VMware Server

Published on September 22, 2006

So I bought myself a new server recently,  a beautiful new Dell Poweredge 2900 with 2GB of RAM and two 160GB SATA drives.  The machine is a beast, I can put 8 drives in (SATA or SCSI) and I have 12 slots for the memory (FB-DIMMs), and it is dual processor capable.  I only have a single Xeon 5060 in there at the moment but as soon as the prices for the Woodcrests come down I'll be buying a pair!  To get a Woodcrest it was almost $600 more, which considering I only paid $1900 for the whole thing was quite the premium.  But I digress, the server is not the main point of my story.

As I had a new server, I was faced with the task of moving the mountains of applications that have accumulated on my old server plus a whole other TFS server onto my new hardware.  But my plan was to try the VM route.  Both Microsoft's Virtual Server and VMWare's Server are now free so I wanted to host multiple servers on the single box and leave the host OS pretty much clean.

It didn't quite turn out as I planned but I am very happy so far.  I have Windows 2003 Enterprise Server R2 as the host, plus two VM's running the same OS.  One with a complete Team Foundation Server installation and the other as a SQL 2005 / ASP.Net development server.  I initially tried to use Microsoft's Virtual Server but it just didn't work well for me.  Plus the idea of working with a virtual machine in a web browser just makes my skin crawl.

VMWare Server has been pretty easy to use.  I've done a few dumb things that caused some problems but nothing unreasonable.  I also discovered the VMWare appliance directory the other day which is really cool.  This morning I installed a Debian Linux machine, with Subversion, CruiseControl and Trac all completely configured in about a hour.  That's with no experience whatsoever installing Linux and it has been about 15 years since I touched Unix at all.  Ok, I cheated, BuildIx is a preconfigured VMWare machine created by the bright folks at Thoughtworks.  It's fantastic!

I perused the list of other VMWare appliances that are available and it is quite phenomenal the potential that is there to be able to very quickly deploy solutions  at a customer's site at no cost.  Definitely food for thought.