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single socket ESX host vs dual socket

Posted on 2011-02-11
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi,
We are thinking about using single socket ESX hosts instead of dual sockets to extend our current licensing further, and, also because we have seen that memory (not cpu) resources seems to be the greatest hog in our environment. We are running vSphere 4.1 with 6  dual socket ESX hosts with around 30 VMs on each.  We have seen CPU usage way low so it seems like single core may be the way to go esp to save on licensing costs.

 The single socket servers we are considering deploying would be these:

-HP DL360s with Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor E5530 (2.40GHz, 8M Cache) and
-HP DL380s with Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor X5550 (2.66GHz, 8M Cache)  


Does anyone else have experience doing this?  We've never tried this before.  So I'm not sure if we are overlooking anything.
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Question by:imherson
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 167 total points
ID: 34871298
Memory, always seem to be the bottleneck not CPU, depending upon your environment.

Some of our clients have done the same thing, where they have removed a processor from the socket, to re-deploy that license "for free" to a new One socket server, that way there's been no additional VMware licensing cost for the new purchased single processor server.

- HP DL360s with Quad-Core have been the choice, not need for storage, ESXi 4.1 embedded on usb or sd card, and VMs on a SAN.
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by:bgoering
bgoering earned 167 total points
ID: 34871301
I did that - put in four single socket 6-core IBM servers to replace two antique dual socket HP servers when I did the 4.1 upgrade. (The HP boxes fell off the HCL)

But you should understand that in most cases the single processor boxes only hold half the memory that could be used if both sockets were occupied...
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by:bgoering
ID: 34871321
I guess I should say they were dual socket servers (IBM 3650 M3) equipped with only one processor. Nice thing is it gives a few more options for HA and DRS to work efficiently than the old two node cluster had.
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Expert Comment

by:Brian B
ID: 34871382
Should work fine. That's basically the same hardware we are using.

One lesson I learned is don't buy a server with empty sockets. The cost too add additional processors down the road will be more than a new server.
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 34871776
One thing you may be overlooking, if you're using Windows VMs they you're probably going to use datacentre edition licensing since 6*30 is a lot of standard licenses. Windows Datacentre Edition is only legally licensed on a box with more than 1 CPU.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/licensing-datacenter.aspx
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by:bgoering
ID: 34872405
Good catch andyalder - My one processor cluster is developers only, and they all have MSDN to cover licensing
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by:andyalder
ID: 34872480
It would be worth checking with MS though, it says "You may not run instances of Datacenter on a server with less than two processors" and you're not actually running datacenter, just using the license to cover unlimited VMs.

Oh, and I can't multiply, should be 6*6*30 standard licenses.
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by:bgoering
ID: 34872521
Unless you install a VM with datacenter on it. Wonder what the rules are for that if the vm has two cores that show up as processors.

And how do you get 6*6*30?
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 166 total points
ID: 34872890
6 servers average 30 VMs so 6*30 VMs in total, 6*30 VMs on 6 servers 6*6*30 licenses assuming no vMotion restrictions.

Windows ITpro says you can use datacenter edition on single CPU, but you have to buy two licenses for it, http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/windows-server/Q-Can-I-install-the-datacenter-edition-of-Windows-Server-on-a-machine-with-only-one-physical-processor-.aspx
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Author Comment

by:imherson
ID: 34873068
Good point andyalder.  We have been using datacenter for lic VMs on our servers.
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Author Comment

by:imherson
ID: 34873079
bgoering, what do mean MSDN cover's lic for development?
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by:bgoering
ID: 34874119
As I understand it, so long as EVERYONE has a MSDN license that accesses any particular server, and that the use is to support development, you don't need other licensing.
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by:imherson
ID: 34875451
Thanks guys!
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