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248 posts

Master Geek

# 39971 21-Aug-2009 22:52
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Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for some advice on what sort of machine spec should I be considering for a VM host that's intending to host 3-6 light/medium use Windows 2008 Servers. (I'm a software developer, have minimum knowledge of hardware...)

The goal is to create a dev and test environment for my own startup company :-)

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


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Infrastructure Geek
4057 posts

Uber Geek

Microsoft NZ

  # 249571 22-Aug-2009 00:24
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define 'light/medium' use.... how many users are you expecting to be abusing the servers at any one time. Are you hosting databases or exchange servers (i.e. is disk speed important). Do you have a budget in mind? New or second hand? Do you need to be able to run 64bit, or 32bit (or both)?

Technical Evangelist
Microsoft NZ
Twitter: @nzregs

153 posts

Master Geek


  # 249572 22-Aug-2009 00:42
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Startup Company - Are you doing it alone? If so:
Why are you thinking you neeed a server?
Set up your own development machine with Virtual PC and you can simulate the environments you require?


_Allan (my blogmy tweetscompany tweetscompany web site)
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248 posts

Master Geek

  # 249618 22-Aug-2009 10:59
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Thanks guys for the response!

I'm thinking about initially a 4 VMs scenario (iis, app, sql, tfs) for dev purpose. In about 3-6 months time, created another 3 VMs (iis, app, sql) for test purpose.

The plan is to setup continuous integration with automated build, test, and deploy (from dev laptop to dev environment, then onto test environment) - and with nightly stress test.

I'm expecting within the next 6-12 months, the team will grow from just 1 person (me) to 3. I probably will want to host this box somewhere at some point, so the team is not necessarily tied down to 1 physical location.

I've signed up with BizSpark, so licensing isn't a big issue for 3 years.

My thought regarding a server is because I already have an OK laptop, good enough for dev works, but not enough to do host more than 1 VM (struggles a bit with 2)... So, if instead of getting another uber laptop, I thought it might be more prudent to get a grunty box that can be shared by the team - more scalable?

I'd love to hear people's thoughts with regard to what I said :-)

248 posts

Master Geek

  # 249621 22-Aug-2009 11:07
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By the way, I'd really appreciate for any inputs on how I can strike a right balance between good dev setup vs budget... I don't need a state of art setup for the next 6-12 months, it's more important to be able to afford employees!! I can develop pretty fast, but not THAT fast!! :-)

248 posts

Master Geek

  # 249634 22-Aug-2009 12:12
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What a timely post from MS's Virtual PC Guy (

I'm still very keen to find out all Geekzoners' opinions of course! :-)

420 posts

Ultimate Geek

  # 249641 22-Aug-2009 12:45
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Are you planning to install Advanced Server 2008 plus IIS, TFS and SQL into each VM and make three seperate VM environments, one each for DEV, TEST and UAT? From the way you opened the thread, I got the impression that you were thinking of a seperate VM's for IIS, TFS, SQL and the APP and I was having trouble understanding why you would do it that way?

If it were me, I would be arranaging the box with Advanced Server 2008, IIS and TFS installed into the base. I would then perhaps create a three VM's for SQL and the APP i.e. DEV, TEST and UAT. TFS will manage the progression of each release through its various stages from DEV to UAT and IIS provides access to either environment as needed.

Regardless of the setup, server memory is the first order of business followed by CPU Cores. I would be looking for as much memory as I could afford (at least 8GB) and at least a Quad Core CPU. Of course, the base OS would need to be 64bit. As for the VM's I used VMWare Server 2.0 mainly because it supports auto restart of the VM's when the box is restarted and the VM environment can be managed from a browser window. So there is no need to go anywhere the server box itself.

From the perspective of the developer, just remember that in 12 months you will be only a third of the way through the notebooks life cycle. So going cheap at the start for a developer machine, when you might need a better spec in 12 months time is probably not a good option. Get the best spec notebook you can afford now, recognising that the dev's will be using those assets for at least two years if not three.

Provision at least 4GB of memory on each dev machine so that they can install VM's for their own use and plan for a 2.2GHZ Dual Core CPU notebook as a minimum.

Good Luck with it...

Cheers Mike

248 posts

Master Geek

  # 249648 22-Aug-2009 13:10
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Thanks Mike!! That's really really useful! Sorry I didn't explain it clear enough in my initial post, but nevertheless you understood exactly what I was after! :-)

I also re-organized my thoughts a bit more, and wrote to Ben, the Virtual PC Guy, and hope to hear back from him. I'll probably aggregate all these into a blog post for all to read!

I will keep your words in mind when I hire the first developer. You are quite right about the notebook. I was just going to put up with my T8300+3GB and put money on the VM host instead... Still at the stage juggling between contracting and setting up this project, try save money wherever I could - within reason of course.


420 posts

Ultimate Geek

  # 249651 22-Aug-2009 13:39
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The T8300 is not that bad a processor really and with 3GB it should be adequate. try installing Windows 7 64bit on it and see how it goes. You might find that the 64bit version with say 4GB of memory could be enough to get you moving along to the point where you can earn some revenue. After that, the world is your oyster - right!

Also browse around here: for feedback from others on that processor.

Cheers Mike

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