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back to article How to build a BONKERS 7.5TB, 10GbE test lab for under £60,000

In part one of The Register's Build A Bonkers Test Lab feature, I showed you how to build a test lab on the cheap; great for a home or SMB setup, but what if we need to test 10GbE? Part two is a wander through my current test lab to see how I've managed to pull together enough testing capability to give enterprise-class …

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Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

and there may be hidden charges for more than one core. Worth checking - I've seen what seems to be a £1500 'investment' in MS server rise to ten times that - that was a few years ago and the last time I used MS software.

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Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

Poor advice? I don't see your point - does it matter what OS it is using in this case? its a nice little experiment! It also shows the very real ability to create very decent performance at a very reasonable price whether you would use it just in test or in Production or just do for a bit of fun. I like recycling our old kit into testing machines as it is rare they need anything more than new disks. I too would not personally use Windows for my shared storage but this chap obviously wanted too (probably because learning to do this in another OS would cost him more in the long run).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

That would be if it was datacenter edition, that is then per socket. Standard and Enterprise are per server licensing with enterprise having licensing rights for 4 VMs on the same host (standard 1 VM, datacenter unlimited). Microsoft hasnt done per core licensing until SQL Server 2012 came out, and forcing core licensing for the Enterprise edition, making it extremely expensive now.

Server 2008 may have been mentioned as it would be easier for most people to set up, and from what I can see its not an advice article, its a look at what I've done and how much it cost me article.

My file server at home isnt windows, was at the start, move to opensolaris, then updated solaris express, as i wanted to use ZFS, with 20TB of storage, cost me over the years probably around £1000 to build.

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Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

Actually the licensing model has changed with the release of 2012, I don't know if you can even buy legitimate licenses for 2008r2 any more, you certainly can't in the enterprise. Now for the commercial versions both standard and datacenter are licensed on a per core basis with both being 1 license per 2 cores. The virtualization model is different too with standard allowing 2 virtual instances per license and datacenter unlimited (both are linked to hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

@Eadon - do give it a rest... A mention of how to do something with Windows is no more of an advert than a mention of how to do something on Linux is an advert for linux.

If you need a supported version of Windows Server, yeah it'll be about $750, but then again a supported version or RHEL will be about the same.

Now, if you've got a test rig and want to run Windows Server, you'll get several installs of each different version (plus a whole load more) for about £100 for a technet subscription.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

@Eadon - Yes, support is not the same a a licence, but if you want an equivilant level of support+licence with Linux you'll be paying the same for the level of support+licence for windows. Centos is great, but there is no official support, this was kind of my point, you can get Windows for only a few quid per seat if you use technet, yet it's not free, but it's only a trivial amount of money. That said I'm glad your feeding yourself now, it must be very difficult, what with all the trolling you've got to get on with.

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Re: does it matter what OS it is using in this case? Yes!

If the purpose is to build a test lab which provides a realistic micro test environment for enterprise equipment then it is obvious that Windows Server 2003/2008 has to be in it. Yes it may be nice having the capability to dual boot etc etc, but as a first step using a license, that I assume is paid for and hence no annual subscription, makes a lot of sense.

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Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

> Is Microsoft paying you?

If you actually READ the article, you'd see that he does in fact mention open source/free software. Did you not see the bit that starts "Unless you rely a great deal on open source ..." ?

Yes, for some of us, Linux (or other FOSS of choice) does the job just fine - in fact all the servers I manage are Linux. However, there are actually a lot of jobs where Windows is the norm, and frankly that's not going to massively change in the very near future. Lots of big organisations are wedded to MS stuff, well and truly in so deep that it would be very difficult to extricate themselves if they wanted to. For example, regardless of what you or I may think about them on a technical or ethical level, things like Active Directory and Exchange do "just work very nicely" for those who have a MS only setup (which is still most large businesses).

As others have suggested, your style of outbursts are actually very unhelpful when it comes to "selling" non-MS into corporates. People at all levels see these sorts of outbursts and assume that it's representative of everyone involved with free/open source software - and it's enough to give them a bias against before you even open the conversation. Really, it's not helpful.

So, assuming Trevor Pott is working for an outfit, or in industries, where MS use is the norm, then his test lab needs to run MS as well. Running Linux on the test setup would be 0% useful if the requirement is to test new setups of (say) clusters of servers running MS SQL Server.

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@Simon Hobson

My testlab will ultimately run Windows, VMware, Openstack, Cloudstack, various flavours of Linux and several BSD disties that I am playing with. Don't worry though, I'm totally a paid shill for [corporation_you_hate] as well as a religious freetard while simultainiously lacking any understanding of anything because I don't do what [commenter_1] says AND what [commenters2-n] say, despite the fact that they all completely disagree.

I write things on the internet, getting on 3 years now. After a time, it's all déjà moo. The handles attached to the blocks of text may vary, but the level and stinkyness of the bullshit contained in that text does not.

That said, the chief grand poohbah around here gave me a gold commenttard badge, and that is a great thing. It comes with an ignore button. The SNR has increased dramatically since I started using it.

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Anonymous Coward

Why did the register publish this article?

These kind of free advertorials bring in revenue from the tech companies, nothing wrong it that ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: does it matter what OS it is using in this case? Yes!

"If the purpose is to build a test lab which provides a realistic micro test environment for enterprise equipment then it is obvious that Windows Server 2003/2008 has to be in it."

So you're saying that MS's OSes are the only OSes suited to enterprise computing? Hmmmm... Intriguing view point.

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Linux

Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

...except I don't need to use a "supported" version of RHEL.

I can just use Debian.

This a domain of computing where you don't have suffer from the "learned helplessness" of a desktop PC user.

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Linux

Re: does it matter what OS it is using in this case? Yes!

> If the purpose is to build a test lab which provides a realistic micro test environment for enterprise equipment then it is obvious that Windows Server 2003/2008 has to be in it.

Hardly.

Windows is for small shops that can't affort IT staff.

If you are talking "enterprise", then some form of Unix is the obvious way to go.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

The licensing model for server is still socket / physical processor based, not core based. Just now its 2 sockets / physical processors for each license.

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Facepalm

Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

Did he say he was not installing Lunix? Or that it's an extra cost to install Windows Server on a test system? IE, one your going to test multiple OS/s setups and systems on? Why mention the zero cost of things that don't cost anything?

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Flame

Re: does it matter what OS it is using in this case? Yes!

Contrary to the real world where that is at least an 80/20 split if not 95/5 split in favour of windows. Show me a large enterprise (>5000 users) that does completely without Windows and Office or at least achieves 50/50 or stop claiming that windows is only for small companies

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Trollface

Re: "Windows Server is $750" - Word to the wise - a Linux server does the job better for $0

"a Linux server does the job better for $0 "

Which is why no enterprise uses Windows of course...

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It's the price of the network cards that's surprising me

I remember when you had to pay that to get 10Mbs...

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Supermicro...

I've got the little brother of this (4 servers, aka Dell C6100) in my test lab, comes with 8xQC Xeon CPU's 128Gb RAM and 12x1TB HDD's, cost me just over £2k.

They are great value :)

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2.5" bays for 5.25" holes.

Since you like SuperMicro, I suggest:

http://www.supermicro.nl/products/accessories/mobilerack/CSE-M28E2.cfm

If you don't need the dual-port capability, the basic model is:

http://www.supermicro.nl/products/accessories/mobilerack/CSE-M28E1.cfm

4 bay version:

http://www.supermicro.nl/products/accessories/mobilerack/CSE-M14.cfm

(don't ask me why supermicro.com redirects me to .nl!)

Budget range:

http://intrl.startech.com/HDD/Mobile-Racks?filter_DRIVESIZE=2.5in&page=all

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Re: 2.5" bays for 5.25" holes.

Seriously; we had the Icy Docks on order at the local computer retailer. They were all set to arrive...then didn't. Oh, but they'll arrive! They'll be here in time for your review! Nope. Really should have bought from an etailier instead of waiting for the local retailer to get kit in, but ya can't win 'em all...

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WTF?

tens of thousands of dollars spent on MS licences - really?

Could give the money to any semi-competent Linux grey beard and end up with something that won't be obsolete at the next Microsoft product cycle.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: tens of thousands of dollars spent on MS licences - really?

Yawn, how tedious and predictable.

In other news Windows 2003 R1 still supported, a decade later.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: tens of thousands of dollars spent on MS licences - really?

"... still supported, a decade later." Not the Small Business edition. Making the outcome even, when inputs are not even is not called fair judgment or open minded by any stretch of the imagination. It only makes you feel like you are being fair or open minded especially when the majority are giving you that look that you don't know what you are talking about. So go on and keep being fair.

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also

if you can find any real company that is willing to throw money at this stuff, please, tell me where to send my CV. When my employers talk about test labs they mean the pile of broken pentium 2s.

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Coat

Re: also

Hahahaha. I feel for you though. My test lab is a pile of Pentium 4s, that I got for free, and it's only for home testing. A hobby. Not even paid. I've got a P2 in the cupboard, but I used that to test my drilling, hammering and Frisbee skills.

Mine is the one with a multi tool in each pocket for taking apart the obsolete tech to see "how it works". Only after it's depreciated to a penny or two though.

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Holmes

zOMFG....

i stopped reading once it was mentioned using windoze, go and get a real OS, then we can talk.

I cannot decide whether to use Fail, WTF or paris - think i will go with Sherlock, since i think some clue needs to be found...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass?

@Eadon: Your comments are just embarrassing, I have to use Linux professionally and have to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time explaining to potential users of Linux that people like you are not indicative of the people at the companies supplying Linux OSes.

Newsflash: Lots of people use Non FOSS OSes and they need interop, not purist fanboys banging on about how they're doing it all wrong and stupid to boot. Do you think that your continuing banging on does your cause any good at all?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass?

So, it's ok for you to call the author of the article embarrassing, but as soon as someone does it to you, it's a personal attack.

If you think windows is not compatible with anything, you're showing your true technical skills and I applaud that.

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FAIL

Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass?

Windows OS is fine for server. In fact, it's easier to use and manage and there are many more management tools out there for it that make it a dream to use in a huge enterprise environment.

If, like me, you look after a region of 8,000 users and 3 datacentres filled with servers, not mentioning all the virtualised stuff and project site servers, then Windows is a godsend. Easy to setup, easy to manage, easy to virtualise, generally works without much maintenance, full support is included in our EA (enterprise-wide license agreement), and its interop capabilities piss over Linux.

Talk about fanboy rant!

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Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass? @eadon

I think the shill here is you. I think you shill by tarring linux users as unbending, warped and dislikeable. I hope MS pays you well, although not, I'm sure, enough to buy you the social skills which you faintly comprehend only by some painful hollowness within.

> Everything else is compatible with MS Windows

Yes. In Twattery, Veritas.

So much has been ported to it and can be expected to run by running an installer. One of the many reasons "Micro$oft Windoze" (look, I did it for you) remains so attractive in large parts of the market.

I'm trying to move to linux where my work permits. It really doesn't make some things easy though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass?

Only reason why you need to support the dang MS ecosystem is because someone drank the koolaid. TBH, if I have the luxury of choosing to be creative and expressive in my work rather, I will do that. Yes, in this case, it does have to do with purism. The ulterior motives of commercial software companies really cramps creativity. If you don't create(highly likely in this day and age), you would not understand what I'm talking about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass?

@Greg D,

They could cut that down to two data centers if they dumped windows.

Case in point, Microsoft can't even keep their reseller server going for them to get credit for sales.

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Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass?

"MS Windows is compatible with nothing. Everything else is compatible with MS Windows"

CIFS was originally designed at IBM before MS hacked it into its current sorry state.

Most Internet standards were developed externally to Microsoft. MP3, JPEG, many other standards originated outside of MS, although they do have a bad habit of adding non-standard extensions.

The fact is, if you're writing an article aimed at an enterprise space, you need to recognise that there are people operating in that space who use Windows, for various reasons. I would love it if all our servers were running Linux, but that's not always an option.

Windows does have some advantages. The file permissions model is vastly superior to the standard Linux 3-level model. Active DIrectory has some large advantages in managing a network. And senior management are so hung up on how easy it is to manage that they never notice that they need twice the people to do the same job. :-)

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Happy

how about simply buying a NAS?

There are 10GBE boxes for quite acceptable prices these days... QNAP released some new ones just recently.

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Re: how about simply buying a NAS?

Show me the QNAP box that can FEED that 10GbE interface. None of them seem to be able to provide 1280 megaBYTES per second of storage movement...

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Just how many readers do you think have 60 grand to throw at a "test lab" that don't already know how to do the same thing cheaper and better?

Honestly, Reg, that's the sort of thing I see on gamer forums with idiots throwing thousands of pounds at Microsoft in order to run a storage array. I don't expect it on here.

I'd have been infinitely more interested in the article if it wasn't just "let's throw money at something that's not a problem if you have that kind of money", and even more if it wasn't focused solely on MS (which the writer claims he doesn't have the correct licensing for any further upgrade at the start - not surprising after the amount he's already wasted on it).

Give us something "real world" that isn't aimed at people who could do a better job and write a better article than your own writers.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

First-degree burns treatment

"Just how many readers do you think have 60 grand to throw at a 'test lab' that don't already know how to do the same thing cheaper and better?"

Just a couple of things. In case the headline didn't make it obvious enough, this is a bonkers setup: it's obviously an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink "dream rig", as the sub-headline states. Also, you don't have to buy the whole lot; the headline figure is tongue-in-cheek.

We write technical stuff and people complain that's it boring; we write fun stuff and people call it fluff. You can't please all of the people all of the time.

C.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: First-degree burns treatment

@Eadon - I know plenty command line jockeys who think that because they know some commands they somehow understand all computing, I prefer the mouse clickers because at least they're not sanctimonious about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: First-degree burns treatment

I have to say, although I very much disagree with the tone used by poster "Eadon" in his comments, I would have to agree that a few *insightful* Linux articles would be welcome now and again.

The general level even amongst those who write Linuxy stuff leaves a bit to be desired for my own taste. When I see one of those, I often head for the comments, as they tend to contain more interesting info than the article itself, which I suppose could be taken to prove that you already have a receptive audience to something a bit more technical.

Just giving a bit of feedback, that is all.

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Re: First-degree burns treatment

Thanks Diodesign for the article. It's incite full even for novices like me who cannot network 2 PCs successfully or setup a Linux Distro let alone Server 2003 or a Linux based one.

I would ask though, does it run Crysis? Oh... I mean, is there a reason the test system cannot cheat with disk arrays? Do you need to test all the disk setups in the test bed? Or can you get away with "virtualising" that bit to save some cash? Setup half as many disks, but in software pretend it's a duplicate? Or max out a 10GB line by sending duplicate data from ram, instead of trying to feed it all from disk?

I guess that is no help, as the test is if the disks can feed the ram/cache that can feed the network? So virtualising the disks means you could hit an unforeseen problem when switching to real hardware?

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Re: First-degree burns treatment

This is about the best analogy I've seen for what GUIs do.

My boss wants me to set up a GUI Dialplan designer for our Asterisk server so "our customers can modify their own dialplans". This is like saying that we should set up a GUI application designer so our customers can write their own software. What I've seen of the tools available is that they're *more* complicated than just building a dialplan by hand, and you have to already know what you're doing to begin with. If anything, it just reduces the number of typos in your dialplans. It certainly doesn't make the job simpler.

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Re: First-degree burns treatment

"switching to real hardware"...what?

You mean you still run stuff that isn't virtualised in production?

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Hmm

Maybe I am off here, but the problem with this - is its a bit of fantasy. Trevor seems to have access to a high level of funding that is beyond the norm. While it is fun to talk 10Gbps and 60K - the harsh reality is that this is all fantasy beyond reality for most of us. We are in the real world having to make and mend and build using very minimal costs. I suppose its nice to look in on this, but what fun is a project you can't actually do yourself, or partake in.

Also, I have to say, MS and Windows are in terrible trouble. The OS licensing when in many cases you can do it for free is a real world challenge. What future for AD when you can't even hook up surface to it and group policy? What are you paying all these huge costs on licensing? For joined up cross device defined design? What with in tune and azure?

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