Sunday, December 07, 2008

My ESX 3.5 lab on the cheap.

After doing a bit of research online i decided to settle for 2 HP d530 computers rather than building a quad core Intel computer (as some websites i visited suggested)and it did prove a wise choice too.
Both computers combined cost me less than $300 complete with 300GB HDD and 4GB ram each compared to over $600 for just the Quad core processors and supporting motherboard.

I have Vmware ESX 3.5 installed on both machines already and performance is unbelievably stable and reliable, i am able to manage both machines via VI client via wireless link. The ESX servers are tucked away in a room connected to an APC UPS, a gigabyte switch connected to an Apple time capsule for internet and wifi access. They both run headless, no monitors, no mouse, no keyboards , just power and network connections.

Since am currently studying for both a 2008 Server exam and the VCP exam, this is going to be like killing two birds with one stone.
Already have a 2008 domain setup on one of the ESX boxes complete with the new server core installations, DNS, AD, DHCP WDS and i plan to make the best use of my new d530s.

If you haven't been able to make up your mind on what machine to get to run your ESX test lab(Note that i said test lab), if budget and power consumption is also a major factor to consider then you can't go wrong with this babies. I have been able to run 5 VMs on each box so far with acceptable performance. I had my reservations too but now am sold.

One huge challenge i thought i might face was getting the hardware, with ebay and other websites not accepting Nigerian activities on their site, it was going to be a battle. For a brand new system i could easily have worked up to a local HP rep and picked up the equipments but not this D530s, first and foremost they are pretty old, dating back to the days of Pentium 4. (Lol!!, i say that like it was some decade ago.My set came standard with 40gb IDE hdd, 512 ram and a 2.6 HT processor. So i had to swap the drive for a Sata drive, upgrade the ram and that was all.)
So off i was to the local computer village to begin a bargain hunt, luckily for me, i found a very large consignment of them just waiting for me, nobody was buying them, the dealer was only too happy to let me have them. They were in perfect condition and to be honest i would have happily paid $300 each for them but i wasn't about to tell him that.
I had them tested, 2 blew up in the process( the dealer had forgotten to regulate the power to 220v , which is what we use in Nigeria) but we eventually found 2 mint looking ones which had been properly regulated, i opened them up, pulled out both HDD and memory modules and traded them for 2GB of ram. (I wasn't about to take 2 40GB HDD and 512mb modules back home to add to my clutter of IT junk).

Once home i installed the HDDs and ram i had sitting around, connected the power cord, monitor, keyboard and mouse, popped in the cd and voila, clean boot.

Installation was complete in less than 10 minutes. No issues at all.

I will find time to write a more detailed breakdown of what am doing( Hopefully) Right now am just too excited everything works straight out of the box, fully supported.

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