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  1. Senior Member
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    #1

    Wink 1st Virtualization Server. Suggest Specs

    Hello all,

    I've been planning the deployment of a virtualize server for the company I work for, all and all I have chosen the following solution:

    Vmware Vsphere Advanced --> its got everything we need, and more which is good...

    But its the hardware where hesitations have arised for me...

    This is what Im getting from dell

    Power Vault R710
    72GB Memory (18x4GB), 800MHz Dual Ranked RDIMMs for 2 Processors, Optimized
    2 x E5520 Xeon Processor, 2.26GHz 8M Cache, Turbo, HT, 1066MHz Max Mem
    4 x 1TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hot Plug Hard Drive (341-8730) in Raid 5 For the VMs
    2 x 160GB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hot Plug Hard Drive in Raid 1 for the OS ESXi
    Network Cards
    Intel PRO 1000PT 1GbE Dual Port NIC, PCIe-4
    Embedded Broadcom, GB Ethernet NICS with TOE

    This server will be hosting the following VMS
    1 Windows 2003 Standard for Active Directory (+DNS and DHCP), Printing Server, WSUS, Nod32 Server
    1 Windows 2003 or 2008 web edition with SQL server 2005 express for IIS
    3 Oracle Linux or CentOS with 4 Oracle Databases each
    1 Subversion Server for corporate files and program sources, and projects...
    1 File Server
    1 Testing Web Server for applications.

    Databases are not big, biggest one is about 40GB

    The amount of Ram worries me Cuz I think im getting more that I need, and the network cards I might need another 4 port card...

    Suggestions are welcome for the server hardware.

    Thank you all, and sorry for the long post!
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    #2
    You do seem to have a lot of memory and depending on usage patterns of the servers, you may want more NICs.

    I'd be more worried about IO however. RAID5 only gives you good performance if you have a large number of spindles. Only having 4 will mean the performance won't be that great. You've got several databases which unless they're rarely used, will cause some IO contention issues.

    Is there any high levels of IO for any of the servers you're trying to virtualize? How much RAM is in each of the servers you've listed?

    Any of them mission critical servers? You're throwing everything into 1 big server which if it fails will take out everything. Same for the RAID5 array, I assume it'd be 3 data and 1 parity with 0 spares?
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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by tiersten View Post
    RAID5 only gives you good performance if you have a large number of spindles.
    What the minimum recommended number of spindles recommended for a high performance RAID 5 server? Eight? More? And would using higher-performing disks allow the use of fewer spindles without decreasing RAID 5 performance?

    I need to know if I need to buy an 8-drive expansion cage and extra drives for a DL380 G6 server if eight (15K SAS) drives is still too few for a high-performance RAID 5 operation.
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  5. Self-Described Huguenot blargoe's Avatar
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    #4
    Don't worry about too much memory, memory is cheap and reducing it won't make that model of server much cheaper. Last dell server I speced out didn't get ridiculous with higher costs for added memory until I got past 96GB.

    I'd be concerned about IO, but really the best option I think you'd have is to go with external storage. How many disk slots does the R710 have? 8 I think? If you can't do external storage, load this puppy up with 8 disks even if you have to go with the next size down of disks. You don't really need the separate raid volume for ESXi, IMO. It creates its own separate partitions on whatever volume you choose and the footprint is very small. You could make a single Raid5 with 8 disks, or two Raid5's with 4 disks, or a Raid5 with 4 disks and a Raid1_0 with 4 disks for your databases....

    Really, it depends on how heavily these guys are written to currently as to what you do for your storage configuration, and in addition how much you expect this ESXi environment to grow.
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    #5
    I'm just chiming in with an I/O concern as well...

    Why has already been said much more eloquently by other members already.
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    #6
    Umm I was not foreseeing the I/O problem... this databases tend to be highly active... but our current infrastructure is kind of inadequate, so I think any change would render better performance...

    Still I would really need some advice on the Hard drive arrange to get better IO performance...

    Our server infrastructure currently is like this:

    1 Win XP Database Server/Workstation with 2 GB on RAM and intel Xeon 2Ghz which holds all 8 databases which we use for all areas, development, quality testing, and support.

    1 Windows 2003 Active Directory Standard, File server, printing server, IIS, WSUS, another database with 3.5GB Ram and Intel Xeon 5310, 3 iscsi hard drives

    1 Windows XP with 1 GB of RAM and pentium 4@2.4Ghz holding another 4 DBs for testing just in case the first DB server/workstation is busy.

    1 Ubuntu File server, with 4 GB of ram with pentium 4@2.8 Ghz.

    1 Ubuntu Web Server with apache tomcat in it, this server we test the web applications it has an Intel Xeon @2.66 Ghz and 2Gb of Ram.

    1 CVS sunOS 5.10 with 4 GB of ram and dont know the processor speed...

    1 Linux RHE with 4 gb of RAM and a Quad core Q6600 @ 2.2 Ghz
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    #7
    The is indeed a lack of redundancy in the case of hardware failure for this server... umm with the price of this puppy and the license cost of the VMware Advanced license (per processor so that means Ill have to buy 2 licencse) Im already over the budget... what can I do to add redundancy without adding too much $$$ to the server... Im guessing Ill have to sacrifice some free space... By my calculations the space needed to virtualize all of our servers is about 2.3 TB...
    Last edited by maumercado; 08-27-2009 at 05:14 PM.
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  9. Drops by now and again astorrs's Avatar
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by maumercado View Post
    The is indeed a lack of redundancy in the case of hardware failure for this server... umm with the price of this puppy and the license cost of the VMware Advanced license (per processor so that means Ill have to buy 2 licencse) Im already over the budget... what can I do to add redundancy without adding too much $$$ to the server... Im guessing Ill have to sacrifice some free space... By my calculations the space needed to virtualize all of our servers is about 2.3 TB...
    1st off why are you looking at vSphere Advanced? All the features above basic require shared storage (except DP, but just buy Veeam you'll be happier anyway). I would pickup the Essentials bundle - heck you could be all in with vCenter and Veeam's full suite for ~$3k total and adding an additional 2 servers would be FREE.

    HW Specifications

    - the existing servers you listed consume ~20GB of RAM so drop the RAM in the server to 36GB and you've got tons of room to grow (especially with ESX's memory management techniques like TPS).

    - you list 6 x 1Gbps NICs that should be more than sufficient (don't forget in this case all interVM traffic never leaves the hosts memory). 4 pNICs for the VMs and 2 pNICs for management, etc.

    - The R710 is limited to 6 x 3.5" drives. blargoe is right in that there is absolutely no need to have separate disks for ESXi so we can pool them all in together.

    6 x 1TB SATA drives in RAID-5 is going to give you only around ~480 IOPS on reads but only ~120 on writes (equivalent to 1.5 disks); whereas the same number of 15k SAS drives in RAID5 would deliver around ~1080 read and ~270 write; unfortunately the largest SAS drive (ignore the "near-line" ones they won't help) is 450GB which would only yield slightly over 2TB of usable space which is below your requirements of 2.3TB. Alternatively those same 6 x 1TB SATA disks in RAID10 would yield ~2.8TB and read/write IOPS of ~480/240 respectively.

    With that in mind how much of that 2.3TB is in use vs. allocated today? Perhaps thin provisioning and the like can help.
    Last edited by astorrs; 08-27-2009 at 06:50 PM.
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  10. Drops by now and again astorrs's Avatar
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by blargoe View Post
    Don't worry about too much memory, memory is cheap and reducing it won't make that model of server much cheaper.
    I can't agree with you there, there is such a thing as just throwing money away which it sounds like they'd be doing here (more than 3x their current environment's memory footprint - and don't forget about TPS, balooning, etc).

    Quote Originally Posted by JDMurray View Post
    What the minimum recommended number of spindles recommended for a high performance RAID 5 server? Eight? More? And would using higher-performing disks allow the use of fewer spindles without decreasing RAID 5 performance?
    "It depends"

    No seriously it does, all storage requirements are based on 2 factors (beyond capacity): performance and availability. Each RAID level offers a different level of availability but each also has a different performance profile. Have a look at my other reply and you can see where I'm going with this.
    Last edited by astorrs; 08-27-2009 at 11:54 PM.
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by astorrs View Post
    the existing servers you listed consume ~20GB of RAM so drop the RAM in the server to 36GB and you've got tons of room to grow (especially with ESX's memory management techniques like TPS).
    Yes, that would be for the current servers, once I get the server I would do the following or at least presume to do the following:
    1 Windows 2003 Standard for Active Directory (+DNS and DHCP), Printing Server, WSUS, Nod32 Server → 3,5GB RAM
    1 Windows 2003 or 2008 web edition with SQL server 2005 express for IIS –> 3GB RAM
    3 Oracle Linux or CentOS with 4 Oracle Databases each → 3GB RAM EACH
    1 Subversion Server for corporate files and program sources, and projects → 4GB RAM
    1 File Server → 4GB RAM
    1 Testing Web Server for applications. –> 3 GB RAM

    For a total of ~28 gb so maybe 48 would be good for future new servers to be available...

    Quote Originally Posted by astorrs View Post
    - The R710 is limited to 6 x 3.5" drives. blargoe is right in that there is absolutely no need to have separate disks for ESXi so we can pool them all in together.

    6 x 1TB SATA drives in RAID-5 is going to give you only around ~480 IOPS on reads but only ~120 on writes (equivalent to 1.5 disks); whereas the same number of 15k SAS drives in RAID5 would deliver around ~1080 read and ~270 write; unfortunately the largest SAS drive (ignore the "near-line" ones they won't help) is 450GB which would only yield slightly over 2TB of usable space which is below your requirements of 2.3TB. Alternatively those same 6 x 1TB SATA disks in RAID10 would yield ~2.8TB and read/write IOPS of ~480/240 respectively.

    With that in mind how much of that 2.3TB is in use vs. allocated today? Perhaps thin provisioning and the like can help.
    Actual footprint of space used is about 1,4 with 1 database server, since Im going to add 2 Db servers well take about 2 TB of space so the 2,3 or 2,8 free with the 6 TB in RAID 10 arrangement should be enough to hold new Vms right?

    Umm I have no familiarity with Thin Provisioning...


    Quote Originally Posted by astorrs View Post
    1st off why are you looking at vSphere Advanced? All the features above basic require shared storage (except DP, but just buy Veeam you'll be happier anyway). I would pickup the Essentials bundle - heck you could be all in with vCenter and Veeam's full suite for ~$3k total and adding an additional 2 servers would be FREE.
    Hmm... Better check veems full suite... hows the license scheme with veeams?... because since Im getting a server with 2 physical processor I would be needing 2 vmware vsphere licences no matter what product (advanced, standard, essentials... etc) where can I get a comparison between these 2 virtual machines management software?
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  12. Drops by now and again astorrs's Avatar
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by maumercado View Post
    Yes, that would be for the current servers, once I get the server I would do the following or at least presume to do the following:
    ...
    3 Oracle Linux or CentOS with 4 Oracle Databases each → 3GB RAM EACH
    ...

    Actual footprint of space used is about 1,4 with 1 database server, since Im going to add 2 Db servers well take about 2 TB of space
    Why 3? And why will the data instantly grow by 600GB? Are they copies of the same databases or what's the reason for adding them?

    Quote Originally Posted by maumercado View Post
    For a total of ~28 gb so maybe 48 would be good for future new servers to be available...
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by maumercado View Post
    Hmm... Better check veems full suite... hows the license scheme with veeams?... because since Im getting a server with 2 physical processor I would be needing 2 vmware vsphere licences no matter what product (advanced, standard, essentials... etc) where can I get a comparison between these 2 virtual machines management software?
    I'll expand on this in a minute.
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by astorrs View Post
    Why 3? And why will the data instantly grow by 600GB? Are they copies of the same databases or what's the reason for adding them?
    Because since the company is a software developer, developers some times require to do some processes with the databases including data changes and stuff which sometimes render the DBs useless, so I want to isolate the database for testing from the one to provide support, also because sometimes the developers process can be really resource consuming processes denying access to the support area...

    And the third is to provide the guys at Quality testing with and isolated DBs to do well testing.

    And no theyre not copies of the same databases... at least support most have databases that replicate the conditions of customers... developers well they have the latest so theyre alwas doing changes and quality testing have the soon to be released version ...
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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by maumercado View Post
    Hmm... Better check veems full suite... hows the license scheme with veeams?... because since Im getting a server with 2 physical processor I would be needing 2 vmware vsphere licences no matter what product (advanced, standard, essentials... etc) where can I get a comparison between these 2 virtual machines management software?
    With the release of vSphere 4, VMware has made available a couple of bundles targeted at the small business market. One of those is called “VMware vSphere 4 Essentials” and includes the features of vSphere Standard excluding High Availability and Thin Provisioning – BUT – it also includes a license for vCenter Server for Essentials (can do everything the full version can except for vCenter Orchestrator and vCenter Linked Mode, both of which are targeted at much larger environments).

    VMware vCenter which allows you to use virtual machine templates and provides a more powerful management environment (including scripting/automation support, etc) than ESXi alone can do. The bundle is priced at $995 and includes 1 year of software upgrades – but that’s not per processor socket – instead it covers 3 ESX/ESXi hosts with up to 2 physical sockets each (6 sockets total).



    While you could upgrade to the Essentials Plus bundle which includes VMware Data Protector (their backup tool) and High Availability (no use to you since you don’t have shared storage or more than one host), but I think there is a much better option.

    Veeam one of VMware’s key partners has a bundle called Veeam Essentials also targeted at small businesses and only available to those who purchase a VMware Essentials bundle. It consists of Veeam Backup and Replication (which is quite frankly “awesome”), Veeam Reporter and Veeam Monitor. It is also licensed in the same 6 socket bundle (3 ESX/ESXi hosts with up to 2 physical sockets each) and priced at $2194 including 1 year of maintenance and free product upgrades.



    So by combining those two bundles for $3189 (including 1st year support) you can meet your immediate needs for less money (both upfront and in annual maintenance), while leaving yourself room to expand later if the need arises (say you want to add a second host plus an NFS or iSCSI storage array).

    One other thing to consider that I didn’t address previously, you have a handful of Microsoft Windows Server licenses listed there, can you verify if those are OEM licenses (usually bundled with the server at a reduced cost)? If so, they will need to be replaced as OEM licenses are not transferable between machines – virtual or physical).
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by maumercado View Post
    Because since the company is a software developer, developers some times require to do some processes with the databases including data changes and stuff which sometimes render the DBs useless, so I want to isolate the database for testing from the one to provide support, also because sometimes the developers process can be really resource consuming processes denying access to the support area...

    And the third is to provide the guys at Quality testing with and isolated DBs to do well testing.

    And no theyre not copies of the same databases... at least support most have databases that replicate the conditions of customers... developers well they have the latest so theyre alwas doing changes and quality testing have the soon to be released version ...
    Okay I figured it was something like that. In that case I would create a single RAID10 logical drive with all 6x 1TB SATA disks as previously described. Note that within ESXi (ignore ESX as it is going away and you might as well learn how to do it the ESXi way from the start) you will need to create 2x VMFS datastores as they cannot exceed 2TB; placement of the actual VMs is up to you - since both datastores will reside on the same physical disks you don't have to worry about distributing the load in any way, just make the best use of the available space.
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    #15
    Awesome information, Ill definitely will go for the Veeam Essentials + VMWare essentials bundle, I have been reviewing the scope and capacities of the backup tool and it does seem amazing...

    Thank you astorrs, and thank you all who took their time to help me figure this thing out...

    Heck bosses will be happier to know that I will be keeping to the budget... and even go below it...

    This community is the rulz!
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    I'll get lynched for suggesting it, but since its a standalone server why not go with Hyper-V R2 to save some cash?
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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyper-Me View Post
    I'll get lynched for suggesting it, but since its a standalone server why not go with Hyper-V R2 to save some cash?
    Not having used VMWare products in much depth, I would agree with Hyper-Me just based off our experiences with Hyper-V in our shop. We started out with a couple servers running Hyper-V Server 2008 (baremetal) and were very happy with the results. We are now looking at replacing several servers with Server 08 R2 to utilize Live Migration into the mix as we begin to virtualize more mission critical systems rather than the not so critical services we had running on the baremetal Hyper-V boxes.

    I'm sure VMWare is a great product, but when we quoted it out for our needs it wasn't the most economical solution. I would actually have preferred to go with a VMWare solution since I'm sure it would have included the training class so I could sit the VCP exam but our organization is in real estate and at this point in time we have to be very budget minded given the economic situation.
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  19. Drops by now and again astorrs's Avatar
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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyper-Me View Post
    I'll get lynched for suggesting it, but since its a standalone server why not go with Hyper-V R2 to save some cash?
    Quote Originally Posted by msteinhilber View Post
    Not having used VMWare products in much depth, I would agree with Hyper-Me just based off our experiences with Hyper-V in our shop... but when we quoted it out for our needs it wasn't the most economical solution.
    I'm guessing you guys didn't have a chance to look over what I was suggesting. The VMware licensing cost for him is less than $1k - that's it - and it includes the vCenter management server. An additional $2k gives him Agent-less Backup, Monitoring and Reporting.

    At $3k total I think it's a steal especially if he doesn't have OEM licenses for his existing Windows servers and can just re-purpose them once they are virtualized. Then he doesn't even have to buy Windows Server 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter Edition (no the free Hyper-V Server won't work as it's limited to 32GB RAM just like Standard Edition) - he'll end up saving money.
    Last edited by astorrs; 08-28-2009 at 06:11 AM.
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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by astorrs View Post
    I'm guessing you guys didn't have a chance to look over what I was suggesting. The VMware licensing cost for him is less than $1k - that's it - and it includes the vCenter management server. An additional $2k gives him Agent-less Backup, Monitoring and Reporting.

    At $3k total I think it's a steal especially if he doesn't have OEM licenses for his existing Windows servers and can just re-purpose them once they are virtualized. Then he doesn't even have to buy Windows Server 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter Edition (no the free Hyper-V Server won't work as it's limited to 32GB RAM just like Standard Edition) - he'll end up saving money.
    I said Hyper-V Server R2. It can utilize up to 1 TB of RAM.
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    #20
    Yup, but the word here is money money money... and lets throw in another two words OS support...

    Vmware has support for more linux flavors and others OSes, and the number of vms I can use is unlimited and cheaper since im buying per processor licences...

    Besides I will have to buy a windows 2008 server licence and add the hyper V licence which if Im not mistaken will need 1 HyperV licence for up to 4 vms, and lets face it Veeam's suite has a lot more to offer...
    Last edited by maumercado; 08-28-2009 at 01:03 PM.
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    #21
    wow you have that all wrong.

    If you are wanting unlimited vm rights.

    For vmware:

    esx license per processor
    datacenter license per processor


    For hyper-v:
    datacenter license per processor. (includes hyper-v)
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    #22
    Gah. Not another ESX vs Hyper-V argument. Go reuse the other thread!
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    #23
    Quote Originally Posted by tiersten View Post
    Gah. Not another ESX vs Hyper-V argument. Go reuse the other thread!

    I was just stating that he stands to save a couple-three grand considering his setup isnt going to be overly complicated and therefore probably doesnt need some of the features of ESX.
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    #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyper-Me View Post
    wow you have that all wrong.
    Actually in this case you are.

    He doesn't need unlimited Windows VM rights and already has the applicable O/S licenses he needs so:

    For VMware:
    1 copy of VMware Essentials @ $995
    For Hyper-V:
    2 processor licenses of Windows Server 2008 Datacenter Edition (2 x 2999) @ $5998
    Yes you could argue for Hyper-V Server, but don't... please.
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    #25
    We are primarily going with Hyper-V because of the savings on licensing costs, but we are not really planning to vitualize any Linux distros under these servers. We tested some of our Linux systems on Hyper-V prior to R2 and they did not work well, the official support for them is spotty - required extra effort and at that point it would only support a single processor so we nixed the Linux idea. For us the big cost benefit is on licensing since we did purchase OEM licenses which are non-transferable. Fortunately, what we are planning to virtualize will run fine under Server 2008 so Enterprise or Datacenter would work great for us.

    Looking back and seeing the Linux requirements, they will probably work fine since it's effectively RHEL. But if the OP plans to use more than one processor I don't think Hyper-V would actually work for him. I'm not sure how it works/not works, but I know MS only officially supports one processor for any of the supported Linux variants.

    If I had my way, I would prefer my organization went with VMWare just because I would feel more comfortable given it's been a more widely used and proven technology. I would also prefer that since I think VMWare experience (which I am very very limited with) would be much better for my career than Hyper-V experience.
    Last edited by msteinhilber; 08-28-2009 at 09:33 PM.
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