Saturday, 11 October 2008

SMB I.T. Consultants and a vPro Based Lab

This is a cross post: Intel vPro Expert Center.

One of the things we advocate when mentoring new I.T. start ups is to take "Baby Steps" in their business building processes.

One of the critical areas that the new I.T. shop needs to build up is the lab.

A simple lab setup that has a relatively low cost, but provides excellent value is the following:
  • Intel DQ35JO
  • Intel Q6600 or Q6450 Core 2 Quad
  • 8GB Kingston KVR800D2N5K2/4G non-ECC RAM
  • 2x 500GB Seagate Barracuda in RAID 1
  • Antec Sonata or Minuet.
  • Intel PRO/1000 PF PT Dual Port Server Adapter

This is our base configuration. Quad Core gives us the necessary power to run a number of virtual machines with 8GB giving us the space to run at least one or two server OSs and perhaps one or two desktop OSs at the same time.

The host OS to begin with is Windows Vista Business x64 with Virtual PC providing for the virtualization needs. Down the road either Server Core with the Hyper-V role installed or the new Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 can provide the host foundation.

RAID 1 via the on board controller is a first step. The second, once the consultancy has grown some, is to install a second pair of 500GB Barracudas to open up the I/O bottleneck a bit with RAID 0+1.

Licensing would be covered by the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription to begin with. TechNet Plus would provide the lab licensing further on.

Why vPro? Because, a business is very conscious of every dollar being spent during the startup and early phases of its existance. Active Management Technology provides a simple but effective way to faciltiate reduced expenses.

While the DQ35JO may cost a bit more than say a Classic series board out of the box, those extra dollars are returned very quickly in two ways:

  • Power savings by having the lab system or systems off while not in use.
  • The consultant can fire up that lab system when they are not in their office.

The built-in hardware support for virtualization is also a key feature.

Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 or 2008 provides an SSL secured remote access method to the internal network via the Remote Web Workplace.

The methodology is quite simple:

  • Log on to RWW as a domain admin.
  • Log onto the server via "Connect to my Server" link.
  • Use the Intel System Defense Utility to connect to the lab system and power it up.
  • Log off SBS and RWW.
  • Log onto RWW as the lab user
  • Connect to the lab system via the "Connect to my computer" link.

Once logged onto the lab system's desktop the consultant is good to go with whatever tasks they are looking to test on the lab setup.

Prior to vPro and AMT, we were leaving our lab systems online all of the time. We had to, as there was no guarantee that the lab would be needed while on-site working on a critical issue. And, if a problem arose where the lab system had locked up, there was no way to power cycle the system.

For us, vPro and AMT just make cents!

UPDATE 2008-10-22: Adapter was the wrong model, and added the Kinston part number.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

4 comments:

Luke said...

I'm in the process of building a system just like this one ;-)

Pressumably you mean PRO/1000 PT Dual Server Adapter rather than the PF?

Is the case you used the Sonata III with 500w psu (There are 3 other Sonata models)?
http://www.antec.com/usa/productDetails.php?lan=us&id=15137

Is the RAM Buffered or Unbuffered?
KHX6400D2K2/4G or
KVR800D2D8F5K2/4G or
KVR800D2N6K2/4G

Philip E. said...

Luke,

Good catch on the PF/PT. Will be corrected shortly.

KVR800D2N5K2/4G or /2G on the Intel DQ35JOE.

Thanks,

Philip

Luke said...

Thanks, it's slowly starting to make sense!

KVR800D2N5K2/4

KVR - Kingston Value Ram
800 - 800Mhz
D2 - DDR2
N - NON-ECC
5 - CL5
K2 - Kit of 2 Modules(Only for Kits)
/4 - Total Gb of Module or Kit

Philip E. said...

Luke,

Send me an e-mail through the Questions link in the right column and I will e-mail you back with a configuration sheet for the lab system.

Philip