Dell's PowerEdge R900 offers a powerful system for virtualising operating systems and consolidating physical servers, with the major virtualisation packages supported.
Easy set up and manageability using OpenManage Server Administrator; supports Citrix, Microsoft and VMware virtualisation environments; powerful performance for the price.
No virtualisable network interface card offered as option.
£ 6,573 starting price. As configured on Dell web site $32,567 (£21,500)
Although originally launched this February in the Philippines, Dell's R900 PowerEdge was upgraded with Intel Dunnington series six-core processors in October.
The PowerEdge R900 is a rack mount 4U system, which has four processor sockets and can have a maximum of 256GB of system memory. Our system had 16Gb of 667MHz memory installed, and three 2.5in form factor serial attached SCSI (SAS) 10,000 rpm, 146GB hard drives configured as a single virtual disk SCSI device.
There are drive bays for up to eight 2.5in drives, but users can specify a backplane for up to five 3.5in drives.
Our R900 had a full complement of four Intel 2.66GHz Xeon E7650 series six-core processors installed, running with a 1066MHz front side bus. These 45nm, 1.9 billion transistor, Penryn-based CPUs do not have HyperThreading technology, which a quick check in the Windows task manager performance tab shows - we could see 24 processors.
Firing up the system brings a sound like an aircraft taking off but, since the server will reside in a dedicated room or datacentre, ear defenders won't be needed.
Our review system had Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition installed, but all editions are supported, as are Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.5, Sun Solaris 10, Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 and Windows Server 2003 R2.
Virtualisation software offered with the R900 includes Hyper-V. Off-the-shelf systems come with either VMware's ESXi 3.5 or Citrix's XenServer 4.1 installed, and Dell's embedded hypervisor also supports Sun Solaris on the x86 platform. Virtualisation software supported on the R900 includes Citrix XenServer, VMware's Infrastructure 3.5 and VMware's ESXi 3.5.
It was simple to enable the Hyper V Microsoft Management Console snap-in, but the R900 had to be fully patched using Windows Update before this was possible. Using Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualisation system was simple and, although its management GUI seemed fairly intuitive, Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, which we installed later, appeared less so.
Space taken up by the 64-bit edition of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition was 24.8GB out of a total capacity of 383GB. As a comparison the 32-bit edition of Windows Server 2008 occupies a similar amount of disk space at just under 24GB.
We attached the system to our itweeknet.com domain and imaged the system. After enabling the WS 2008 backup and restore feature, the compressed image used just under 9GB of disk space, and restoring the system to its original image was trivial.