Documenting a virtualization project

Experiences in Virtualization

The budget: get the specs right

Posted by martijnl on June 30, 2006

Explaining the expense for the necessary hardware for a virtualization project can be a bit tricky because of the “supersizing” that you need to do. In our situation it meant explaining the difference between buying a regular two-way Intel Xeon based IBM XSeries 346 or HP Proliant DL380 (which for us do about € 5000 to € 7000 depending on specs) and buying a set of four way AMD Opteron based HP Proliant DL 585’s (which cost roughly € 25000 a piece in the specification that we need).

It all begins with getting the specifications of what you need right.

What we did was ask alot and listen carefully. We already knew how to size the systems that we have for their specific tasks so based on that knowledge we started asking other companies also thinking about virtualization how they were sizing their environment and we also started looking carefully at the current utilization of our servers.

One conclusion that stood out (at Cisco as well as at Capgemini and from our own internal VMWare consultant) was that everyone was looking at or already working with AMD Opteron CPU’s. Which made our life a whole lot easier because only* HP and Sun currently have models with a four-way Opteron configuration in their portfolio (*there are other suppliers, but because of purchasing policies I had to leave them out of the comparison)

HP DL585Because we used HP already the choice was clear: Proliants DL585 it had to be. Apart from the advantage in horsepower that the Opteron has over the Intel Xeon it is also much more energy efficient and a lot less noisy. Anecdote: Visiting a trade show we could have a normal conversation with a sales rep from a server retailer standing right next to an open Opteron box. We regularly have Xeon boxes open in our room and a normal conversation is pretty impossible then.

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