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Does anyone have any experiences to share with the possibility of running 50-60 instances of VirtualboxHeadless instances (512 MB - 1 GB of RAM each) on a single beefy server?

I read that VirtualBox can take advantage of VT extensions in the CPU if enabled -- which I'm sure would help improve performance.

In a way, it's a lot like using it the way XenServer would typically be used.

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How much disk IO do you expect each guest to use? Storage can be more of a bottleneck in these cases than CPU. –  Dana the Sane Aug 30 '11 at 21:11
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

50-60 Virtual Machines is a very high amount to be running on one server. While I would be interested in seeing the performance of the machines I would think the I/O of the disk would make the machines very painful to use. I personally woudln't try to run more than 10 VMs on a single host, and currently run 5 VMs on a single medium-spec server. Of course it depends what that VMs would be doing but I would prefer two or three lower-spec servers running in a cluster.

What I would say to do it (if possible) run benchmarks on the server running 5/10/15 VMs and see if you think it would affect the performace or is worthwile.

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Well then how do places like Linode do it where they stick 30+ people on one machine? –  SolarisDude Aug 30 '11 at 22:25
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They would use a cluster of many machines with a bare-metal hypervisor solution such as VMWare ESXi for load-balancing and fault-tolerance. What happens if your solo "beefy server" dies one day with 50 running VMs with customer's (or your critical) VMs on? You'll end up sued, in legal trouble, and probably out of a job. There are many tools for Virtulisation, VirtualBox is just one of them. –  tombull89 Aug 30 '11 at 22:34
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It depends on what the machines are doing. It might work if you have a really good SAN link or if these are very low-load instances (most of them are idle most of the time), but I can't see performance being good if they all get busy at about the same time.

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I doubt he would have a good - and costly - SAN plugged into the above defined no-budget Virtualbox solution. Virtualbox's full virtualization is just an unnecessary 15-30% resource overhead here, multiplied by 50 times. For this amount of VMs a hypervisor solution will be better. –  karatedog Aug 31 '11 at 1:22
    
True on the hypervisor, but he didn't say no budget... he said "beefy", and when I hear that I picture a machine with enough oomph to at least dedicate a full GB to each instance. –  Joel Coel Aug 31 '11 at 1:54
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