Virtualized data center - Part Two: Hardware
Instead of making a list here of what requirements or needs for hardware hosts exist, I’ll make it plain and simple: CPU, memory and network links. Those are the most important things in a virtualization host and is all well documented in build guides across the internet.
What I would to talk about is the following: Whitebox vs. Branded servers!
Throughout the years I’ve been pretty much brainwashed (no kidding) that in a professional, production environment you only use “real” server hardware. And while I agree in every way on this statement for the single server appliances I have been thinking plenty about using whitebox machines as server hardware in virtualization hosts.
Now if you are using VMware this is mostly a mute point. There are very little boxes that you can build which are totally compatible with ESX so you are probably better off using branded servers.
But what if you decided to use Microsoft Hyper-V? Wouldn’t this allow you to build cheaper, bigger bang for the buck, virtualization hosts? Sure enough, you are not going to build a Quad socket, 256 Gb Ram machine on retailed hardware, but then again, why would you?
Unless you plan to deploy a virtualized data center in a large environment I don’t see the point of having a monster server like that sitting in your rack.
I have been researching the possibilities of using “cheap” hardware in a cluster environment to run as virtualization hosts. This particular approach requires more hosts in your environment to match up with larger branded offerings, but it also gives you a more granular control on what machine runs where and , very likely, a faster hardware procurement process.
My point here is that , taking Dell (R610) as an example a branded server will cost you about 3085 euro (incl taxes), whilst a white box configuration, built to a similar spec would cost you around 1200 euro (incl taxes) [As reference I’m talking about a single Quadcore processor, 24 GB or RAM, a sata drive, no OS licence or additional network cards...]
Now, if you take that cost difference you could deploy a cluster of 5 whitebox servers in comparison to a 2 server branded cluster. Yes, generally speaking branded servers give you better support options but these have NOT been selected in the webshop. If you could strike up a deal with a local hardware vendor I’m sure you get the boxes delivered to you manufactured. The only down side I can see is that you would not have a DRAC/iLO solution built in, but then again, you need a license for that as well J.
I’m sure I’m missing some things here so feel free to point them out to me in the given context of this article, namely virtualized data centers!

 

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# re: Virtualized data center - Part Two: Hardware
Gravatar Wait what?
Left by Marc on 7/16/2011 11:27 AM

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