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ESX 4 Hardware Choice DELL 1855 Blades or IBM HS20 Blades?

At the moment i have a DL385 G2 but it can't handle all my VMs. I would also like to move my Domain Controller and vSphere server out of the virtualized environment (or possibly have a separate live/lab).

I have seen these 2 auctions which i'm considering:

DELL 1855 Blades (x10) w/ Chasis Enclosure http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=380236876535&ssPageName=ADME:X:eRTM:US:1123#ht_3228wt_1139
IBM HS20 Blades (x14) w/ Chasis Enclosure http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=380236916146&ssPageName=ADME:X:AAQ:US:1123#ht_4423wt_1139

I have a feeling both are 64bit but neither have the virtualization technology required to run 64bit guest o/s. Am i correct?

I think the Dell chasis may be capable of holding 1955 blades so upgrading a few in the future might be an option?

Would you recommend a blade solution for ESX? It seems to be a lot cheaper than separate rackmount servers (and hopefully less noise/power/space required).

Thanks
L
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Distinguished Expert 2019
Commented:
You have to ask yourself why the previous owners of those systems are chucking them out - they're virtually giving them away. It's most likely that they are redundant because the jobs those blades did before has been virtualized. Take the LS20 for example, it can only handle 16GB RAM, fine for a few VMs but won't support many, maybe three or four. Now you're going to get 10 of them which will handle say 40 VMs but then you've got to buy 20 VMware licenses, and that's not going to be cheap.

On the power subject blades use less than rackmount servers but you're only going to need a couple of modern rackmount servers to replace those 10 blades so the blade solution is going to use a lot more power. And it's going to be a lot noisier than a couple of 2U servers. If noise is a concern and they're running in an office environment then get an acoustic rack or use tower servers in rackmount arrangement. http://www.kellsystems.co.uk have some nice office racks.

2U and larger raqckmount servers also have the edge over blades for virtualizing because they have more I/O available for networking etc.

Commented:
So do you think i'd be better off going for a older/cheaper rack server for my domain controller/vCenter server (say maybe a proliant g4 or dell pe 2850) then just 2 new more powerfull rack servers for the ESX machines? Proliant G5 or DELL 2950 maybe? I can start with 8gb or so in each and probably no disks as i'll be storing them on the SAN then add ram over time?

I think i'm struggling to get over the fact that i can get so much more combined processing power/ram/disk etc from a blade enclosure for so much less money. I'll post some prices up later- but i'd guess the blade is coming in at £2500. The old + 2 new servers will come in maybe £3000

Thanks
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
I'd buy a pair of G6s rather than G5s (or equivalent) - Nehalem CPUs are twice as fast as the older CPUs, don't go by the clock speed, look at VMmark results. See the jump from 2008 to 2009 under the 8 core machines at the bottom of http://www.vmware.com/products/vmmark/results.html - that's when nehalem Intel CPU based machines came out.

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Commented:
I think the G6s are out of my price range.
Commented:
We use the LS20's in our production servers (non vmware), as well as a few G1's for our VMware. Here are a couple things to note:

#1)The opteron 200 series processors used in these do not support AMD-V:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AMD_Opteron_microprocessors#Opteron_200-series_.22Italy.22_.28E6.2C_90_nm.29

They will run 64-bit, however AMD-v is  important when running several guests on a host. It allows the Hypervisor to have direct access to memory mapping.

#2) The LS20's are not certified by IBM for ESXi 4.0, which may be a problem. View their serverproven list here
http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/info/x86servers/serverproven/compat/us/nos/vmwareeold.html
http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/info/x86servers/serverproven/compat/us/nos/vmwaree.html

A quick search of message boards showed people having trouble installing ESX 4 on these machines. Doesn't mean you wont get it to work, but I would be very cautions.

From personal experience we have been unable to get Windows 2008 up and running on these boxes.

Not sure of your budget but for $4k you might have better luck and even better performance with two large 2x 4core boxes using newer processors which will support more RAM




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Commented:
I ended up going with 2x DELL 2950 (Both have 2x Quad Core 2.5Ghz & 16Gb ram, DRAC & Rails) and came in at £1150+VAT each

Thanks for your help!

L

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Commented:
Thanks