In case you missed it, John Howard has updated his HVRemote utility. This little gem, which keeps getting better and better, can completely configure both the client and the server to enable you to connect to a Hyper-V server from your Vista or Windows 7 desktop. You’ll still need some way to actually manage the server, and that could be the RSAT tools or the PSHyperV project on Codeplex. IAC, grab the new version of HVRemote. John has added even more intelligence and troubleshooting in this version.
This is just going to be a quickie. I’m busy working on a new book for Microsoft Press, and as part of that I needed to set up a failover cluster to test Hyper-V’s new Live Migration. Well, the folks at StarWind Software were nice enough to send me an NFR version of their StarWind Enterprise Server to use. I admit, I was a bit concerned, since it can be a daunting task to get most iSCSI SANs up and running, and I wasn’t at all sure how well a purely software solution would do. Well, I must say, I’m very pleased and pleasantly surprised. This has been easy to set up, and the documentation on their site has complete, step-by-step walkthroughs that a quite good. The defaults for setting up iSCSI target LUNs work just fine, and the management interface is quite easy to use.
The whole thing took under an hour to get up and running, with no need for any sort of esoteric understanding of what LUNs are, or how to configure MPIO, or what CHAP stands for, or anything fussy like that. And it let me set up a Live Migration with no muss or fuss. Nice. And I haven’t even begun to use some of the other goodies this supports, like iSCSI tape and DVD targets.
Well, sorry about that. Got a bit distracted after I started writing up my experiences with the ML350 and buried in a project and forgot to get back here. And I’m still a bit buried, so I’ll keep this a bit shorter than I might otherwise.
First, the good stuff: Overall, I love this server. It’s quiet (well, as long as the ambient temperature stays under 30 degrees or so), which is a real plus in a small business where the server may well live in a room where people have to work. It’s a workhorse. It runs at 95% memory utilization 24/7, with CPU utilization running in the range of 5-10% most of the time. That’s pretty good, and means that if I could put more RAM in here I could definitely run more VMs. The thing that makes all this possible is the incredibly good disk I/O subsystem. With a P400 RAID controller, and 8x 2.5” SAS disks for the main array, plus a separate Adaptec SAS controller that runs a pair of 750GB SATA drives (RAID 0) for miscellaneous transient storage (ISOs and such), and a pair of SAS drives in RAID1 for the boot disk, this server can really handle a lot. I could wish it had more network I/O built in. If I were buying one today, I’d spec it with at least one, and probably two, quad-port GigE NICs. More and more I’m finding that networking is my limiting factor. I’ve added an Intel dual-port server NIC, and that helps, but it’s just not enough for the kinds of things I end up doing.
Overall, this is an extremely well build server, and it’s a joy to work on. I had to swap out a couple of FB-DIMMs that went out in our last heat wave, and it was trivial to do it. Everything is well marked and easy to get at, and I only had to unclip the fan shroud to easily pop the DIMMs.
So, what don’t I like? The base I/O isn’t that great, with only a single NIC (Broadcom at that), and only the P200i for a built in RAID controller. But both of those are easily fixable. Less easily fixed is that the only way to upgrade the CPUs from dual-core to quad-core is to change the motherboard. That really is annoying, since with the dual-core CPUs the box is limited to 16 GB of RAM. If I could just buy new CPUs, I could easily extend the life of this server by quite a bit, since the quad-core CPU configuration supports 32 GB of RAM, and at a very reasonable cost. But that’s not an option.
And one ongoing annoyance is that the built-in iLO port, which takes the place of a second NIC, is of very limited usefulness without buying a very expensive add-on software package. Give me a break, HP! It should not cost extra to use the iLO as a spare management NIC for whatever I want to use it for. (And I have the same complaint about the iSCSI addon for the integrated multi-function NIC.)
So, would I buy one? Oh, yeah. And I’d really love to get my hands on the new G6 version, which looks like a very worthy successor. But that’s probably not going to happen any time soon, unless HP sends me an eval unit again.