vmware ESXi or XenServer on my HP ProLiant DL380 G4 server?

Just got a used HP Proliant DL380 G4 Dual P4 3.40Ghz today. I am thinking to run virtualizatiion for 4 different function server on the physical host. which one would you recommend?

and what do I have to setup on my physical server? i mean the server got Four (4x) HP 36.4GB Ultra320 15k Hot Swap SCA SCSI HD. Do I need to setup raid or something? or the VM os just load onto single hard drive?
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Well, which "flavor" hypervisor to use is really going to be user-specific, meaning each person has certain likes/dislikes with any given hypervisor. I cannot comment on XenServer personally, but have used VMware products as well as Microsoft. Obviously, my recommendation would be to use ESXi - 1. because it's free, 2. because it's a 'small' OS (32MB or so in size), 3. because it's secure (even SSH isn't enabled by default), and 4. it's stable. Now, with the size of your hard drives, I'm pretty sure you won't have enough storage available for 4 VMs, unless they're *very* small, low I/O type servers (typically, 1 Windows Server is about 20GB). So, assuming you're just using this for something small like testing or you're just a small shop (org), what I recommend you do is get at least 3 bigger drives to create a RAID5 for your VM storage (300GB drives maybe, for expandability), and use your small 36.4GB drives to install your OS (use 2 drives as a RAID1). You could create a 2nd RAID1 for a datastore to be used for VM copies, or maybe 1 or 2 VMs. Lastly, I recommend getting a minimum of 12GB of RAM to cover RAM for your VMs as well as your host.

Hope that helps.


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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
OK. Only one choice with that hardware.  The DL380 G4 does not have Intel VT and therefore will not support XenServer.

Xenserver requirements

CPU: 1.5 GHz minimum, 2 GHz or faster multi-core recommended
Intel® VT or AMD-V™ required for support of Windows guests
Matching CPU family and stepping required for XenMotion live migration
1GB to 128GB physical memory
100Mb/s or faster NIC
Local or Fibre Channel boot disk with 16 GB of space minimum, 60 GB or more recommended

You should be able to install ESXi 4 but you will not be able to install x64 Operating Systems because it does not have Intel VT.

If you want to only deploy x86 VMs ESXi will work, otherwise you'll have to step up to G5 hardware
okamonAuthor Commented:
I will be using this at my home testing lab to run multiple vm servers... exchange, sql, dc...

So you are saying here is:
raid 1 for VM OS, raid 5 for vm storage and I am not sure what do you mean "You could create a 2nd RAID1 for a datastore to be used for VM copies, or maybe 1 or 2 VMs".... the datastore is not part of the vm? I can specify the location?

you don't recommend raid 5 for vm OS?  Is it a standard that always use raid 1 for OS and raid 5 for data? How about for SQL server (in a non visualization environment), use raid 1 for the window 2k3 os and raid 5 for database as well? same apply to other server? DC, File server....

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okamonAuthor Commented:
Thanks paulsolov, but in the download page https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/p/download.php?p=free-esxi&lp=1 
I don't see where I can select 32 bit OS. And what's the difference between x86 and x64 OS? just the performance? And do you think my Intel P4 desktop pc can also run the ESXi server?
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
From memory the DL380 G4 is a 64 bit CPU which means you can install ESXi 4 which is a 64 bit operating system.  The only do wnside is that you will only be able to install 32 bit guest operating systems (virtual machines)
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
For instance, you can do Exchange 2003 but not 2007 or 2010 as an example
okamonAuthor Commented:
But user claim here they can run 64 bit os http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/Q_25041325.html#discussion

And by the way, I have a question above about the raid, you have any idea?
For the ESX hypervisor (OS), performance is not a factor. The hypervisor is only 32MB (ish) in size. Why a RAID1 is because the drives are mirrored. If 1 disk goes bad, your host still runs, and you  can replace the bad drive and not have your host go down. For VM and VM data storage, you want failure recovery as well as performance RAID5 and above covers both.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
The thread states that you can run ESXi  on (vsphre is 64 bit)  64 bit OS but without Intel VT you can't run virtual machines that are 64 bit.
The raid 5 with the 15k's should be fine
okamonAuthor Commented:
thank you guys.
Now, I am on my way to install vmware VMware ESX Server 3i Update 5 on the server. however I didn't see raid 1 there, I only see raid 1+0 , but I am sure there is no raid 1. Does that mean raid 1? And when do I need raid 5? I am still not clear. Since either raid 1 or raid 5 provide redundancy, if any drives goes bad, the server still running, I just need to replace the bad drive right? so I am really not sure which one to choose.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Raid 1+0 is raid 1 in hp world.  During boot up press F8 during boot up into raid controller, erase current array and re-create raid5 if you have 4 drives you should be ok.

Raid 5 you only lose 1 drive for storage.  Raid 1 you lose 1/2 your storage
okamonAuthor Commented:
thanx. regardless space, when it comes to choose between raid 1 and raid 5, how can i make my decision? Since either raid 1 or raid 5 provide redundancy, if any drives goes bad, the server still running, I just need to replace the bad drive right?
"okamon", I *HIGHLY* recommend looking at this link on RAIDs:

You use RAID1 for failure recovery, but where performance isn't a concern (in this case, ESXi hypervisor OS). You run RAID5 for failure recovery AS WELL AS desiring increased performance. You use RAID5 (or 10) for better read/write performance and, when using VMware (ESX), for better performance within VMs that are high I/O (SQL, Exchg, etc.).

Hope that helps. The link above will explain better for you if you have further RAID questions.

okamonAuthor Commented:
Thank you. "You use RAID5 (or 10) for better read/write performance"
I think read 1 has better write performance than raid 5.
After reading some articles regarding raid, I think if the application need more writing, then use raid 1. if require more read, then use raid 5. Do you agree with my concept?
There is another benifit to running in a raid 1 for your first 2 harddrives. Which is where you will install your OS (ESXi in this case)
As the DL380g4 isn't on the HCL (Hardware Compatability List) you can't be assured of the outcome when you apply patches etc..
With the 5 and 6 Series raid controllers in the HP servers they can be used as an unsupported yet effective recovery method.
If it were time to apply patches to your DL380g4 running ESXi 4. You would simply shut down (power off) the server. Split the mirror by removing a hard drive. restart the server. Install your patches.. If everything is OK simply plug the disk back in. If it all goes horribly wrong, Shut the server down (power off) remove the still plugged in disk. Plug in the disk you reviously removed power the server up.. Once past the Raid controller firmware prompts plug the other disk in.. You back to the point before you installed the patches..
It's not supported but does work.. Unfortunatly this method of disk splitting with the newer controllers is  not so simple and a bit tricky but again it can be done..
So raid1 for the first 2 disks put your OS here. Raid 5 for the remainder, put your Guests here..
Performance will be fine for a home or LAB setup..
OH another though.
ESXi3.5 is supported on this hardware. You may want to consider this..
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