JuliuspIV
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Contributor

Ridiculous Question: Custom Built ESX(i) Server: Worth it?

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Hi all. I'll start by saying I'm new to using VM; I only recently jumped on the wagon. Diving in headfirst, I'm looking to stand up a production ESX(i) server primarily running some flavor of *nix with a typical LAMP setup, and perhaps a few other ad-hoc *nix VM's. As SQL gets used more & more, I'll offload that to another physical machine, but for now I think I'm ok. I currently have a *nix LAMP server running on a Core 2 Quad (Q6600) & 4GB. Load hardly ever goes above 0.75 and I've yet to see it go above 2.25.

Now, unfortunately Scrooge McDuck isn't my uncle, so I can't plop down the umpteen K required on a nicely configured dual quad-core Xeon with 16GB of RAM. I've been looking around for refurbished hardware and although some prices were within my range (under 2k), many configurations didn't compare to what I have now. I don't mind making a lateral move in terms of processing power, RAM etc, but I feel that getting a dual 3.0 Xeon (single cores with an 800MHz FSB) would be a step down from a Core 2 Quad. (Am I wrong?) I found some interesting configurations here & there but have concerns about the antiquated hardware and limited growth potential. Most systems were either too expensive as configured, offered no two dual-core option, or the dual dual-core option maxed out at 2.8GHz. I'd prefer to buy something middle of the road so that at a minimum, it would replace what I have now, and also allow me to drop a pair of quad-core Xeon's down the road.

I typically build my own machines, but since ESX(i), from what I've gleaned so far, won't just install & run on anything, I have doubts this will be a viable option. Although the posts here & here (none of the xtravirt links work) suggest it has been done, they're touch out of date. That being said,

Is anyone doing anything with rececnt technology like Core i7's?

What about a recent dual Tyan/SuperMicro/Asus board and a couple of Gainestowns?

Do the savings, if any, of Build Your Own VM Servers outweigh the headaches of dealing with

- ESX(i) HCL compatible machines

- Aged & refurbished machines

Any input is greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading!

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weinstein5
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I f you are willing to run with motherboards not on the HCL you might want to check out http://vm-help.com/

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weinstein5
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Welcome to the Forums - There is nothing wrong with trying to build your own but make sure the hardware you get is on the HCL - http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php this will insure you do not run in to problems with unsupported hardware -

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JuliuspIV
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Thanks for taking the time to read & reply weinstein5!

For scalability, and some what wallet friendly purposes, I'm looking for a dual 5500/5600 board that would support Dual, Quad and Six-Core Xeons; At a minum, though, Quad and Six-Core Xeons. These boards, among others, offer just that.

SuperMicro: MBD-X8DTL, MBD-X8DAL, MBD-X8DTi, MBD-X8DTE (among others I'm sure)

Asus Z8NA-D6C, Z8NA-D6 (ASMB4-IKVM), Z8PE-D12(ASMB4-IKVM), Z8PE-D12X(ASMB4-IKVM) (among others I'm sure)

Intel S5500BCR, S5520HCR, S5520SCR (among others I'm sure)

I have searched for those model at the HCL page a few times along with the Community-Supported Hardware page, and maybe this is just me, but I couldn't locate any entries for those motherboards. I presume this means its yet to be tested(?) or the results simply aren't in yet.

I don't know that I've made much progress but I really appreciate the response. I'll keep an eye on this post & close if it seems to die off.

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weinstein5
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I f you are willing to run with motherboards not on the HCL you might want to check out http://vm-help.com/

If you find this or any other answer useful please consider awarding points by marking the answer correct or helpful

If you find this or any other answer useful please consider awarding points by marking the answer correct or helpful
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pijin
Contributor
Contributor

Julius,

If you do a search of ALL compatible motherboard you will find it is a very short list compared to the barebones servers list.  Also there are a lot of obscure names with relatively few of the more common ones (except Intel of course.)  I suspect it is just easier to test barebones servers so they get tested more commonly than individual motherboards which would require a bit more assembly.  If anyone knows about the certification process I'd love to have a better understanding of it.  Do the manufacturers have to apply to vmWare to get their product tested, or do  vmWare's labs pick and choose their own list of products to test?

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JohnADCO
Expert
Expert

We just had a need to upgrade to 64GB on quite a few of our hosts......

Instead we found that a 12Core AMD based Dell R415 w/64GB Ram was cheaper than upgrading our existing hosts to 64GB ram.

Since then,  We have purchased quite a few now and have found they are cheaper than what we can actually build a decent Vmware host for.   It's tough to get Dell reps to configure them on the cheap though, so you have to beat them up.

Just an additional thought on building -vs- buying.      In that it is not always less expensive,  but you do get to hand pick you components, so you can certainly end up with a "better" box for your money.

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