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VMware hardware recommendations for development setup

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July 1, 2011 10:19:54 AM

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I have been using VMware Workstation for quite some years and now is the time to step into the world of vSphere and a dedicated server.

The server will be running around 10 Windows XP/7 clients, a Windows Server 2008 and say 6 ubuntu servers for build systems (CI), databases, SCM, DNS, FTP and various utilities.

The Windows clients are mainly for browser testing and need no more than 1GB of RAM. The Windows server is mainly for PDC/AD and I guess 2GB of RAM would be adequate.

I do development at my own physical workstation.

I have a budget of around 2.500€ and so far this is what I've found to be a good investment.

Basic Hardware

Motherboard: ASUS Z8PE-D18 (~500€) http://www.asus.com/Server_Workstation/Server_Motherboa... This board is on the Whitebox list.

CPU: 2 x Intel Xeon E5530 8 MB Cache (~300€/CPU) http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?spec=SLBF7

RAM: 6 * 8 GB DDR3 Kingston ValueRAM 1066MHz CL7 (~530€) Can't figure out whether it's ECC or not but the motherboard supports both according to Asus.

This would give me support for Hyperthreading and 64 bit. I'd love to hear any thoughts on my choice of hardware.

Storage

Here I am at a loss. I have never tried to setup RAID but I would like to have a mirrored solution. The VMs does not require much space so I am fine with 4TB in RAID 1 and 8TB in RAID 1 is absolutely enough for starters.

I have been told that with modern motherboards RAID on SATA is about just as good as SCSI. Should I just connect the HDs to the motherboard or is it better with some external solution like a NAS? Is there any special requirements for the disk in order for them to run the VMs optimal? Do they support VMwares own FS and is it advisable to use this over regular FAT/EXT (or whatever the default is). Which disks would you recommend that I use?

Network

The Asus board have 2 x 1GB NICs which I guess is good enough. My network consist of only 2 physical machines - the VMware server and my workstation, a switch and a WAN router. Should I take anything special into consideration reagarding network?

vSphere

Kind of hard to figure out which license to buy from the VMware website. From what I understand I can make due with the "VMware vSphere Essentials Kit" which for my country is roughly 400€. This gives me a license for "vSphere License for 3 Dual-CPU servers & vCenter Server for Essential". This would cover my single dual-CPU server which have 4 cores each. Would you agree that this is the right choice or me?

July 1, 2011 10:44:25 AM

If you're going to be spending this much on a system get a Dell Precision or something where you can get the proper support.
July 1, 2011 1:20:54 PM

Do you have any specific Dell Precision model in mind? Browsing their website I don't really see anything that compares on the same price level with this amount of RAM and dual CPUs
!