Having the right tool for the job just makes life easier; this is very true in the IT world. My role as Systems Administrator requires me to have multiple PCs running at various times; this includes a mixture of Windows XP and Windows 7 instances. Using Oracle’s VirtualBox, a mixture of diverse installs are available to me on my base Windows 7 image. Having a machine that will support a number of these installs running concurrently is a big plus.
As we transition from a Novell eDirectory based environment to one built on Microsoft Active Directory I need a varied selection on Windows installs, some on XP, some on 7, some with Zenworks and the Novell Client, some joined to our AD domain, still others with other combinations. Having more than two of these VMs running concurrently would bring my old Core 2 Duo box with 8 GB RAM to its knees. I just wasn’t working efficiently.
When my group finally scared up enough money for myself and another Sys Admin to upgrade we jumped on the opportunity. Since we needed processing power we chose Intel’s Core i7-2600 Sandy Bridge quad-core processor running @3.4 GHz. The goal of supporting multiple VMs is memory intensive thus we installed 16 GB of DDR3 memory.
I don’t do video rendering or have the need for impressive frame rates, but I do require lots of screen to display the many consoles which I am required to support, thus 2 ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT PCIe cards push the 4 Dell 17 inch monitors which, to conserve desk space, I configure in portrait mode.
The PC sports two hard drives; one 148 GB for the base O/S and applications, the second 1TB for data storage & VM images. The 1TB drive I have partitioned into three NTFS partitions; one for data storage, another for VMs, another for isos.
In the picture shown, on left monitor is an XP VM running apps that aren’t supported on Windows 7 like ConsoleOne and Novell remote consoles. Two Netware console are displayed and a command prompt window for running JRB Utilities. Left-center is Gmail and WebHelpDesk displayed; right-center is a Win7 VM used to test remote application deployment and VMWare’s VSphere Console. Finally the right monitor is displaying my AD management Windows 7 VM and ConsoleOne running on a Linux Virtual Server.
That’s my box of tools; at least some of them.