Cheapest System that VMware vSphere Hypervisor can run on?

Hi:

[1] I would like to get familiar with VMware vSphere Hypervisor at home and would like to know the cheapest recommended system that one can put together to achieve this?

Maximum Amount of virtual machines I intend to run: 4 in all - (CentOS 5.5; Ubuntu; Windows 7)
Amount of physical Nics: Two

So please give me in your solution: The type of IC; memory; hard drive space; mother-board; graphics card, etc.

[2] If I wanted to upgrade to VMware vSphere later (in order to get support etc.) with the above system, would this be possible?  Note, if you don't know this answer, don't worry.

Thanks
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)Connect With a Mentor VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
A cheap Dual Processor, Dual Core HP Proliant DL385 from eBay, which also supports ESXi embedded support from USB.

or if you want to build yourself a white-box solution

http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/esx40_whitebox_HCL.php

Andrew
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)Connect With a Mentor VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
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coolsport00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
You don't necessarily need a server host. You could download/install VMware Workstation, then install VMware ESX/ESXi as VMs within Workstation.
http://www.vladan.fr/how-to-install-esx-4-inside-vmware-workstaiton-7-video/

What you need is enough resources on your desktop host to accommodate the VMs and the RAM needed. The cost of Workstation is about $189US and you can then evaluate ESX/ESXi/vCenter Server for 60days for free. Your desktop would need to have CPUs that are not only 64bit, but also be VT-compatible (Intel-VT or AMD-V). Minimum RAM I would recommend is 16GB, dual-core CPUs (quad-core if the price difference isn't too great from dual-core), as much GB Disk storage as the desktop can hold. You can look at Dells or HPs....those are good starts, as well as "hancocka's" link for whitebox suggestions. Here are a couple previous EE posts that may also assist in directing you in the route you may wanna go:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Virtualization/Q_25393076.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+10+30+hardwar+lab+recommend+test
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/Q_26347262.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+10+30+lab+recommend+test

Concur with "hancocka"...whatever you end up deciding, hardware-wise, check it against VMware's HCL:
http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php

If you wanted to upgrade your free/eval system to something licensed, sure...you could. Essentials is $495US, but you lose features that the eval/trial gives you (you can reference hypervisor feature differences here: http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/buy/small_business_editions_comparison.html)

Happy testing! :)

~coolsport00
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maytrixConnect With a Mentor Commented:
There are a ton of systems that aren't supported that it will run on.  I had it running on an old desktop at one point for testing.  I've even run it on a laptop.

First bet - if you have any spare systems, try it out - if it runs you can test, although I wouldn't use it for production at all.

I have also found that it runs just fine on a number of Tyan servers.  I've purchased a few through newegg and they are priced very well.  I
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