I've embarked on a task that I've been dreading for quite some time now: I'm completely restructuring my lab.
While this may seem like a little thing to the uninitiated, the reworking of a functioning computer test lab results in major upheaval. Granted, the casual observer might mistake the current condition of my lab for upheaval, with its mountains of server shipping boxes and its ridiculous Ethernet spaghetti behind the racks, but I'm talking about real disruption.
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It'll take me a month of swearing and being generally pissed off before I'm done, followed by many more months of the same when I can't find parts that I used to be able to locate immediately or realize I have to spend an hour rebuilding some infrastructure that used to exist before I tore it down.
But the upshot is that even though many lab infrastructure components have been virtualized for years and years, the hardware running those VMs is being retired. That means I'll suddenly have gobs of free rack space, faster VMs, and a much lower power and cooling bill. That alone makes the whole endeavor worth it.
One box headed for retirement is a Dell PowerEdge 2800 that's been running a dozen VMs for at least six years now. When it was new, it was the very model of a modern major server: a massive black box weighing about a ton, with eight hot-swap U320 disk bays, two single-core 3.6GHz Intel Xeon CPUs and 8GB of RAM. It has performed beautifully, running without complaint the entire time. Some of the VMs on that box have 900-day uptimes. It's been stuck at VMware ESX 3.5 for years as I never felt the need to upgrade it.
In short, it's been exactly what it should have been -- a stable, reliable cornerstone for lab resources (the VMs on that box are an array of domain controllers, PXE boot hosts, DNS and DHCP servers, and other static lab services). Its reward for this service? It gets replaced by a tiny little box running two six-core AMD Opteron 4000-series CPUs that will not only provide a performance bump (albeit at 2.2GHz per core), but also sips power and takes up about a tenth of the physical space.