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Server for MCSA training

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
Hey all, I was hoping some of you with much more knowledge than I could provide some insight into an appropriate setup. The MCSA training materials state that I'll need a machine capable of running up to 4 VMs in Hyper-V using Server 2008 R2. So, I have some dumb questions because I'm still a dummy about server hardware. I will build this rig from scratch, and want to find some middle ground between a POS white box and a custom Dell or HP server

1. Aside from the reliability of enterprise grade hardware, is there any reason I couldnt use consumer hardware for my purposes? Like, use a Sandy Bridge 2600K instead of a Xeon? Sata instead of SAS?

2. Another dumb question; would using consumer grade hardware limit what the server would do? Like, i know i wouldnt have a iDRAC on a consumer build. any reason I couldnt install dual NICs on a consumer mobo?

Remember, this is only for training. For all I know, I could get away with using the bare minimum consumer grade hardware and it would be enough. I just cant find these simple answers. It would appear that I'd be able to accomplish this on a quad core with 4GB memory and dual NICs, which can be done for a reasonable cost.

Anybody else built a machine specifically for MCSA training?
post #2 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MudBoat View Post

Hey all, I was hoping some of you with much more knowledge than I could provide some insight into an appropriate setup. The MCSA training materials state that I'll need a machine capable of running up to 4 VMs in Hyper-V using Server 2008 R2. So, I have some dumb questions because I'm still a dummy about server hardware. I will build this rig from scratch, and want to find some middle ground between a POS white box and a custom Dell or HP server
1. Aside from the reliability of enterprise grade hardware, is there any reason I couldnt use consumer hardware for my purposes? Like, use a Sandy Bridge 2600K instead of a Xeon? Sata instead of SAS?
2. Another dumb question; would using consumer grade hardware limit what the server would do? Like, i know i wouldnt have a iDRAC on a consumer build. any reason I couldnt install dual NICs on a consumer mobo?
Remember, this is only for training. For all I know, I could get away with using the bare minimum consumer grade hardware and it would be enough. I just cant find these simple answers. It would appear that I'd be able to accomplish this on a quad core with 4GB memory and dual NICs, which can be done for a reasonable cost.
Anybody else built a machine specifically for MCSA training?

Buy consumer grade hardware, no reason not too. Enterprise hardware is only designed to be more reliable, and faster....but there is nothing wrong with consumer grade material. I have two Hyper-V Nodes in a cluster at home, for my domain and they both run AMD FX-8120 CPUs and 32GB of cheap DDR3 RAM. A pair of 60GB SSDs in Raid 1 with the onboard controller. Cheap, and does the job greatly.

If you need more NICs, get a dual gigabit NIC PCIe card...which will run you anywhere from $60-150, depending on brand and where you get it.

RAM is cheap, and you will need more than 4GB for 4 VMs plus the host. The host, if running 2008R2 will take up 512mb of that RAM easy, if not more. RAM is cheap. $100 and you should be able to get 4x4GB, giving you 16GB of RAM. 2-4GB of RAM per VM, and 2-4 vCPUs per VM and you will have great performance, for cheap. Buy a quad core Intel with HT, or a AMD FX 8 core. FX-8120 would be like $100-150, and will give you 8 cores at 3.1Ghz, which will be great for VMs.
post #3 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the detailed response. Luckily, you said exactly what I was hoping for!

Did you do anything special regarding redundant PSUs or case/thermal management with your nodes? I have intentions to continue using this machine after school, so I might as well put some redundancy in it in terms of PSUs and RAID.
post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MudBoat View Post

Thank you so much for the detailed response. Luckily, you said exactly what I was hoping for!
Did you do anything special regarding redundant PSUs or case/thermal management with your nodes? I have intentions to continue using this machine after school, so I might as well put some redundancy in it in terms of PSUs and RAID.

I do not use redundant PSUs in any of my stuff. Not worth the cost in a home network, in my opinion. If the PSU dies in one of my nodes, my VMs will failover to the other host...which is the point of clustering. Between these two boxes, I have ran as many as 26 VMs to stress test, but currently run about 12, which will easily fit on one of the nodes if the other goes down. For my Hyper-V nodes, I just use the onboard AMD SouthBridge raid...which is a basic firmware raid. It's a Raid 1, so there is no parity, and pretty hard to screw up a Raid 1.

I do have a storage server, which is almost finished...but no redundant PSUs there either. I typically get 80+ Gold or Platinum for efficiency, and something with a 5+ year warranty. I don't run a business so I can handle some downtime on something, if I have to...but that has never happened yet. In my storage server I use a real raid controller (LSI MegaRaid 9261-8i) and I will be adding a SAS expander, and will end up with a 20 3TB drive Raid 60 (~42TB for storage) and a 4 drive Raid 5 (15K RPM SAS drives for VM storage). Feel free to check out my build log on my storage server, link is in my sig (NUS/mDC Build Log).

Good luck with your studies. I assume by MCSA you are referring to the Server 2008 R2 stuff (Active Directory, Server Network, and Server Administrator)...which is something I am also working on currently (but I do have several other Microsoft certifications). The MCSA Server 2012 stuff is just around the corner too!

EDIT: Oh, as far as thermal management...I use 4U Rosewill Chassis (like $80 each) for my nodes, and they have 5 120mm and 2 80mm case fans...and plenty of room. Everything stays very cool, and it's nice and quiet (not silent, but quiet enough that I ran both of them in the living room when I was living in an apartment).
Edited by tycoonbob - 8/23/12 at 4:15pm
post #5 of 49
The only time I've had a redundant PSU go bad is when both of them went bad simultaneously.
    
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post #6 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tycoonbob View Post

I do not use redundant PSUs in any of my stuff. Not worth the cost in a home network, in my opinion. If the PSU dies in one of my nodes, my VMs will failover to the other host...which is the point of clustering. Between these two boxes, I have ran as many as 26 VMs to stress test, but currently run about 12, which will easily fit on one of the nodes if the other goes down. For my Hyper-V nodes, I just use the onboard AMD SouthBridge raid...which is a basic firmware raid. It's a Raid 1, so there is no parity, and pretty hard to screw up a Raid 1.
I do have a storage server, which is almost finished...but no redundant PSUs there either. I typically get 80+ Gold or Platinum for efficiency, and something with a 5+ year warranty. I don't run a business so I can handle some downtime on something, if I have to...but that has never happened yet. In my storage server I use a real raid controller (LSI MegaRaid 9261-8i) and I will be adding a SAS expander, and will end up with a 20 3TB drive Raid 60 (~42TB for storage) and a 4 drive Raid 5 (15K RPM SAS drives for VM storage). Feel free to check out my build log on my storage server, link is in my sig (NUS/mDC Build Log).
Good luck with your studies. I assume by MCSA you are referring to the Server 2008 R2 stuff (Active Directory, Server Network, and Server Administrator)...which is something I am also working on currently (but I do have several other Microsoft certifications). The MCSA Server 2012 stuff is just around the corner too!
EDIT: Oh, as far as thermal management...I use 4U Rosewill Chassis (like $80 each) for my nodes, and they have 5 120mm and 2 80mm case fans...and plenty of room. Everything stays very cool, and it's nice and quiet (not silent, but quiet enough that I ran both of them in the living room when I was living in an apartment).

This is totally awesome. You are correct about the 2008 R2 stuff. I have no other certifications currently. Have a B.S. in Business Admin which has become boring to me. Check out my newegg cart below. I think its totally overkill for school use, but will be useful for business use afterwards. See anything mismatched or out of place?



SUPERMICRO SYS-7046A-T Workstation/Server Nehalem-ready Barebone, Dual LGA1366 Intel Xeon 5600/5500 Series (4U Rackmountable)
Item #: N82E16816101241
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
-$30.00 Instant
$899.99
$869.99


Western Digital RE4 WD1003FBYX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Enterprise Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822136798
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
Recover Your Data(expand for options)
-$30.00 Instant
$599.96
$479.96
($119.99 each) x 4


3ware 9650SE-4LPML KIT PCI Express Lanes: 4 SATA II (3.0Gb/s) Controller Card
Item #: N82E16816116042
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
-$10.00 Instant
$329.99
$319.99


Patriot Signature 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) ECC Registered Server Memory Model PS312G13ER3K-E
Item #: N82E16820220423
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy
$259.98
($129.99 each) x 2


Intel Xeon E5620 Westmere 2.4GHz LGA 1366 80W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80614E5620
Item #: N82E16819117234
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
$779.98
($389.99 each) x 2
Subtotal: $2,709.90
post #7 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oedipus View Post

The only time I've had a redundant PSU go bad is when both of them went bad simultaneously.

That would be quite the kicker! Probably had them attached to an obscenely expensive UPS too, right?
post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MudBoat View Post

That would be quite the kicker! Probably had them attached to an obscenely expensive UPS too, right?

Not really, just a dedicated SmartUPS 1500. Coincidentally, the issue was fully realized after I swapped the battery for the UPS, but that didn't cause the issue. I originally planned to keep the server online by doing the "power shuffle" from both PSUs in the UPS, to unplugging one, to plugging that one into another UPS, to finally unplugging the second lead to the UPS. The first sign of trouble was when I plugged the second lead into the wall and the light on the PSU didn't come on. For reasons I can't remember, I decided to just take the server offline at that point. After I swapped the battery and plugged the server back in to the UPS, neither PSU would light up. I could not believe it.

Luckily, they had several of these miserable HP Proliants in service so I was able to borrow a PSU from another server and run both in single PSU mode. As it turns out, both PSUs were part of a known bad run so they replaced them for free. Good thing, too, because the temporarily dead server was the lone Citrix box and was critical to their operations.

Actually I just sent out a quote to replace that server with a new T620. Never had a problem with Dell server power supplies, redundant or not.
    
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post #9 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oedipus View Post

Not really, just a dedicated SmartUPS 1500. Coincidentally, the issue was fully realized after I swapped the battery for the UPS, but that didn't cause the issue. I originally planned to keep the server online by doing the "power shuffle" from both PSUs in the UPS, to unplugging one, to plugging that one into another UPS, to finally unplugging the second lead to the UPS. The first sign of trouble was when I plugged the second lead into the wall and the light on the PSU didn't come on. For reasons I can't remember, I decided to just take the server offline at that point. After I swapped the battery and plugged the server back in to the UPS, neither PSU would light up. I could not believe it.
Luckily, they had several of these miserable HP Proliants in service so I was able to borrow a PSU from another server and run both in single PSU mode. As it turns out, both PSUs were part of a known bad run so they replaced them for free. Good thing, too, because the temporarily dead server was the lone Citrix box and was critical to their operations.
Actually I just sent out a quote to replace that server with a new T620. Never had a problem with Dell server power supplies, redundant or not.

Only thing I've ever used for my business was Dell PowerEdge. Not for any real reason, just had no trouble with them ever.

Those PSUs being from a bad run is unfortunate, but I guess it still doesnt explain simultaneous failure. Very odd.
post #10 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MudBoat View Post

This is totally awesome. You are correct about the 2008 R2 stuff. I have no other certifications currently. Have a B.S. in Business Admin which has become boring to me. Check out my newegg cart below. I think its totally overkill for school use, but will be useful for business use afterwards. See anything mismatched or out of place?

SUPERMICRO SYS-7046A-T Workstation/Server Nehalem-ready Barebone, Dual LGA1366 Intel Xeon 5600/5500 Series (4U Rackmountable)
Item #: N82E16816101241
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
-$30.00 Instant
$899.99
$869.99

Western Digital RE4 WD1003FBYX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Enterprise Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822136798
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
Recover Your Data(expand for options)
-$30.00 Instant
$599.96
$479.96
($119.99 each) x 4

3ware 9650SE-4LPML KIT PCI Express Lanes: 4 SATA II (3.0Gb/s) Controller Card
Item #: N82E16816116042
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
-$10.00 Instant
$329.99
$319.99

Patriot Signature 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) ECC Registered Server Memory Model PS312G13ER3K-E
Item #: N82E16820220423
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy
$259.98
($129.99 each) x 2

Intel Xeon E5620 Westmere 2.4GHz LGA 1366 80W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80614E5620
Item #: N82E16819117234
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
$779.98
($389.99 each) x 2
Subtotal: $2,709.90

You could get away with a lot less than that, let me know if you want me to draw you up something...

Comments:
Don't go LGA1366, go 1155
RE4's are good but you could get away with Seagate's or something cheaper.
Hardware RAID is good, but since you aren't running VMWare or Xen you can get away with the motherboards on board RAID. All you need to do is install the drivers into Windows.
    
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