[Dell PowerEdge R710] To Virtualize or Not to Virtualize?

To Virtualize or Not to Virtualize?, that is the question! Yesterday I received my “maxed out” (in quotes because this configuration maxed out my budget) Dell PowerEdge R710 with the following configuration:

1 x PE R710 with Chassis for Up to 8, 2.5-Inch Hard Drives and Intel 56XX Processors
1 x 8GB Memory (8x1GB), 1333MHz Single Ranked UDIMMs for 2 Processors, Advanced ECC
1 x Embedded Broadcom, GB Ethernet NICS with TOE
1 x Intel Xeon E5620 2.4Ghz, 12M Cache,Turbo, HT, 1066MHz Max Mem
1 x Intel Xeon E5620 2.4Ghz, 12M Cache,Turbo, HT, 1066MHz Max Mem
1 x PERC H200 Integrated RAID Controller, x8
1 x iDRAC6 Express
1 x DVD ROM, SATA, INTERNAL
1 x Bezel
1 x Riser with 2 PCIe x8 + 2 PCIe x4 Slot
1 x Dell Management Console
1 x Energy Smart Power Supply Non-Redundant, 570W
2 x 146GB 15K RPM Serial-Attach SCSI 6Gbps 2.5in Hotplug Hard Drive
1 x Power Cord, NEMA 5-15P to C13, 15 amp, wall plug, 10 feet / 3 meter

This machine will easily replace about four P3’s and P4’s combined. However, I am trying to decide weather to install on the bare metal:

  • Solaris + VirtualBox
  • VMWare ESXi
  • OracleVM
  • Or something-or-the-other

Since I plan to hook-up a Five-Bay Caddy to this thing for additional storage, I am leaning towards the latest version of Solaris + VirtualBox to take advantage of ZFS. I have about four unused 1TB SATA drives that I plan to use in a AMS VENUS T5C DS-2350C 5-Bay SATA RAID Sub-System. I read the SIIG controllers plays nice with Solaris.

What I really wanted in this package was the “iDRAC Enterprise” and not the “iDRAC Express”, which I think should be standard with all the enterprise servers. Why? The iDRAC Express is childs-play! The fact that one cannot have a remote console to administer their machine kinda makes the iDRAC Express useless! Of course you can get power usage information, restart the system, but that information can be had from the OS itself! The essence of a remote management utility of to be able to remotely machine your system without being in front of the machine. I was not willing to shell out the extra cash for the iDRAC Enterprise, so be it! Overall I am happy with my purchase and while I do not have a server-rack the system was light enough to place on top of metal shelving. The fan/noise is tolerable considering a server of this size. Much, much quieter than the Sun X4100 (1U) and X4200 (2U) machines we have at work.

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