Network infrastructure assistance

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Fearsoldier
Posts: 17
Joined: 2009/07/05 22:51:33

Network infrastructure assistance

Post by Fearsoldier » 2010/03/02 19:25:04

Alright, I just want to start off saying that any insight that anyone shares will be extremely helpful, just looking for any assistance at all as of right now.

I am affiliated with a small hosting company. Five racks of server space in a reputable datacenter with two racks leased to a customer. To be blunt about it, our network has severely fallen behind the times. Security is fine, twin watchguard firewalls in High Availability. We also have a good backup system with twin backup servers at 6TB each using Symantec BackupExec. However, our server equipment isn't really doing the job anymore.

We support Linux (Centos 5+) and Windows (Server 2003 and 2008) servers for both shared hosting and dedicated machines. We have servers that are worth keeping and we'd like to reuse but need to move off data from older servers. Before we made any major moves we wanted to reconsider our infrastructure. The scalability currently doesn't look good, and us pushing new servers into crowded racks makes for more of a problem.

One of the ideas we had was for a diskless boot system. I've worked with it before and can easily get a system in place to handle our shared and dedicated Linux machines with either a dedicated datastore server or a SAN. It still leaves us with Windows servers being the same and with matched quantities of servers, I'm not sure it would be worth it. If we could get a system to boot diskless Windows servers also I think that would be the route to go. With the amount of money we spend in drives alone a year we could re-invest in some much needed equipment. Also, disaster recovery looks very promising with diskless systems considering the state is held in the datastore instead of the server.

Virtualization has also crossed the board too; however, the funds just aren't there. Between the capacity servers and software we just can't afford to make that leap yet.

If anyone has any experience in this line of administration or just any insight at all it would be great to hear it. Thanks in advance.

pschaff
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Network infrastructure assistance

Post by pschaff » 2010/03/02 23:28:19

Diskless in my book is more appropriate for lightweight end-user terminals than servers. Not sure why you consider [url=http://wiki.centos.org/HowTos/Virtualization]Virtualization[/url] to be something unaffordable. There are a number of both free and reasonably-priced options.

Fearsoldier
Posts: 17
Joined: 2009/07/05 22:51:33

Re: Network infrastructure assistance

Post by Fearsoldier » 2010/03/03 01:48:51

Well it's more the hardware aspect of it. Like I said, the equipment we have now isn't up to virtualization standards and getting a server even worth touching for virtualization costs at least $15,000. We were just looking to utilize what we have now, just in a different approach. And you're absolutely right, diskless is more of a workstation category than any other, just the way I had centos machines booting off of it and the speed made it more appealing is all.

pschaff
Retired Moderator
Posts: 18276
Joined: 2006/12/13 20:15:34
Location: Tidewater, Virginia, North America
Contact:

Re: Network infrastructure assistance

Post by pschaff » 2010/03/03 15:19:57

Apparently your taste in servers is a lot richer than mine. :-) One can put together what I consider a reasonable system for virtualization for an order of magnitude less, but won't debate whether it is "worth touching" for your purposes. I'd be prone to go with more smaller systems and get redundancy, rather than one "killer" box, but then I don't understand your environment.

Fearsoldier
Posts: 17
Joined: 2009/07/05 22:51:33

Re: Network infrastructure assistance

Post by Fearsoldier » 2010/03/05 16:50:53

So I took your advice about virtualization and took an unused 2U server, quad-core AMD AMD-V compatible, 8Gigs DDR2 RAM with 6x 320GB satas in a raid-6, Adaptec 3805 8 port SATA II card.

I thought it'd be the perfect machine to start off with, three or four machines, plenty of space, nice power. I installed ESXi and connected up to it with the free vSphere client that comes with it. I started an install of a Windows 2008 Server. It pretty much choked on the install, it took hours to complete and once it was done it took while to start up. When I use the VM, the process load on the server is up at 60-70% and this is only one server.

This is why I thought that virtualization was all about resource hefty servers and expensive software. This server cost about $1,400 to build excluding the drives. The operating system on the physical machine runs amazingly, fast, handles heavy loads, etc. I just can't understand why it bogs using VMs.

I also tried installing Windows Server 2008 R2 on the physical machine and installing VMWare server and it's still the same thing.

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