Help me with proposal for VCP5 lab computer

MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
First I'll give a little background on my problem. I got hooked up with a Veteran Affairs program that will provide training towards IT certifications which should lead to employment. They've paid for my classes and exams for certifications. They also got me a part time job under a six month contract doing web development with the expectation that I will continue my self study during that time. I mentioned several times that while the classes and work experience is exceedingly helpful what I really need to improve my chances of passing my tests is access to some hardware for practice. I have computers, lots of them, but none that meet the hardware requirements for VMWare ESXi 5.

I believe I've convinced my counselor of the need for a computer but I'll still need to convince him, and whomever he reports to, that a particular computer is a good fit before they loosen their purse strings to buy it for me. I have a pretty good idea of what I need but I need to convince the people at the VA of this. What I need is a reputable source describing what would make for a good VCP5 lab computer. What makes a reputable source? I'm not sure but I suspect people certified to teach the VCP5 certification class, professors or instructors at a college or trade school that teach computer virtualization, vendors of the VCP5 software and hardware, people experienced in this line of work, or something like that.

Having done proposals like this before (not with the VA but similar situations in work and college) I found that there are a few "rules" to follow. I need to keep it simple for them. I also need to make this a low risk proposal. That means I can't show up with a list of computer parts from six different suppliers that I claim can be assembled into a working VCP 5 lab. They will need to be able to verify quickly that what I show them will be able to do what I claim it can do.

What I also want to avoid is going too far out of what is supported by the suppliers. One thing is that while VMWare does not give fully explicit support to running ESXi inside a virtual environment there is an understanding that this is common practice and there is more than an implicit support with this by there being an ESXi option in the setup menus on their desktop virtualization products. Another example is that there are many computers out there that will support more memory than what the vendor claims. If I say want to put 16GB of RAM in a computer that the vendor claims only supports 8GB then that creates a risk and complexity. I can show that such a configuration would work but I expect such a proposal to be denied because of that risk and complexity.

Another "rule" I figured out is that I need to provide them with a choice. I can't just go there with a proposal listing a single computer and expect them to accept that. They are likely going to want to see a handful of choices with a short list of pros and cons for each. Too many choices will overwhelm them and get me denied, too few and they'll tell me I need to do more research.

To simplify my proposal I'm thinking of a "grid" of platforms and price points. There's laptop, desktop, and "rack" or group of computers for platforms. For price points I'm thinking $1000+, $2000+, and $3000+. My research tells me that a good starting point for a lab is a computer with an Intel i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and SSD. I'll vary a bit up or down around this for the different places on my grid but that is where I'm leaning. My counselor seems to like the idea of a laptop but I'm not so sure. I'm not sure how much they will be willing to spend but a laptop capable of running a VCP5 lab is probably going to be pricey. They might be willing to buy a $4000 laptop for me but I'll provide other options in case they aren't.

There's all kinds of web pages showing success in building VCP5 labs. Where I need help is in sorting through all these to find the one's written nicely and by people the counselors at the VA would consider a reputable source. These counselors are intelligent but not computer savvy. They got masters degrees and many years of work experience but they were HR managers, military officers, paralegals, and similar. They might not know anything about the software I'm trying to run but I suspect their BS detectors are finely tuned.

I want to avoid discussing the specific requirements too much, there's plenty of threads on that already but I'm sure we'll have to spend some time on that. I went through some of that above since I know it's quite possible to create a VCP5 lab computer real cheap with pieces and parts that are surplus, discount, used, and so on when combined with some elbow grease but I don't believe that will go over real well. I really want to focus on making my argument with citations from people readily recognized as knowledgeable on the subject for a solution that is simple, low risk, and cost effective.
MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.

Comments

  • dave330idave330i Posts: 2,091Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    2018 Certification Goals: Maybe VMware Sales Cert
    "Simplify, then add lightness" -Colin Chapman
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    dave330i wrote: »

    I'm not looking for a list of compatible hardware, at least not only that. I'm looking for people. I'm looking for someone that is readily recognizable as an expert in the field to verify what I know so I can create a proposal backed with citations.

    I know that to create a VCP5 lab I'll need to create a network that contains at least two ESXi 5 servers, at least one other server to provide file and other services, and a management computer. I know I can emulate these with a single computer running Windows 7, VMWare Workstation 8, an Intel i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and a 250GB SSD. I know that the hardware requirements beyond what I listed is relatively unimportant since everything else will be emulated and/or abstracted.

    Now what I need is a recent article written by someone that knows the subject and was printed in a trade magazine. Perhaps a syllabus for a VCP 5 course listing the hardware used in the lab portion of the class, a class offered at a certified tech school. I'm not sure what I'm looking for but I'll know it when I see it.

    The problem I've had in searching the internet for this is that there are all kinds of people that have advice on creating a VCP 5 lab but without being able to demonstrate that these people know what they are talking about then I'm not going to get very far. I can certainly use the ESXi 5 HCL to show the computer, or computers, I've picked out will support the software but that is only a fraction of the problem. The main problem is justifying the expense, reaching a happy medium between overly frugal dumpster diving for discarded servers and the luxury and expense of enterprise level hardware.

    There's also a lot of old articles out there. Searching for VCP lab examples can turn up a lot of web pages that are well written and so on but also irrelevant because they are using ESXi version 4, not version 5.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • MentholMooseMentholMoose Senior Member Posts: 1,550Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    The VMware KB explains that you can run ESXi as a VM under Workstation for testing purposes:
    VMware KB: Support for running ESX/ESXi as a nested virtualization solution

    You might be able to find something published in a magazine if you search Google, but you can definitely find many blog articles. Almost every blog has an "about" page explaining the background of the author, or you can just search Google or LinkedIn for their name. I found a few that might be reputable enough for you with a quick search:

    Jase's Place » Nested vSphere Lab in VMware Workstation – Faster/Affordable/Portable Storage Alternative - vExpert (an award given out annually by VMware), co-author of multiple VMware-related books
    Run VMware ESX on a Desktop PC Using VMware Workstation - vExpert
    VMware Training and Certification: Building a vSphere home lab for VCP/VCAP-DCA preparation - vExpert, instructor, VMware employee
    MentholMoose
    LFCE - MCITP: EDA7, VA, SA, EA - MCSA:S 2003 - CCA (PVS 5, XD 3 / 4 / 5, XS 5 / 6) - VCP 4 / 5
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    The VMware KB explains that you can run ESXi as a VM under Workstation for testing purposes:
    VMware KB: Support for running ESX/ESXi as a nested virtualization solution

    That's very helpful, thanks. It's straight from VMware so this should be good. It doesn't say exactly what I want to hear but that's my problem. I was hoping for something a bit more supportive of running ESXi in a virtual environment.
    You might be able to find something published in a magazine if you search Google, but you can definitely find many blog articles. Almost every blog has an "about" page explaining the background of the author, or you can just search Google or LinkedIn for their name. I found a few that might be reputable enough for you with a quick search:

    Jase's Place » Nested vSphere Lab in VMware Workstation – Faster/Affordable/Portable Storage Alternative - vExpert (an award given out annually by VMware), co-author of multiple VMware-related books
    Run VMware ESX on a Desktop PC Using VMware Workstation - vExpert
    VMware Training and Certification: Building a vSphere home lab for VCP/VCAP-DCA preparation - vExpert, instructor, VMware employee

    You are certainly right that there are plenty of blog articles out there. The problem lies in that most of the one's I've found don't have much for contact information. These people will claim to have all kinds of certifications and years of experience but without a name, phone number, and address, this is almost impossible to verify. I don't blame these people for withholding such information, I value my privacy as well. It's just that without some ability to verify these claims then it's the words of just some random guy on the internet.

    I have not found anything recent from a magazine in my Google searching. There must be someone out there that wrote an article that a magazine felt fit to print. Any suggestions on what magazines to look for?

    I was hoping to find a school of some sort that would offer some help on this but I realized I should not be surprised in coming up empty. These places make money by selling information, if they give it away free then they make no money.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 2,091Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    vExpert list from VMware: VMware Communities: vExpert Directory vExpert Directory. Gives you their name, web/blog addy, etc.
    2018 Certification Goals: Maybe VMware Sales Cert
    "Simplify, then add lightness" -Colin Chapman
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    Something today reminded me of a comment the VA counselor made, he said something about buying the software I needed but I replied that it's unlikely that I'd need to buy any as everything I'd need should be free (as in beer). It might not be free to use indefinitely but time limited evaluation/education licenses are available. I also pointed out that this software is likely to be very expensive, this is server level stuff that one just does not pick up off the shelf at Best Buy.

    I suspect this question will come up again so I feel I should prepare for it. I think I have a good set of sources to point out that the software is available for free. I think I should be able to provide a list of the software needed and an estimate of the cost. I'll be doing my own research on this but if any of you have such information at hand I'd appreciate it if you'd answer a few questions.

    Here's what I think I'd need to know... Other than the ESXi software itself what software is required? To lab out all the features of vSphere I'll need a Windows server of some sort, is there any thing else? Where do I go to get some quotes on the purchase of this software? Again, this isn't the sort of stuff one finds on the shelf at Best Buy. Can an individual even buy all this stuff?

    I also want to go on a little rant. I was surfing around for some small servers to use in building my lab and the websites that these vendors build are just horrible. They'll allow for options on stuff I don't care about (like offer 16 different processors to choose from) but not allow for the options that I do care about (such as offer four different hard drive configurations but there is no option for SSD or no drive at all). Some of these sites will tell me the processor model, down to the Intel part number, but they don't tell me how many cores that processor has. Sure, I can go to Intel and look that up but with a list of 16 processors to choose from that would take forever. With server class hardware I'd think that the ability to support virtual machines would be a very important feature but they don't list if the processor has VT or not all the time.

    These sites will let me search on servers based on form factor, or on the model line, but not let me search based on support for vSphere 5. There's almost always have a stupid pop-up window to chat with a "technical support representative" but when I ask them a question they never know the answer. Perhaps these two issues are related because the first question I'll ask is which servers support vSphere 5.

    Part of the problem is that there are so many choices. These people won't give a price until I can tell them if I want the E1280 or the E1290v2 processor or if I want a hard drive from MegaSuper Inc. or from SuperMega LLC. I. Just. Don't. Care. The price difference between these two is often a matter of pennies but they still allow people to specify these computers down to the minutest detail, details that just don't matter. With 16 different options for processors, 12 different options for memory, four different options for drives (multiply that by the four drive bays), six different options for power supplies, and so on and so on there has to be literally a million different configurations just under one model number. Some of these places will even ask if I want the power cord and plastic front plate included or if I want them to toss it in the bin for me.

    I think I need a beer.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • pseniorpsenior Posts: 28Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    If I were in your shoes, I'd talk to a VMWare instructor or school that gives VMWare courses. Find out what kind of hardware they use when they run the labs during the class, and go with that.

    Buying servers can be a pain; have you tried dealing with CDW? I have never dealt with them personally but I read good things about them on reddit.com/r/sysadmin.
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    psenior wrote: »
    If I were in your shoes, I'd talk to a VMWare instructor or school that gives VMWare courses. Find out what kind of hardware they use when they run the labs during the class, and go with that.

    Buying servers can be a pain; have you tried dealing with CDW? I have never dealt with them personally but I read good things about them on reddit.com/r/sysadmin.

    At the end of the VCP course the instructor did go over the hardware they had for the labs and his own personal setup. Since the labs were built to support dozens of people at a time, and this guy does VCP instruction for a living, the hardware they had was massive. Not quite a good example to go from I'd believe. I lost the instructor's e-mail but I tripped over it again today under this pile on my desk. I'll e-mail him shortly.

    I took a quick look at the CDW web site and it does seem a bit better than most. I'll have to poke around there some more.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • MentholMooseMentholMoose Senior Member Posts: 1,550Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    MacGuffin wrote: »
    Here's what I think I'd need to know... Other than the ESXi software itself what software is required? To lab out all the features of vSphere I'll need a Windows server of some sort, is there any thing else?
    You can use an evaluation of Windows Server. Last I check the eval is good for 180 days which is longer than the 60 days you get with vSphere. If you really want to buy something I'd get a TechNet subscription. A new TechNet Pro subscription is $350 for the first year, $250 for renewals, and would include multiple licenses for pretty much every Microsoft OS and application you might possibly need. I think you're technically supposed to uninstall it after a year if you don't renew your subscription, but it's not time-bombed or anything. By comparison, one license of Server 2008 R2 Standard is $900 ($700 for OEM) on Newegg.
    MentholMoose
    LFCE - MCITP: EDA7, VA, SA, EA - MCSA:S 2003 - CCA (PVS 5, XD 3 / 4 / 5, XS 5 / 6) - VCP 4 / 5
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    Right, a Technet subscription does not change the license rules (evaluation/development only) except it gets rid of the time bomb. I can put that as an option in the proposal, it might fly since I'm also looking to get a Microsoft certification. I've considered other options:

    - Windows Hyper-V Server
    This is Microsofts response to the free ESXi from VMWare. It's basically a Windows server core install with only the Hyper-V role installed. It's intended as a platform for hosting virtual machines but its enough of a Windows operating system that it can do other stuff too. It does not need any license keys to run and it doesn't time bomb.

    - Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate
    This is obviously not a server OS but it would be helpful to have a license or two so that I can run VMWare Workstation, vCenter Server, and other stuff. IIRC the license allows for multiple instances of the OS running inside virtual machines, this could be helpful in the labs.

    - Mac OS X Server
    I already have a Mac that will run this OS and I'll offer a new one as an option in my proposal. Mac OS X Server does NFS, DNS, and all kinds of stuff. I recall the older versions did SQL, Active Directory, and so on but it seems the newer version either removed these features or removed the GUI to them. The price for the software was reduced significantly recently too, now it's around $50. It's cheap enough I might just buy it out of my own pocket.

    - Some sort of Linux OS
    There's Samba, NFSd, mySQL and all kinds of open source stuff to allow for a free (as in speech and as in beer) server OS to be created. A lot of this same software can be hosted on a Mac OS or Windows platform but the Linux kernel is the obvious choice.

    Typically the cost (if any) for this software can be less if bought with the hardware. I can give options but, again, I think I'll need to narrow it down for them so I don't make their eyes glaze over.

    Oh, I found out what the vSphere licenses cost. They start out at $2000 and go up from there. I'll mention that but I'm not expecting them to buy it for me.

    Another thing I noticed is that, as far as I can recall, no one mentions using VMWare Player. Is there a limitation in Player that prevents its use for a VCP lab? I suspect not but people don't use Player since Workstation is cheap, readily available, and has a free evaluation period on par with ESXi itself.

    I downloaded VMWare Player, vCenter Server, and some other software this afternoon. I'll be playing with this stuff over the next few days or weeks to figure out what works and what doesn't.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • jasemccartyjasemccarty Posts: 4Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    If you need to get in touch with me regarding my lab, LMK. You can reach me at @jasemccarty on Twitter or my forum username here at Gmail.

    I've been running VMware since it was in beta in 1998... I could probably (as well as many colleagues) point you at a very low cost environment to get the ball rolling for you.

    Sincerely/Respectfully,
    Jase McCarty, VMware vExpert 09/10/11/12
  • jasemccartyjasemccarty Posts: 4Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    BTW, I have a vSphere 5 lab (servers) page located here: Jase's Place » Home Lab Hosts – Just in time for vSphere 5

    There is a follow-up, where the hosts could have been a little less expensive here: Jase's Place » Home Lab Hosts – Could it have been leaner? ($$$)

    Cheers,
    Jase
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    @jasemccarty
    The links you provided does have some good information on choosing hardware, some of that I could probably use. The problem is that the article is a year old and some of the products you mention are not available any more. If they are available they no longer sell at the price you listed. Also, I'm pretty sure that a proposal for a list of computer parts that I'll assemble myself is not going to go over very well. The goal is to get a computer to get hands on experience with ESXi 5, not learn how to assemble a computer.

    I don't suppose you'd know anyone with a blog that would be willing to write an updated version of your article would you? It'd have to be someone reputable. Perhaps even someone that received the VMWare vExpert award four years in a row. Someone willing to write an article on running a VCP5 lab with an off the shelf computer, not a computer assembled from parts. Preferably an Apple laptop. Would you know anyone like that? ;)

    @all who still give a **** about my proposal
    I printed out a bunch of stuff to make my case. I've got spec sheets, print outs from blogs from people that did something similar before (like jasemccarty), and price quotes for computers. I don't expect them to read all of this but I want to have some reference material handy in case they question any part of my proposal. I believe I'll need to write a summary of what I want and keep it to one or two printed pages. I'm thinking that anything longer than that will either get denied or delayed.

    It will be simple enough to explain the RAM and drive requirements. These people might not be computer experts but they can add. Explaining that I'll need a sum of all the RAM and storage requirements should not need much explanation. I'm still not sure how to explain the processor requirements concisely without too much hand waving.

    I'm thinking I'll propose a MacBook Pro of some sort. I'll give them a few options so that they can decide on how much they want to spend on me. I think that what I need now is some price quotes on comparable hardware from other vendors to show that I'm not trying to rip them off.

    This gets into the rant I gave before. It's been real hard to get a quote on a computer from most of the vendors I've seen. Some places don't specify how many processor cores are in a particular model of computer, or if it supports nested virtualization. They'll tell me all about how this computer comes with the latest anti-virus software, and replaceable color panels, but they make it real hard to find out if it's has a dual or quad core processor. Other important details are also hard to find, like how much RAM the computer will support. How fast is the hard drive? Is that a gigabit ethernet port or just 100bT? Is there an empty drive bay? This is important stuff but most of these vendors make it real hard to find out. I ranted enough about that before so I won't keep going.

    It will be a couple weeks before they'll even take my proposal so I have plenty of time to get this stuff together.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • MentholMooseMentholMoose Senior Member Posts: 1,550Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    If you need to get in touch with me regarding my lab, LMK. You can reach me at @jasemccarty on Twitter or my forum username here at Gmail.
    Whoa, somebody is paying attention to their Google Analytics. I'd say welcome but, uh, you joined in 2004. Though I guess posting for the first time deserves a welcome. :) Maybe I should link some other good blogs to get more activity on the TE virtualization forums. icon_cool.gif
    MentholMoose
    LFCE - MCITP: EDA7, VA, SA, EA - MCSA:S 2003 - CCA (PVS 5, XD 3 / 4 / 5, XS 5 / 6) - VCP 4 / 5
  • jasemccartyjasemccarty Posts: 4Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    @MentholMoose... Google Analytics didn't lead me to the forum, but rather Wordpress...

    @MacGuffin I'm not sure about "parts not available" anymore...
    I just clicked on the links in my first article and every item is available from either NewEgg or Microcenter... As far as an updated post goes... Given that vSphere 5.0 has been out for almost a year, I would imagine that there aren't many new posts out there unless some "cool new" hardware comes out. Obviously there are tons of blogs out there about how to run vSphere 5 on X hardware...

    The big question you have to ask, is do you want a "physical lab" or "virtual lab"? Physical meaning hosts like the above mentioned links, while virtual meaning VMware Workstation/Fusion on top of Windows/Linux/OSX.

    If you want to run everything on top of laptop (physically) you won't be able to use the laptop, from a GUI perspective, but will have to use a second device to access the resources. If you want to actually use the laptop, then you would have to use VMware Workstation/Fusion and run virtualized vSphere hosts. That will require more resources.

    For a laptop solution, you will need to make sure you have enough physical RAM (at least 16GB) and a hard drive (possibly SSD) that is fast enough to handle the I/O. CPU is not the most important, unless you plan on running some resource intensive VMs. My Core i5/8GB RAM/256GB SSD (July 2010) Macbook Pro w/VMware Fusion runs most workloads ok, but more RAM would really put it over the top.

    The nice part of using Workstation/Fusion, is you don't have to worry about Hardware Compatibility for ESXi... When going that route though, you need to make sure that the CPU/board/laptop support all the virtualization features (VT/VT-d for Intel, as well as AMD-V/etc for AMD). Also, with a "general purpose OS" that a laptop brings, provides other uses cases for it. A dedicated physical lab can only be used (for the most part) for a physical lab.

    If you are interested in a physical lab, I'd recommend looking at the VMware HCL (VMware Compatibility Guide: System Search), the VMware Community Forums (VMware Communities: VMware Technology Network (VMTN) for VMware vSphere, VMware vCenter, and VMware product discussions), or Dave Mishchenko's site (Welcome to vm-help.com)... If you plan on using VMware Workstation/Fusion on top of a laptop, the Workstation/Fusion boards on the VMware Community Forums (VMware Communities: VMware Technology Network (VMTN) for VMware vSphere, VMware vCenter, and VMware product discussions) might be a good place to look.

    Good luck.

    Cheers,
    Jase
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    @jasemccarty
    I apologize, I meant to speak generally about part lists for building computers for a VCP5 lab. Your list is still good but most of the others I've seen are not. Generally these part lists have prices that are no longer valid, yours included, and sometimes the parts have been discontinued. With many of these articles over a year old, and getting older everyday, the part lists in them become less relevant to a project being built now.

    You are correct that I have the choice between a physical lab and a virtual lab (what I like to call a "lab-in-a-box") for my proposal. I've found it difficult to get a part list for a physical lab that is even close to the price of a lab-in-a-box. By getting used or refurbished equipment I can do it real cheap but I need to write a proposal with a part list and price that will still be valid when the proposal comes back. The price and availability of used and refurbished equipment changes daily. By building with new equipment the price goes up considerably.

    Even if I could give them a part list and price for used equipment I believe that they'd reject such a proposal as too risky. Used equipment won't have a return policy, technical support, and so on that new equipment does. That's just part of the reason why it's so cheap.

    Since I have no hardware right now that can run ESXi 5 or vCenter Server I cannot leverage my current computers to build a lab. I suppose I could use an old computer as a file server but I'd still need three new computers for the lab. I've found it difficult to find three new computers as cheap as getting one new computer.

    As you point out a laptop lab-in-a-box would be very useful for other tasks. Even a desktop lab-in-a-box would be more useful to me since I can leverage a single computer to other tasks more easily than three physically separate computers. Also, as you stated, I'd avoid any issues of unsupported hardware with a virtual environment. It's because of this I'm going to include a new MacBook Pro in my proposal.

    One problem I've had is in finding laptops of any brand that (officially) support 16GB of RAM except the newly introduced MacBook Pro with Retina Display. If anyone can point out a laptop that has 16GB RAM, and a VT capable processor, I'd really appreciate it. I suspect that the price of the MacBook Pro might raise a few questions so I'll need to show a non-Apple solution for comparison and as a possible alternative.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • cyumuscyumus Posts: 2Registered Users ■■■□□□□□□□
    Look for a refurbished Dell M6600 laptop on either Ebay or Dell Outlet Center. Not only it comes with the full 3-year warranty, but you can also install
    up to 32GB of RAM and 2 additional hard drives. I recently got mine for around $1300 on the one with i7-2820, then installed 32GB of RAM and Crucial
    256 GB SSD, man, this thing is faster than my current workstation HP Z800 in handling all those virtual environment.icon_thumright.gif
  • jasemccartyjasemccarty Posts: 4Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    @MacGuffin,

    No disrespect taken. To be honest, you could start small and grow. Here's an example:

    Dell PowerEdge T110 II
    http://www.dell.com/us/soho/p/poweredge-t110-2/fs

    It starts at $399 (albeit I'd upgrade the processor to at least an i3-2100) and I'd add some aftermarket RAM (possibly from Crucial.com, where they guarantee the RAM will work).

    The T110 II is on the VMware HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) located here: http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl/

    If you put 16GB of RAM in it, you can run ESXi, with vCenter on top of it, and leverage the local storage. It isn't going to be the best, but it isn't grossly expensive.

    Using today's pricing:
    $399 for the T110 II
    $129 upgrade to the i3-2100
    $83 each for 2 8GB kits (2x4GB)

    Total cost (minus tax/shipping): $694

    Additionally... I just helped a relative buy a "new" machine from Dell's Direct Financial Services site... $135+tax/shipping... A Dell Optiplex 755, Pentium Dual Core, 2GB RAM, 80GB drive, 1GB ethernet... And it runs vSphere... I know, I have one... Only problem, is the e2180 doesn't support running 64bit VMs. You would have to upgrade the RAM, and that will cost you $65.99x2 for 8GB x2 machines... So that's about $263+tax/shipping... But you could get 3 of these boxes (2 hosts + physical vCenter) for 3x$135 or $405... You could use Starwind's free iSCSI SAN software on the vCenter box, and you would only need a switch... I got a D-Link Gigabit switch at Office Depot for $30. Dell's DFS Direct Sales site is http://www.dfsdirectsales.com/.
    3x$135=405
    4x65.99=264
    1x30=30
    Total
    $699

    Oh, and Starwind's Free Version can be found here: http://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-free

    Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck.

    Cheers,
    Jase
  • MentholMooseMentholMoose Senior Member Posts: 1,550Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    MacGuffin wrote: »
    One problem I've had is in finding laptops of any brand that (officially) support 16GB of RAM except the newly introduced MacBook Pro with Retina Display. If anyone can point out a laptop that has 16GB RAM, and a VT capable processor, I'd really appreciate it.
    Every vendor I checked (all three of them icon_cool.gif) has several of them. Dell XPS 17, Precision M4600 (can take 4 DIMMs and up to 32 GB), Thinkpad T430, T430s, T530, W520, W530 (also 4 DIMMs / 32 GB max), HP dv6z-7000, dv4t-5100, dv6t-7000, and dv7tqe, to name a few. I really want a T430s, but alas my T510 is too new to justify replacing, plus I really should be able to get by with only 8 GB RAM in my laptop for a while longer.

    Some of the listed laptops may not support CPUs with VT-d / AMD-Vi but this isn't needed for a vSphere on Workstation setup. All should support CPUs with 2nd gen virtualization extensions (VT-x with EPT, AMD-V with RVI) so nested virtualization should work. Getting a 16 GB RAM kit from Newegg is much cheaper than getting it from a laptop vendor so you might want to do that if it fits into your plan (though it sounds like the plan is to get a free MBP icon_wink.gif). That doesn't apply to the new MBP as the RAM is not upgradeable so you have no choice but to get it when ordering the laptop.
    MentholMoose
    LFCE - MCITP: EDA7, VA, SA, EA - MCSA:S 2003 - CCA (PVS 5, XD 3 / 4 / 5, XS 5 / 6) - VCP 4 / 5
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    though it sounds like the plan is to get a free MBP

    Isn't that everyone's goal? :D

    Seriously though, from the start the plan was to have a MacBook Pro in the proposal. I'd offer other options but I'd make it clear that the MacBook Pro was the preferred option. The goal here is not to pick out the hardware, I did that already for the most part. I'm open to suggestions to tweak my hardware list but I already had a good idea on what I'd need and what hardware would satisfy my need.

    What I'm trying to do here is collect the information I'd need to justify my choices. It's quite possible my original hardware and software choices is more than I'd need, and therefore cost more than they should. During this process I realized that my laptop is over five years old and is developing problems. I also realized this is an opportunity to get a replacement, or at a minimum find a computer to take some of the load off this computer so that it stops overheating and shutting down.

    I've been out of the computer buying loop for a long time. I don't do a whole lot of video games. It's been over a decade since my job description included buying computer hardware. Because of this I just don't know what is out there and how much it should cost. Most of the websites I've visited to find prices did not seem very helpful in my search either. I believe this is intentional, they don't want to make it easy to comparison shop, they want to sell you printers, toner, extended warranties, and whatever else they can think of to separate you from your money. They're worse than the oil change shops around here!
    That doesn't apply to the new MBP as the RAM is not upgradeable so you have no choice but to get it when ordering the laptop.

    This brings up another point. I think I need to keep things simple for the proposal. I'm not sure of the process just yet but it is quite likely that I will not be placing the order for this hardware and software. It's quite likely they will ask me for a list of part numbers and vendors so that they can make the order for me. I'm reluctant to offer a proposal with third party RAM because it makes the process more complex for them even though it could save them money.

    By ordering the RAM with the computer it will very likely mean more cost than getting RAM from a third party but their time is worth something too. Their time is worth money so I'm thinking that if I can distill the proposals down to a half dozen or so order numbers from one vendor that I'd make them very happy. I could certainly show them that it'd save them a couple hundred dollars by buying a dozen order numbers from three vendors but that means more time, and more money for them, and it just might not be worth their time to save that money on the parts.

    One thing that was made clear to me at the beginning is that, other than my gas money to get to where I needed to go, I would not be receiving any cash from them for my expenses. They'd buy the stuff for me, such as books, course fees, and exam fees. It sounds like they are willing to buy a computer for me since it can be considered just another expense toward getting my certifications. It appears that requests for a computer is not unusual for people in this program, the counselor even suggested he could get me a laptop so I could have the computer while taking classes or working.

    Since I'm asking for a computer to do stuff that is beyond web surfing and e-mail that I'll need to go to extra effort to justify the expense. On the other hand I'd also need to keep things simple for them so I don't waste their time even if that means more expense.

    Thanks to all for the suggestions. I really appreciate the model numbers of laptops and desktops to look at for this proposal, it really made things easier for me. I'll have to look at some of the links and such later since right now my internet access is really slow. This tends to happen after it rains for some reason. The people that provide my internet don't seem to care though, they are the only broadband provider in this part of the county.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Member
    It's taken a while but I finally got my proposal submitted. Part of the problem was getting a hold of the right person. It didn't help that in the last six months or so they had two counselors retire and one die. They had to find new people to fill those spots and there is still the problem of two people doing what three people were doing before. I suppose it's possible they are getting a third person hired but if they are they are sure taking their time to do it.

    I was correct to think that I needed to keep the number of vendors to a minimum. For each vendor they have to do more paperwork. When I pointed out that it was unlikely to find a single vendor that offered all the hardware and software I needed the counselor reluctantly wrote up two forms, one for hardware and the other for the software.

    What was a bit surprising was how easily I was able to convince her of the need for such expensive hardware. I thought I'd have to fight a bit harder than what I did. Perhaps it was the stack of printouts that I had in hand that convinced her I did my homework. She didn't look at any of them but I did to make sure I had my information correct.

    The software proposal was simple enough, a license for Windows 7 Ultimate and a license for VMWare Fusion 5.

    The hardware proposal was a bit more complex. It includes:
    - MacBook Pro with 15" Retina display, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and 2.6GHz Core i7 processor
    - Gigabit ethernet adapter
    - Firewire adapter and cable (to connect to the hard drives I already own)
    - USB optical drive
    - Scroll wheel mouse
    - Three year protection plan (standard policy for the VA)

    The hardware bill came to less than $2900 after an education discount. Since my training is at a place of higher education I have access to the discounted pricing from Apple.

    So, the question is, how did I do?

    I like the Apple because it's familiar, I've been using Apple computers for a long time. It's a known quantity, I've seen people use this same hardware and software to do what I want to get done. It's small and light, important since I'll need to carry this to my training and I got broken feet. It also seems more "future proof" than the other computers I've seen. With it's Thunderbolt, USB 3, and HDMI ports I should be able to plug in any peripheral I'll need for a long time to come. The memory is not upgradable but the process to upgrade the SSD looks simple enough. The high resolution screen and the video chip are much more than I need for my tasks and seem pretty top notch.

    There is still the nagging feeling I could have done better. I still have the weekend to e-mail a different proposal. The hardware price has to stay under $3000 since that is all that was approved. I'm willing to compromise on some aspect if I gain in another, just so long as the sum total is better than what I gave above I'll consider it. Does anyone think they can do better?
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • lapshoplapshop Posts: 1Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hey, I know lapshop store which is very near to Mumbai. They sell refurbished laptops mumbai. I think They Will Surely help you out for this. Cause they are very helpful people and they always help out others. 
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