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ITidiots return with new 'server'

So, in the olden days of ITidiots the two servers we had maxed out at 8GB each, which is nothing nowadays if you want to run any kind of Hyper-V based test lab, well not for hosting System Center 2012 anyway. So we needed something much betterer. Real servers are just too expensive for the amount of money I wanted to spend and I had an old ATX case kicking around so I thought I would use that. All I needed was a motherboard, CPU, some memory and some storage.


I gotta admit i dont know a huge amount about motherboards nowadays so I just wanted one that would work. So I thought I would check out ebuyer and found a socket 1155 motherboard that supported 32GB, was reasonably cheap, had onboard NIC, video, support for 6 SATA drives so I thought, that’ll do. 

  • Asus P8Z68-V LX Socket 1155 Motherboard  - £62.90 (six month ago)


I wanted to stick with Intel and just needed one that supported Hyper-V really, I don’t think I am going to hit a bottleneck here. I went with an i7 which was a bit extravagant really, an i5 I am sure would be fine.

  • Intel Core i7 2600k 3.4GHz Socket 1155 - £205.72 


I have had issues with cheap memory in the past but found 32GB of memory on Amazon for under £130. Now I don’t normally buy cheap memory but you guys never donate so I am loathed to spend double that on crucial memory. So,

  • Komputerbay 32GB (4x 8GB)  - £129.00 


For storage I was pretty sure with the use of differencing and dynamically expanding disks I probably wouldn’t  use more than 500GB so I thought I would use a solid state drive as I had recently changed jobs and had a crucial 256GB used in my old work laptop, Add a couple of 250GB SATA drives from the old server

  • Crucial CT256M4SSD2BAA 256GB SSD Cost: £179
  • 2 x 250GB SATA 7200RPM drives

First Impressions

So after putting it all together, I am immensely happy and think I have acheived my goal of creating a nice speedy demo lab server for not much money really. You may get to actually see it run if Su-Fay actually edits next podcast. I now have the following servers running, you can guess what they are from the name I am sure

That’s 9 and still more capacity!  Oh, and here’s how the storage is getting on.

I have loads of junk on the D drive but all the VMs are on the SSD drive with the exception of the ConfigMgr distribution drive which is on a separate vhd on the D drive. 

It’s all good, but I really need to think of a backup solution. To be honest I have had an SSD drive fail on me before, but the responsiveness of these VMs are worth the risk.



Introduction to SharePoint 2010

So you have probably heard a lot about SharePoint over the last few years, so what is it all about? Is this a good thing? What do I need to know about it? In this first episode of the ITIdiots SharePoint 2010 series we try to give you a glimpse into the technical world of SharePoint, and to make sense of it all… finishing with a quick install to set up our ITidiots intranet. 


Hyper-V Dynamic Memory


Finally Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 is here, wow what a mouthful. Anyway besides RemoteFX a really cool feature to improve the experience of remote users, there is Dynamic Memory which is what this video is about. Dynamic Memory aims to improve server consolidation by injecting and removing memory from the VM depending on demand, and available resources. Sound confusing? Well watch this!


XMind Markers for SharePoint 2010

How do you start a blog that you’ve been meaning to start for years but never got round to it? No matter, this is it!

So… I’m a SharePoint girl in the business of designing SharePoint solutions. Been using all sorts of methods in my workshops, the most effective up till now was to get the attendees to write User Stories on Post-it notes. However, thanks to a great Information Architecture masterclass I attended by Paul Culmsee and Andrew Woodward, I’ve now got a couple more tricks up my sleeve.

My new favourite tool is XMind! It’s a mind-mapping tool, but I generally use it for solution-mapping for SharePoint. This is the stage after you’ve discovered all the high-level objectives of the project, and before designing the wireframes (with another cool tool, but that’s for another post).

The tool is free, but I went ahead and paid for the 1-year subscription to unlock the Pro features, which I have to say haven’t benefited me as yet – I honestly don’t think it’s required for most people, so check out the features before you fork out for it!

There are a few comparable applications out there, but I’ve gotten along with XMind the best as the output is “prettier” which actually helps people better understand and visualise what you’re putting together, and in turn helps them generate more creative (but logical) ideas.

So last night I was feeling a bit bored and thought I’d try to make a current map I was working on look even prettier. I came up with a set of SharePoint 2010 markers which really helps illustrate the map better. Using these markers with the legend (can’t do without the legend!), I’ve cut down the text on my map massively as I don’t have to describe or label each site or list.

Thinking about it now, I bet others have come up with these markers for XMind too, oh well. Anyway, if you think they will help you too, click here to download it. All you need to do is import the marker file into XMind and away you go.

Naturally it’s still a work in progress, as I’ll undoubtedly be creating more markers as I come across the need for them.

I’ve included a sample map which contains a site structure with a few lists, libraries and items just to show how I’ve been using them. Happy mapping!


Episode 78: SAN Essentials Part III

In this instalment in our SAN Essentials series Mark takes us through performance and performance testing. Using Iometer we look at the performance of an EqualLogic(Dell) and HP EVA SAN  by presenting disks from each, over iSCSI and Fibre, to a VMWare host. Now the results may shock you, I mean surely fibre has got to be faster it just seems far more futuristic for a start, but it seems there are far more factors than that to consider, join us to find find out more…