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  • Requesting Hardware Opinions

    I've inherited a network with 50 + users running on 2 terminal servers supported by 2 W2K domain controllers, an Exchange 2003 server, and a SQL 2000 server for a printing solution. File serving and VPNs are handled by one of the DCs, Backups by the other DC. The warranties have expired so I finally get to rebuild this.

    I'm very new to VMware, but my gut is to virtualize this network to make upgrading to Windows 2008 easier. I have extensive testing to do to make sure everything will work, and no budget for test hardware. So a big ESX server would be just the ticket to run the old network side by side with a test network.

    The Dell Sales Engineer suggested a pair of dual quad core 36 gig ESX 1950s connected to an MD3000i iSCSI san and just rip everything onto that. I would use the one new standalone server they have for management and retread one of the faster older servers as a domain controller.

    Is this plan complete suicide, vis performance? What other questions should I be asking? I'm kind of looking at this as creating one gigantic SBS.

  • #2
    Re: Requesting Hardware Opinions

    prmolina,

    The two dell servers you listed should be more then enough CPU horsepower to drive what you are looking at doing. One thing you failed to mention however was the amount of RAM you are spec'ing for each server. If you get around 16GB per that should be more then enough to handle the load of all VM's running on a single ESX host if you have to bring the other down for maintenance or have hardware issues (assuming you are going to do an ESX "datacenter" with the two hosts).

    I am not that familiar with the Dell iSCSI SAN you mentioned, but as long as you get enough disk spindles in the unit you shouldn't have to worry to much about disk I/O for the more critcal application servers like SQL and Exchange.

    -Jason
    MCSA/MCSE 2K3,MCITP:ESA,MCTS x 4,VCP x 2

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    • #3
      Re: Requesting Hardware Opinions

      Jason, thanks for the quick reply!

      One thing you failed to mention however was the amount of RAM you are spec'ing for each server.
      Judy quoted this with 32 gig of ram, so should be set there.

      I am not that familiar with the Dell iSCSI SAN you mentioned, but as long as you get enough disk spindles in the unit you shouldn't have to worry to much about disk I/O for the more critcal application servers like SQL and Exchange.
      This is puzzling me, I really wished I knew more about SANs. The unit was quoted with 2 dual-port controllers, and 7 300 GB 15K drives. She seemed to say I could go in and set up different RAID levels depending on the requirements of the role of the virtualized server - eg RAID 10 for the SQL server. But wouldn't I do that before laying VMFS onto the drive that creates? In which case, isn't 7 drives a little small spindle-wise? Might I be better off with 10 - 15 10K 150 gig drives? I had hoped to run 3 raid sets minimum, one for each ESX server, and one for my DEV/test VMs.

      -Paul

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      • #4
        Re: Requesting Hardware Opinions

        Originally posted by prmolina View Post

        This is puzzling me, I really wished I knew more about SANs. The unit was quoted with 2 dual-port controllers, and 7 300 GB 15K drives. She seemed to say I could go in and set up different RAID levels depending on the requirements of the role of the virtualized server - eg RAID 10 for the SQL server. But wouldn't I do that before laying VMFS onto the drive that creates? In which case, isn't 7 drives a little small spindle-wise? Might I be better off with 10 - 15 10K 150 gig drives? I had hoped to run 3 raid sets minimum, one for each ESX server, and one for my DEV/test VMs.

        -Paul
        This is where I would get more details from you vendor on the capabilities of the unit. With only 7 physical disks you are going to be very limited on the RAID sets you can create (min 3 disk for R5 and min 2 disk for R1, min 4 disk for R10). If it is for budget concerns I would go with more smaller size disks/faster RPM then larger slower ones (keeping in mind though for furture expansion you may have to purchase additional shelves instead of having free slots in your existing chassis by going with larger disks).

        If you go with the 15 disk route I would probably go with three five disk R5's and creat 1 lun per R5 set and present it to each of the ESX hosts. Now depending on the abilities of the unit a better way to go would be to create the three R5's and create something like three 200GB lun on each R5. Then you could stripe one lun per raid set to make a 600GB meta lun, thus striping the I/O across all 15 disks in the unit as opposed to only 5 disks as I mentioned before. Of course, this is all dependant on if the unit can do that.

        -Jason
        MCSA/MCSE 2K3,MCITP:ESA,MCTS x 4,VCP x 2

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