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Please don't shoot me down here, our company are relocating to a small office with no room for our 3 existing Dell rack servers and cabinet. Budget is tight as a ...well its tight, about £1100 so I'm trying to squeeze a dell PowerEdge T410 and then stick Hyper_v 2008 hypervisor on there to allow me 3 guest VMs.

Guest VM 1 will be Server 2003 32 bit running AD & Exchange 2003 [I know!]. Only 11GB Exchange database and 40 AD users.

Guest VM 2 is Server 2000 running BES & Sage, again not a big resource, only 22 Blackbverry & 1 Sage user.

Guest VM 3 is Server 2003 appliance center as a NAS device, total of 300GB files currently.

My budget server will be:

Processor: Intel Xeon E5504, 4C, 2.00Ghz, 4M Cache, 4.80GT/s, 80W TDP, Memory runs at 800MHz

Memory: 8GB Memory for 1 CPU, DDR3, 1333MHz (4x2GB Dual Ranked RDIMMs)

Raid Connectivity: C4 Cabled - RAID 1 with PERC H200, 2 SAS/SATA Cabled HDDs

1st Hard Drive - Multiquantity: 2 x 500GB, SATA, 3.5-in, 7.2K RPM Hard Drive (Cabled))

2 x NICs & 2 x Power Supply

My queries:

1 - is RAID 1 OK for my set-up, would RAID 5 be more suited to virtualisation.

2 - I will be backing up all VMs to an external USB drive for offsite backup, this I guess will give me a quick restore should any VM suffer software issues / wont boot etc

3 - One of my current servers is RAID5, am I OK to go p2v on this even though the host wont be RAID5?. Its also 32 bit but I am sure that will run as VM on 64 bit VM host?

4 - Anyone know of more suitable hardware than the Dell for this purpose, needs to run quite as will be in main office?

Many thanks.

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In a "value is king" scenario, you might want to consider buying no hard drives from Dell and adding a pair of 2TB SATA drives separately. Hitachi's 0F10311 works well with PERC 5 and 6 controllers (no personal experience with H200) and costs less than US$130 (looks like 115 pounds on – Skyhawk Jun 30 '10 at 17:05
I would have big problems with running Exchange on the same VM as a domain controller. Why is it a problem breaking out the DC into it's own VM? Realize Exchange 2003 with AD in the same OS instance makes Exchange less resilient, and it will be far more difficult to break them up later if needed. You also can't optimize RAM properly with E2K3 when running on a DC, such as the /3GB switch. – amargeson Jun 30 '10 at 17:56
  1. R1 would be BETTER than R5 in this situation.
  2. Sounds fine.
  3. Yes, no problem.
  4. I'm not a 'value'-guy I'm afraid but I'm sure someone will step in (most likely suggesting Supermicro who appear to be the current darlings of the VFM guys).

One thing I did notice was that you're looking to buy 4 memory modules for this box - DON'T - that's a triple-channel CPU you're buying - if possible go for 3 x 4GB for a total of 12GB, it'll be much faster. Also if you can afford it go for the E5520 or E5620 - these chips provide hyperthreading which could double your system power for around an extra 10% of cost.

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+1 for the triple-channel memory recommendation. My R710's have 24GB and 48GB for just this reason. – Evan Anderson Jun 30 '10 at 16:05
wait until you see the sandy bridge EX xeon's memory specs and requirements - correct memory layout will be a degree level subject :) – Chopper3 Jun 30 '10 at 16:09
re: #3 - depending on the servers you're virtualizing, be sure to budget yourself some extra time for this process. The older the server, the more hassle I ran into (particularly some of those win2k boxes). – Kara Marfia Jun 30 '10 at 20:06
Hi thanks for answers, some more thinking to do for me I think! Before taking the plunge I installed VMware onto my laptop and created a Windows 2003 server VM to ensure I could actually achieve what is needed. Ran into a problem immediately, the original server is OEM so its asking me to activate again on the VM... For testing purposes am I able to activate by phone, so I can test the solution works? Thanks. – gary Jul 1 '10 at 14:53
I'm not a Windows person sorry - perhaps that's the kind of question that you could search for on here and if it hasn't been asked before would make an interesting separate question? – Chopper3 Jul 1 '10 at 15:03

Your budget is the main problem. My main office server is a non-server micro atx based system (AMD, 4 cores, 10gb RAM), but I am using a hardware Raid (Adaptec 3805) with a Raid 10 for the OS / Hyper-V stuff and a Radi 5 for the files... 8 hard discs in a little cube (all 2.5" - you can get them into two 5.25" slots, even in a SAS backplane).

My main problem ould be disc IO - even with my setup I regularly run into heavy IO issues when all the operating systems are doing things like updates. I would love to go to 16gb memory (which my mobo supports) but my RAID controller blocks it (does not boot with more than 10gb hooked in - damn).

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