worth the 10-15K in a single year alone!

    Though I must say that I am quite envious of glennda's solution, I think ours might be able to do that too with a major firmware update on the san and the latest vSphere - but I'm in no hurry to mess with that.
    Last edited by psydii; 5th July 2012 at 06:14 PM.

  17. #30

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    SAN vs NAS : I think NAS works on SMB level and Hyper-V r2 requires storage to be locally mounted (someone correct me if Im wrong though) Hyper-V r3 might be a game changer with this. But if you are using NAS as a replicating fileserver, then I think that's fine.

    Price wise HP is still doing 50 percent cash back on SANs and cash back on 2nd processor if you buy double the RAM (up to 5 server on one invoice) shop around, its a pain but could save you money.

    I managed to quote for

    2 lots of DL380 g7 with dual Xeon 5620, 64gb+ Ram, 2x146gb 15k SAS, dual SAS 6gb HBAs, 10gb NIC
    MSA P2000 G3 6gb SAS SAN, 12 x 600gb 10k SAS
    SFP cables and SAS cables

    Just over £13500 for the lot after cashback.

    But boy make sure you budget for SFP and SAS cables, I could buy another DL380 with the prices of all the interconnects lol!

    I do agree the OP about the backoffice end. User perception wise they do not much care for how many replicated SANS and how good your failover are while they couldn't even get an interactive whiteboard or a new bulb for their projectors...(god school budgets are as complicated and sectioned as in corporate!). We luckily had some money left in this year and will be replacing a lot of the PCs with SSDs and Windows 7, which should, with the new upgrades in the server room, give the kids and teachers a little boost when they return September time.
    Last edited by MrWu; 5th July 2012 at 07:08 PM.

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