VM Hardware and costs...your thoughts

Posted on 2012-08-29
Last Modified: 2012-09-07
I've been testing VMWare and Hyper-V scenarios for awhile now and it's always been on a server, mainly power edge with RAID-5, 12G+ memory, Xeon Intel processors which is nice. I've also tested using a workstation running WIN7 Pro, 6G (DDR2 - slower memory) with a Xeon processor (six year old workstation) which does well but sometimes runs into limitations. So I have a range of 6 year workstation to current powerful PowerEdge server so my question is this. My first thought was run out and buy a $3000 or better PowerEdge Server, RAID-5, 12G memory, Xeon processor or second, and the main part of this thread is what is a good system EE recommneds for testing VM environments? The system I'm looking at now has an Intel I7, 3.5Ghz, 3770 CPU, 16G DDR3 memory, Western Digital Black 1T 7200rpm drive for around $1k. This box will do nothing but test VMWare and Hyper-V, anyone recommend a better hardware platform when it comes to testing VM environments, I want to keep costs down while experiencing the best VM experience as possible however I don't care to be cheap just for the sake of saving money (hope this makes sense), I don't want to spend $3-4K just for the sake of it if it's not really needed and I don't want to go less expensive route and run into limitations.

EE's thoughts?
Question by:WORKS2011
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    We purchase headless servers (no disks) for VMware, and limited storage for Hyper-V servers, because we spend all the money on homebrew SANs with SATA disks and SSDs and access via NFS and iSCSI, so you can build clusters, and test vMotion,  Live Migration, HA, FT etc
    LVL 17

    Author Comment

    Thanks hanccocka, I know there's allot of options guess the main point of this thread is to have a single box packing the most punch for vm environments, I could connect it to other devices along the way as an option but at this stage looking to keep a single box solution...if know how these things Thanks for the response.
    LVL 116

    Accepted Solution

    if you have a single box you are limited, in your cannot do clustering.

    Find a Workstation motherboard, that you can pack 32GB of Memory, Memory is often the bottleneck not CPU. Any Quad or Six Core CPU will be ample.

    Single 7200rpm disks are slow. You would benefit by using SSDs, just for the OS.

    Hyper-V will function on most desktops, but ESXi is more fussy, and limited by hardware, because there are less drivers in the smaller foot print OS.
    LVL 9

    Assisted Solution

    I started the same journey a few years ago and started with 2 home-built workstations with Intel i5 and 16 GB RAM, running on USB sticks (VMWare) and enterprise-class single hard-disks (WD RE4). Plus, I added 2 quad-port Intel nics, just so I had plenty of ports to lab/simulate a larger environment. Worked fine for around 10 VM's, although a little slow of course because of disk speeds.

    Later I upgraded to 32 GB RAM for each box and bought a QNAP 5-disk NAS box, adding shared storage to play with, which you need if you want to add all the nice features of clustering, HA, VMotion etc. And I used the existing WD harddrives into the NAS, so the servers are diskless, only a USB stick to hold the ESXi image. Since Hyper-V can't be installed on a USB stick (as far as I know), a simple SATA disk will do fine, as long as the VM's are located on a NAS box.

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