Is ESXi the way to go?

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I'm looking for some advice regarding setting up an ESXi box for running multiple virtual machines (which is what I think I want).
I want to buy a decent machine, and run a mix of production and testing servers, maybe some networked storage, maybe a router and potentially more. Can I do this with ESXi - and what is the best way to manage it; do I need another machine? Can I login remotely over the internet?
It looks like I can do internal network switching within ESXi; is this true?
Basically I want one machine that I can run lots of different OS / machines / test beds on - is ESXi the way to go, or something else?
Thanks for any advice.
 
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You basically have ESXi by VMWARE or Hyper-V by Microsoft.

I've used both, ESXi more extensivley and I prefer it to Hyper-V. It's easy to install and will do exactly what you describe in your last page.

Have a look on VMWARE for server compatibility and requirements, get yourself a free trial of the software and give it a go on a server. You will learn most by giving it a go.
 
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I have used Hyper-V more than I have ESXi and would say go with ESXi definitely.

ESXi is just a more functional, mature product in just about every sense. Maybe in a few years Hyper-V will have caught up and created some advantages.

Edit: XenServer is another option, though I have no real experience with that.
 
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Thanks. ESXi get an all round better reputation than Hyper-V. Will I need another machine to administer the virtual machines running on ESXi - or how does it work?
 
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Thanks. ESXi get an all round better reputation than Hyper-V. Will I need another machine to administer the virtual machines running on ESXi - or how does it work?

I use VMware Infrastructure Client to connect to our ESXi servers. We have 6 running a mixture of production Linux, windows XP, 7 and Windows Server machines.

All very easy to manage and administer.
 
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I use vmware workstation. I have even tried to set up a vmware esx server and vmware infrastructure within vmware workstation. For testing purposes. But if you can afford the hardware and have the space to house an esxi physical sever then you would be able to test more/better.
 
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Thanks. ESXi get an all round better reputation than Hyper-V. Will I need another machine to administer the virtual machines running on ESXi - or how does it work?


No, you don't *need* vcenter which is a management server which is handy when you have lots of servers but also rather alot of money, you can just login via the free software "vSphere" which maybe best if you only have one or two servers.
 
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Sorry, my question was badly worded. Can I plug a screen into the ESXi box and use that for one of the virtual machines?

No - you need to have another machine connected to the network (that can route to the ESXi server) and install the vSphere client on that. You point the vSphere client at the ESXi box when connecting and away you go. You can use that box to create as many VMs as your ESXi host scales too and you will have console access to them through vSphere.

If that's not suitable, e.g. you don't have two machines then Hyper-V is probably more suited as you can install the full blown Server 2008 R2 onto a server, enable Hyper-V role and administer it all from the same machine.

Alternatively, as someone has probably already suggested you could use VMware workstation - but I'd go down the Hyper-V route for the experience.

And i'm guessing anyone stating ESXi is the way to go has not seen SCVMM 2012.... (even SCVMM 2008 was more than able when they got SP1 for 2k8 R2 released)
 
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this all really depends on your desired topology.

I use esxi on 3 hosts. I have no storage in the hosts and esxi is just installed on a usb stick. I then use a networked NAS as the datastore for the VM's which gives me the easy option to start a vm on another host should one die.

I also have 2 nic's in the hosts and have one port for my corp network and one on a vender adsl line. Then in esxi i have created 2 virtual switches, one connection to the corp network and the other the vendor network.

This means i can run both TEST and PRD servers on the same host with no interference. I even have an either TEST domain on the same host as several PRD servers!

As for connecting to the VM's, I simply VNC (if linux) or mstsc if windows machines.

VM is awesome, but don't try and do too much with one host!

good luck :)
 
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Bear in mind that data backup for ESXi is not so convenient, because the images are stored in .vmdk in the datastore.
Unless you used a separate machine for the VM data store, you may need to set up the Raw Device Mapping (RDM) so that you can backup the data directly instead of backing up the vmdk files.
 
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Bear in mind that data backup for ESXi is not so convenient, because the images are stored in .vmdk in the datastore.
Unless you used a separate machine for the VM data store, you may need to set up the Raw Device Mapping (RDM) so that you can backup the data directly instead of backing up the vmdk files.

No reason why you can't just put agents in the VM's, ie back them up just like servers have been backed up for decades.

If you want to get complicated, most backup software these days supports ESX via its own backup API's, i've never had to use RDM for backups. Dunno if you need vCenter or not to get that working though, i've never used ESX without vCenter in production environments.
 
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also ESXi doesnt support SNMP get only can send SNMP traps so some monitoring software wont be able to poll hardware issues

I got around this by writing a Perl script to check the hardware every hour and only send an alert when a problem is detected.
 
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It's probably also worth considering Citrix XenServer. It is very similar in operation to ESXi although I prefer it to VMware personally, and best of all, it's free.
 
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I've heard some very good things about the next version of hyper-v, but right now ESX just decimates it features wise

If you look at the product comparison, there is one feature microsoft claims to have which vmware dont and that is better monitoring, what they mean by this is virtual machine manager which integrates into system center. Having actual functionality outweighs this by miles, just be aware that some of the best features will require you to buy a vcenter license or higher licensing levels for your hosts

There's also the ESX4.1 vs ESX5 consideration, the licensing model was drastically different in ESX5 (its been updated a little since and i honest havent read up on the changes) but it basically used the metric of how much virtual memory you were allocating and made things a heck of alot more expensive for the same feature set, ESX5 does have some pretty nice features though. If money (or honesty) are no issue then you'd probably just go for ESX5
 
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