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What is the minimum hardware require to run a cloud? Most setups I have seen require high end CPU's and a lot of ram and I mean 4+ Gb of ram. Is there a way to setup a personal cloud on single processors and 1Gb each of ram?

Cloud = Multiple computers acting as one

I am wanting to setup a personal cloud at my house to play with. This is a learning experience and experiment.

Please do not post if all you are going to be negative and discouraging. People learn through questions, trial, and error.

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Please define the term "cloud". –  jscott Nov 30 '10 at 19:48
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If you're asking this question in this way, you shouldn't be doing it. –  mfinni Nov 30 '10 at 19:54
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People learn through clear questions based on valid assumptions and reasonable expectations. If what you are wanting to do does not make sense, you should want someone to 'discourage' you with their answer. –  Andrew Barber Nov 30 '10 at 20:06
    
OK - that's not a cloud. Find a "piece of software" that you want to run on multiple computers, and then ask how to run that. After reading and planning, and maybe even trying. –  mfinni Nov 30 '10 at 20:32
    
Thanks Chris, just was looking if it could be ran on less or not. Most Setups I found required 4Gb for just the master node. If that is what it takes minimum to run then that is what it takes. –  David Nov 30 '10 at 22:55
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

"Cloud" is marketing BS. Generally people expect that there is a cluster of hypervisors running the show, but given that there is no formal definition of 'cloud', it can be just about anything.

The newer CPUs support hypervisor acceleration through several different technologies, so they're generally the most common as you'll get the best performance out of them.

4GB of RAM is not a lot either. My laptop has 4GB. Our smallest hypervisor server has 20GB.

Edit:
If you're looking to learn what the components of a cloud are, start with a free Hypervisor like ESXi, Hyper-V Server, KVM (or QEmu), or Xen. Most of these have fairly lowly hardware requirements so you can can run them on hardware that is several years old.

You will not be able to build a cluster without at least two computer and some shared storage. Shared storage systems are quite expensive normally, but an old computer could be repurposed for learning with FreeNAS or a similar package to get iSCSI running. FibreChannel is most commonly used by "Cloud" providers, but it's very expensive (though older equipment can be found on eBay for reasonable prices).

It's technically possible to run some hypervirosors within other hypervisors (though not advisable), so you could simulate the whole thing on a single piece of hardware. This would be used to get an idea of what the setup requires, though it's going to be horribly slow.

Edit 2:
Apologies if some of us come across harsh. Your asking about systems which are 100x more complex than most people understand (or give credit for). It'd be something akin to asking how you can build a replica of the Titanic on your swimming pool. There's a lot to it, and "it" isn't a well defined set of requirement or standards to top it all off.

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+1. I usually explain "cloud" to people as "computers on the internet". –  Jed Daniels Nov 30 '10 at 20:07
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Reality check:

Most setups I have seen require high end CPU's and a lot of ram and I mean 4+ Gb of ram.

4+gb RAM is not "a lot". it is "mid end workstation". The crappy computer I got for my office work at the customer I am at the moment has 3gb RAM. Proper development requires 4+ GB ram. I suggest you assume CURRENT hardware, not the stuff from 5 years ago when you talk of "a lot of". 16gb is "not a lot" for a server.

Is there a way to setup a personal cloud on single processors and 1Gb each of ram?

What for? Sorry to say but it would be financially unsound as hell - PLACE costs money, ELECTRICITY costs money. Smal lservers are inefficient. Plus, what you want to run with 1gb RAM? 2 small mini virtual machines per physical server?

I am wanting to setup a personal cloud at my house to play with. This is a learning experience and experiment.

Get a decent computer or two. That would blow the hell out of your setup. That would be a single processor, 6 core as current higher end for gaming, and 8 to 16gb RAM. Different ballpark.

Seriously, NONE of the computers in my company (including small workstations) is as low powered than the stuff you want to run that on, and that includes workstations purchased 2 years ago (the oldest machines we still use).

Cloud server wise - but I agree this is a lot to pay for just for learning - I use 64gb RAM machines these days, unless I have applications that run outside due to high CPU low memory constraints (mostly data analysis) - not a commercial / public cloud, though.

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What on earth are you running that requires 64GB of ram? –  TheLQ Jun 24 '11 at 20:44
    
You are joking? In my world 64gb is small. One image is a 16gb SQL Server, and that is challenged - will get it's own 64gb hardware this year. Then a couple of virtual workstations, trading applications, hosting infrastructure for some websites. 64gb is not a lot the moment you put some load onto things. I know database servers with 256+gb memory. –  TomTom Jun 25 '11 at 10:50
    
When you said "64GB RAM Machines", I thought you meant desktop comps, not full servers. Oh and sorry for reviving this old question, I didn't realize how old it was when I commented. –  TheLQ Jun 25 '11 at 17:02
    
Well, workstations in my company have anywhere between 4 and 16gb ram these days ;) But for 64gb you need server boards. 32gb is the max you can put on a normal workstation board and this is newest just coming out generation (amd wise). –  TomTom Jun 25 '11 at 17:34
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As interesting as this discussion is, none of this particularly rings as 'cloud' to me. Although I'm well aware the definition is not set, cloud implies to me pay-as-you-go virtualization on the internet manageable via API. The whole point is scaling up and down on demand, only paying what you use, and letting someone else worry about the hardware.

In the extreme form, you build a highly-available self-healing auto-scaling infrastructure on virtual machines that could fail at any moment.

Although some will disagree with me, it's my opinion that you don't buy a cloud. Concepts like a 'private cloud' are flawed. That's just a datacenter with virtualization. You're still paying up-front. Nothing wrong with building a cloud-like setup on your own hardware, but it's a different beast. Have a look at Eucalyptus, Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud, Openstack for things like this. Great way to get familiar with the technology and to test stuff out.

David appears to want regular 'old school' virtualization on consumer hardware. Many systems provide this. For example, VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, XenServer for the more serious testing. VMware Player, VMware Workstation, Virtualbox, Xen, KVM of you just want to test it on your desktop computer.

For example, I'm currently modeling a clustering environment by using Vagrant and Puppet to automatically build Virtualbox servers on my laptop. Good enough for figuring stuff out.

Don't go buying expensive hardware though to test cloud setups. Just set up a few actual cloud servers at Amazon EC2 or Rackspace and kill them when you're done. Should cost you just a few Euros/Dollars and you're actually testing The Real Thing.

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