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Need a CHEAPO Test Server? Maybe?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I want to familiarize myself with VMware, Server 2008 R2, as well as other enterprise network solutions.

I have a copy of Server 2008 R2 from Dreamspark.
I can use VMware vSphere Hypervisor for virtualization.

I own an APC SMT1500 UPS with which I will practice managing as well.
I will also be purchasing an ESET NOD32 antivirus suite to practice with and push out to my personal system which will be added on the domain.

I would like to familiarize myself with [hardware] RAID arrays.
I would also like to purchase a NAS in the future so I can understand that technology as well.

Clearly I am new to the server area. frown.gif What should I do? Should I purchase a separate server or would all of this be possible on my current computer with VMware? If I have to purchase a server, should I get a rack mounted one with a rack to practice installation and get used to this type of technology? This is the direction I would like to head in.

Sorry guys, lol. frown.gif
post #2 of 6
RAID configurations are easy, NAS are generally easy too. The real tricky part, and biggest thing I find my self doing is setting up shares, permissions, connecting to it and the like. Connecting to LUN's via iSCSI or FC is really just a quick process, and isn't much different then a digital form of plugging in a new hard drive.

What really helped me get ready for network administration was taking a cheap Optiplex 755 with 6-8GB RAM, and I setup a network.

Here is a good setup to work on, and will teach you a lot:
-Setup ESXi on dedicated hardware
-Create a V-switch for this new network you are building
-Create a Linux VM to act as the router
-Create 2 Windows servers, one will be a file server, the other will be for your Windows Domain controller and DHCP/DNS server
-Get them all to talk to each other. (Ok, the linux router can be removed and you can use an Untangle Virtual Appliance for an easier time).
-Create your domain and join the Windows file server to the domain.
-Create a few Vdisks for the file server; these will be your "SAN LUNs/NAS" drives (we don't care about that stuff, we just care about you learning to setup shares and the like)
-Setup a client machine on hte network running your favorite Windows OS, and joined to your domain. Play with accessing shares; setup users, present users shares etc..

That will keep you occupied for a while! It sounds like a lot, but if you break it down into steps, I'd bet you can do it just fine. I did this a few years back, and found it was incredibly useful, and really prepared me for administration.

Feel free to PM me with questions
Edited by trueg50 - 1/6/12 at 12:54pm
    
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
@trueg: Thank you. That was very helpful.

My only issue now is finding a server for a reasonable price. Should I check out the website someone else recommended (I forget the name) or should I look on Craigslist for one? Perhaps I should just buy parts individually and build one myself?

It's tough to know what to look for when buying an inexpensive server as I don't want to get one that's missing something I may need, like a RAID controller. Can you offer one?
post #4 of 6
You can sometimes find good deals on craigslist. But it would be also a good idea to take a look at the market section of the forums. You can piece together a decent server for fairly cheap.

You can also look in the phonebook (digitally if you perfer) for an E-Recycle place near you. Some of them will sell used server they get in. If you are in a CIS or CIT program you can ask your instructors if they have any good contacts in the industry. Some times a former student will already be in the industry and are upgrading their hardware and would donate to the cause.
 
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post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imrac View Post

You can sometimes find good deals on craigslist. But it would be also a good idea to take a look at the market section of the forums. You can piece together a decent server for fairly cheap.
You can also look in the phonebook (digitally if you perfer) for an E-Recycle place near you. Some of them will sell used server they get in. If you are in a CIS or CIT program you can ask your instructors if they have any good contacts in the industry. Some times a former student will already be in the industry and are upgrading their hardware and would donate to the cause.

The only thing keeping me from Craigslist is used goods. You never know... I'd prefer to spend an extra $300 and get new stuff unless I knew it was in functional working condition without quirky issues.

I would like to build a server as well but I have no idea what servers entail! Clearly PC components are quite a bit more standardized than servers as you need a CPU, GPUs for games, fast DDR3 RAM, some nice SSDs, but servers are more confusing to me because you need a different type of CPU, no GPUs, RAID controllers, ECC RAM??, SSDs in RAID - maybe? Doesn't this eliminate TRIM?

You can sense my confusion, I'm sure. headscratch.gif
post #6 of 6
i think a depends on what your ultimate goal is professionally. if you're going to manage IT systems/networks for large companies and at data centers, then you should get familiar with rack mount hardware. you can get a half height rack and some rackmount servers pretty easily on the used market for cheap. there's nothing wrong with used hardware so long as it checks out fine. If you don't see yourself managing racks full of servers and most likely end up working for a smaller business or medium size business that might have a closet full of tower servers, then the rack stuff may not matter.

as far as buying used servers, as long as you know what you're buying and know how to check it out, they should be okay. But, i would caution against picking up anything too old... as you'll end up with obsolete technology and miss out on newer stuff that would be more relevant... example: don't get anything with old SCSI drives, make sure you get something with SAS or SATA.

you can learn a LOT just in virtual machines and ESXi is a good place to start.
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