15 September 2011

one thing definitely leads to another

Funny how an innocent conversation can snowball into something big. And by 'big' I of course mean Martin buying more electronic gadgets and crap.

First some history. I have a lot of computers in our basement. They are ALL really old and they use a lot of electricity.

Almost a year ago I was talking to a friend about virtualization. We both work in IT (in the same office actually) and as virtualization was blowing up we were both saying how it would be great if we had an environment at home that we could play with.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and said friend is helping me shop for hardware to do just that.

We started looking seriously when I saw this article here in Maximum PC:

http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/build_it_340_ultra-budget_box

Talk about low budget! And this computer is still very capable. And it's relatively energy efficient. If you go with a less expensive case and add as much RAM as possible (16 GB without spending the bank on the motherboard) you end up with a perfectly fine, 64-bit, quad-core computer that can host up to seven virtual machines.

Add another identical computer and you have redundancy and the ability to fail them all over to perform hardware maintenance, etc.

But what about storage? You don't want to store the VMs on the physical computer that is hosting them because that 1) makes the virtual host more expensive and 2) makes your environment less redundant. The solution which was proposed by my friend was to get this.

Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 Cloud Edition

ix2_200_out_large

In case you did not know, Iomega was purchased by EMC and so this baby is certified for just about every kind of storage and protocol you can think of. Including all the features that come with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 which is what I will be using.

The ix2-200 has two drive bays and I will put 1 TB drives in each running RAID 1 (more redundancy!). Since I'm trying to go green the power saving features were really attractive and the street price is just $200.

The coolest thing is that for under $1,000 total cost (including tax and shipping) I will be able to swap six inefficient machines (some of which are not 64-bit compatible) for two efficient ones, upgrade all my servers to the latest versions of Windows (which requires 64-bit compatible hardware), save a lot of electricity and ditch a ton of clutter and associated hardware (KVM, extra monitor, etc.).

Can you say 'project'…? Oh yes. I'm looking forward to this one.

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