bshubinsky
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Stuck at a crossroads

It appears that I'm at a bit of a crossroads right now. We're looking to implement vSphere 4 soon and I'm speccing out some servers. I can go one of two ways:

1) Two moderately powerful servers (2.9 Xeon, 64 gigs of RAM)

2) One powerhouse (4 Xeons, 128/256 (not sure yet) gigs of RAM)

I like the ability to distribute VMs across different hosts with the moderate setup, but my main concern is that it won't be powerful enough. I like the powerhouse idea in that I'll be comfortable with my specs and what I can do with it.

I'd love to hear everyone's opinion on this.

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28 Replies
Troy_Clavell
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Immortal

I like the idea of the server with more RAM. You will run out of memory resources before CPU. So, if budget allows, I would order the host with the most RAM.

just my .02

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NTurnbull
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Personally I'd go with the 2 boxes and lob in the shared storage so you can use vMotion, HA & DRS to give you flexibility. I'd be looking at the age old addage, don't put all your eggs in one basket - what happens if your mainboard or a CPU goes and your left in a position where ALL your guests are down! With the 2 boxes and HA at least (given the resources) the guests on the failed box would be restarted on the other host.

Another point would be disk space. With the powerhouse box your putting together, how many disks/spindles can you cram in and how many controllers to spread the disk IO loads? If you've already got a SAN and you have the capacity then it doesn't matter, but if you've already got the SAN or getting one then I'd still go with the 2 boxes.

VMware isn't just about the ability to bung loads of servers onto one physical machine, it's about the other management options and feature rich functionality that makes up the whole package. It makes administraton so much easier and less of a head ache on a day to day basis and in a crisis!

Anyway, my 10p Smiley Happy






Thanks,

Neil

Thanks, Neil
Troy_Clavell
Immortal
Immortal

Upon reading the thread a little deeper, I have to agree with Neil. If it's two ESX hosts, compared to just one, then I would choose the two setup, if you are using vCenter, which will give you the flexibility of redundancy.

...but if you can get two boxes of the larger hosts, then I say go for that.

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bshubinsky
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

So your saying you'd rather have a single server loaded with RAM, rather than two servers with less?

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bshubinsky
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

We will be getting a SAN with this. I was leaning moreso towards the two servers, but I figured I'd get the communities opinion on it prior to throwing in my suggestions for servers.

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Troy_Clavell
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Immortal

I didn't read the thread close enough. I would say two is better than one, if for nothing else redundancy. Especially if your getting a SAN and vCenter.

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bshubinsky
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Are far as drives are concerned, does anyone have any qualms (assuming we have a SAN) with using SATA drives in a RAID 1 for the vSphere setup? I'm imagining the server itself isn't really pushing much I/O, it's mostly the SAN.

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NTurnbull
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You could always look at booting the ESX hosts from SAN and do away with the disks - Just remember that each 'boot' LUN has to zoned to only one host






Thanks,

Neil

Thanks, Neil
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NTurnbull
Expert
Expert

...but if you can get two boxes of the larger hosts, then I say go for that.

That would nice with the SAN - cost might be a limiting factor Smiley Happy






Thanks,

Neil

Thanks, Neil
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Troy_Clavell
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Immortal

yes, but isn't cost never a factor in purchasing? Smiley Happy

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NTurnbull
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Expert

Ah the age old war with the bean counters... Might head over to El Reg for a BOFH hit Smiley Happy






Thanks,

Neil

Thanks, Neil
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bshubinsky
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Cost is a definite factor for us, times are tough people 😛

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Troy_Clavell
Immortal
Immortal

I would start to weigh out the price options for everything. If you want the redundancy of two servers, you will also need to purchase vCenter4 along with your shared storage.

Have a look at this whitepaper, it may be useful

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bshubinsky
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

We are probably going to go with vSphere 4 Advanced, which I believe comes with vCenter. Our server budget is separate from the SAN and software.

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TobiasKracht
Expert
Expert

Yes, it does.

StarWind Software R&D

StarWind Software R&D http://www.starwindsoftware.com
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AntonVZhbankov
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Immortal

I'd prefer 3(!) servers for failover capability. One server down = 33% resources lost. Compare it to 50% and 100%.


---

MCSA, MCTS, VCP, VMware vExpert '2009

http://blog.vadmin.ru

EMCCAe, MCITP: SA+VA, VCP 3/4/5, VMware vExpert http://blog.vadmin.ru
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TobiasKracht
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Expert

Anton is right here. Also, need to note that 3 servers is minimal recommended configuration for building VmWare HA configuration.

StarWind Software R&D

StarWind Software R&D http://www.starwindsoftware.com
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bshubinsky
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Thanks for the help everyone. It looks like we'll be going with 2 (I asked for maybe 3, but I don't think it'll happen since we are only virtualizing a small percentage this year) hosts with 72GB RAM a piece.

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Datto
Expert
Expert

Definitely go with two servers rather than just one. There will come a time where you'll have to do maintenance to one of the physical servers and you'll want the ability to VMotion the VMs over to the other server wtihout incurring downtime.

Also, you'll likely want to have VMware HA capability engaged and in the future, you may want VMware FT capability engaged and those will require at least two physical servers (preferably three for VMware FT).

Also, assuming your SAN is Fibre and IS a modern, enterprise-grade SAN, I'd boot from SAN rather than booting from local ESX hosts disks.

If your SAN is Fibre, get six physical NICs in each server (eight if iSCSI) so you can get redundancy for all the ESX functions plus be able to get a redundant, seperate VMware FT connection engaged in the future.

Datto