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post #11 of 16
if you go used, and especially with Dell servers, don't bother with the 8th gen stuff like the 1800,1850,2800, etc.... they don't support VT and since you mentioned VMware, you might as well get one that supports VT so you can setup 64bit VMs for whatever it is you want to do. the 1900,1950,2900,2950 will all support VT. there are 10th and 11th gen Dell servers too, but I've heard the 10th gen are really bad in terms of reliability, e.g., a data center that bought hundreds of them had over 3 quarters of them fail over a 2-3 yr period.

you say disk space isn't an issue, however, when you start using virtual machines, you'll end up eating a lot of disk space fast since you'll be installing more than one OS in the VMware host. just mentioning it so you can reconsider your disk space requirements.

now, on the specific issue of running this "at home"... you'll want to consider a few factors:

1) power consumption (residential power is more expensive than industrial/commercial)
2) cooling (depending on what you get, how you use it, and how much other equipment you have, you'll need to consider if there is adequate cooling. if you're putting all this stuff in a closet, there might not be enough airflow to keep things cool. if you're putting it in a room in the house, ideally the room should be about 18-20C at all times. if you have cooling issues, getting a small A/C unit that mounts in the window will usually be sufficient, but cost more in power)
3) noise - if you're putting this in your home office or some other place where you'll be spending some time, you'll want to consider finding servers that are relatively quiet or one that you can make quiet. rackmount servers are usually optimized for data centers and not engineered to be quiet. also, the smaller form factors (1U,2U,3U) servers have to use higher speed fans due to the smaller airflow cross-section; i'm talking about fans that are designed to run between 2000-9000RPM... and in "comfortable" room temperature will usually run at 4000+RPM; this is going to be pretty loud, especially if there are 6 or 8 of these fans in the server.

this is the reason why i normally recommend getting a "bigger" server for home use, not for the capacity in disk drive space or anything else, but because bigger servers (4U and above) have a larger airflow cross-section allowing for slower fans that will be quieter for a home office. one of my favorite options is the PowerEdge 2900 from Dell. It has 6x 92mm fans that will run about 2400RPM at a comfortable room temperature. However, you can quiet the server further by replacing those fans with quieter fans (albeit, those that run at lower RPMs) and still maintain enough cooling.
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post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLinux;11737647 
if you go used, and especially with Dell servers, don't bother with the 8th gen stuff like the 1800,1850,2800, etc.... they don't support VT and since you mentioned VMware, you might as well get one that supports VT so you can setup 64bit VMs for whatever it is you want to do. the 1900,1950,2900,2950 will all support VT. there are 10th and 11th gen Dell servers too, but I've heard the 10th gen are really bad in terms of reliability, e.g., a data center that bought hundreds of them had over 3 quarters of them fail over a 2-3 yr period.

you say disk space isn't an issue, however, when you start using virtual machines, you'll end up eating a lot of disk space fast since you'll be installing more than one OS in the VMware host. just mentioning it so you can reconsider your disk space requirements.

now, on the specific issue of running this "at home"... you'll want to consider a few factors:

1) power consumption (residential power is more expensive than industrial/commercial)
2) cooling (depending on what you get, how you use it, and how much other equipment you have, you'll need to consider if there is adequate cooling. if you're putting all this stuff in a closet, there might not be enough airflow to keep things cool. if you're putting it in a room in the house, ideally the room should be about 18-20C at all times. if you have cooling issues, getting a small A/C unit that mounts in the window will usually be sufficient, but cost more in power)
3) noise - if you're putting this in your home office or some other place where you'll be spending some time, you'll want to consider finding servers that are relatively quiet or one that you can make quiet. rack mount servers are usually optimized for data centers and not engineered to be quiet. also, the smaller form factors (1U,2U,3U) servers have to use higher speed fans due to the smaller airflow cross-section; I'm talking about fans that are designed to run between 2000-9000RPM... and in "comfortable" room temperature will usually run at 4000+RPM; this is going to be pretty loud, especially if there are 6 or 8 of these fans in the server.

this is the reason why i normally recommend getting a "bigger" server for home use, not for the capacity in disk drive space or anything else, but because bigger servers (4U and above) have a larger airflow cross-section allowing for slower fans that will be quieter for a home office. one of my favorite options is the PowerEdge 2900 from Dell. It has 6x 92mm fans that will run about 2400RPM at a comfortable room temperature. However, you can quiet the server further by replacing those fans with quieter fans (albeit, those that run at lower RPMs) and still maintain enough cooling.

I appreciate your extensive commentary. I've been looking specifically at the 2950's I & II. Disk space isn't important to me out of the gate because it's the cheapest updateable component. I'd rather spend the inital money with a nicer cpu and a little more memory and get more disk space as I move from my Cisco certifications to VMware. The VMware host I'm using at the moment is running what I'm wanting to do right now, it's just a huge chunk of metal is a pain in the ass and I want to move the functionality onto my current rack.

Power and noise is a bit of a sore subject with me. I live in Arizona and during the summer months it can easily get 95+ degrees and sound like a flipping wind tunnel in my office when all of my devices are up and running. I appreciate the explanations non the less smile.gif

To be fair, all I really want is a rack mount server that will run a simulated VMware production environment for VM certification studying, and powerful enough to run around 20-30 emulated cisco routers in Ubuntu/Dynamips. The Cisco emulation will eat up 2.5GB-3.5GB of memory alone. I'm running 6gb on my current machine right now and it's just not enough for an all in one server.

I just hate spending money. And on top of that I'm compleatly pegged out on my 12u rack and need to find a 24u or 28u rack and APC masterswitch for remote powering. I almost won a ap9211 last night on ebay but no dice. I wanted that thing too.

/tangent.

Edit: What do you suggest? The best bang for the buck server for what I'm looking to accomplish. I really don't want to spend the next couple weeks learning everything there is to know about rack-mounted servers, options, ebay prices, etc.etc. What am I looking at?
Edited by scottsee - 12/22/10 at 9:11am
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post #13 of 16
Hey there...

Ok, so you're looking to not spend a lot of money, but you want something useful enough for professional education purposes, right? I've been there so I understand your objective. Back in the days when I got started in my profession, I use to have 20+ machines in my house and the local power company loved me; but most of it paid off in terms of career development, etc. These days I've consolidated almost everything in virtual machines.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsee;11739220 
I appreciate your extensive commentary. I've been looking specifically at the 2950's I & II. Disk space isn't important to me out of the gate because it's the cheapest updateable component. I'd rather spend the inital money with a nicer cpu and a little more memory and get more disk space as I move from my Cisco certifications to VMware. The VMware host I'm using at the moment is running what I'm wanting to do right now, it's just a huge chunk of metal is a pain in the ass and I want to move the functionality onto my current rack.

Let me revise my comment about disk space. If this is for educational purposes, I think you're going to want to maximize disk space *expandability* within the server, not necessarily get all the disk space up front. The 2950 you're looking at is typically configured with a 6 drive bay capacity (using 3.5" drives). On rare configurations, you might find a 8 drive bay using 2.5" drives; but those are relatively rare and the 2.5" drives are typically more expensive. I'm certainly not suggesting that you get a disk array like the Dell MD1000 or similar products. But, having more drive bays in the server is going to allow you to expand in the future when that time comes. You can start with just 1 or 2 hard drives in the server, but you don't want to be in the situation where you need more drive bays and run out and then you have to consider getting another server. That's why i suggest the 2900; it has 8 drive bays by default with an extensible 2-drive bay "flex bay" option for a total of 10 drives. Not only that, it has 3x 5.25" optical drive bays which you can use to expand with a 4-in-1 2.5" drive bay kit to add at least 8x 2.5" drives (and another RAID controller) for future expansion. You certainly don't have to do that, but it's good to have that extra capacity, especially if you're going to be setting up virtual machine labs. I have a VMware lab myself, spread across two servers. Even though I don't have every virtual machine running, i have over 100+ virtual machine images setup for various test scenarios. I can fire them up when I need to run a specific test or brush up my skills on specific technologies. But, even when I don't have them running, they are taking up disk space. This is my point about disk space *expandability*, even if you start at a minimum.

if anything, especially if you're using VMs, spend your money on memory. The 2900 has 12 DIMM slots with a maximum memory capacity of 64GB. However, to get 64GB, you'll need 8GB DIMMs of the FB-DIMM/ECC variety. These are very expensive. For budget conscious, I usually recommend using 4GB FB-DIMM because they are much cheaper. So, with 4GB DIMMs, you'll max out at 48GB. And if you're looking for a good deal, buy used and setup an automated alert for this memory on ebay; anything about $70 per 4GB FB-DIMM is a pretty good deal, but you might pay more.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsee;11739220 
Power and noise is a bit of a sore subject with me. I live in Arizona and during the summer months it can easily get 95+ degrees and sound like a flipping wind tunnel in my office when all of my devices are up and running. I appreciate the explanations non the less smile.gif

ah, ok... then cooling may become an issue at some point. in which case, I recommend a larger U server for a larger airflow cross section. this will help you save on energy bills for cooling as you can keep a warmer room (up to 25C ambient) and your fans can spin slower. This will keep the noise down as well and allow you to keep your sanity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsee;11739220 
To be fair, all I really want is a rack mount server that will run a simulated VMware production environment for VM certification studying, and powerful enough to run around 20-30 emulated cisco routers in Ubuntu/Dynamips. The Cisco emulation will eat up 2.5GB-3.5GB of memory alone. I'm running 6gb on my current machine right now and it's just not enough for an all in one server.

I just hate spending money. And on top of that I'm compleatly pegged out on my 12u rack and need to find a 24u or 28u rack and APC masterswitch for remote powering. I almost won a ap9211 last night on ebay but no dice. I wanted that thing too.
had you asked me early on, I would have suggesting getting a full 42U rack to begin with. That's what I have and it filled up easily. On the other hand, it is really nice to have all my equipment stacked up vertically and clearing out floor space; it was all well worth it. in my own lab, I've put a lot of effort into being energy efficient, space efficient, and reduced noise. I got lucky however, because a neighbor had a 42U rack he wanted to get rid of so it saved me the hassle of having one shipped to me in a crate.

talking about power, you'll probably want to consider getting a rack mount UPS along with PDUs (preferrably managed PDUs). I also have a 1U rackmount LCD/keyboard hooked to a 0U KVM unit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsee;11739220 
/tangent.

Edit: What do you suggest? The best bang for the buck server for what I'm looking to accomplish. I really don't want to spend the next couple weeks learning everything there is to know about rack-mounted servers, options, ebay prices, etc.etc. What am I looking at?

my suggestion? plain and simple, get a PowerEdge 2900 in rackmount configuration. Try to get a II or III as those are the only ones that support quad cores so if you want to upgrade in the future you have options. the gen-I only supports dual cores. On the other hand, if you're looking for energy efficiency and lower cooling requirements, using a pair of dual core 5148LV Xeons (about $30 each) will lower your electric bill; they are only about 40W TDP i think... compared to the typical 80W TDP for the "E" series Xeons or the 120W TDP of the "X" series Xeons. Here are my reasons for the 2900:

1) larger (5U) airflow cross section reduces cooling needs/energy costs
2) 48GB (using 4GB DIMM) or 64GB (using 8GB DIMM) memory capacity
3) relatively cheap server on the used market (i happen to be selling one for about $800, but i'm in San Diego so my opinion here isn't motivated by my trying to sell one of my servers since I'm not willing to ship this thing, i'm just giving you an idea of the cost)
4) disk drive expandability (at least 8x, expandable to 10x, or 16x using 2.5" drives)
5) a lot more expansion slots (1x 8-lane PCI-E, 3x 4-lane PCI-E, and 2x PCI-X)... going off memory so don't hold me to it... but that's close. you'll be able to add a few quad port NICs easily if needed.
5) you can replace the fans with quiet 92mm pwm fans to reduce server noise (and reduce energy consumption by the fans)
6) this machine is VMware certified for ESX/ESXi

I really do think a PE2900 would be a great place to start if this is your first server. If you exhaust the dual quad cores (8 cores total) and 64GB of memory in the future, you can turn the 2900 into a massive file server and get smaller 1U machines with CPU & memory to run your VMs over a file sharing protocol like NFS. In that scenario, you'll also be able to try out the Vmotion capability in VMware.
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post #14 of 16
If you lived close to San Jose I would give you a used rack... We scrap a couple a month.

Good info Blinux!
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post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Jesus. The 2600 rack mounts are hitting the grand mark.. I can see the value in an investment like that for someone needing to study for Microsoft certifications, or their VCP, but that's a smidge over my budget.

I'm beginning to see a trend here. Money in = money out.

I'll pick this up again after the holidays I need time to morn the inevitable loss of some of my bank account..
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post #16 of 16
I own a PowerEdge R510 and it's solid. Relatively quiet, which is good enough for me as I keep it locked in a closet. Look on Dell Outlet for a good deal, but don't get your hopes up - it looks like their inventory hasn't change in the last 6 months and everything is overpriced :s
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