One of the things we advocate when mentoring new I.T. start ups is to take "Baby Steps" in their business building processes.
One of the critical areas that the new I.T. shop needs to build up is the lab.
A simple lab setup that has a relatively low cost, but provides excellent value is the following:
Intel Q6600 or Q6450 Core 2 Quad
8GB Kingston non-ECC RAM
2x 500GB Seagate Barracuda in RAID 1
Antec Sonata or Minuet.
Intel PRO/1000 PF Dual Port Server Adapter
This is our base configuration. Quad Core gives us the necessary power to run a number of virtual machines with 8GB giving us the space to run at least one or two server OSs and perhaps one or two desktop OSs at the same time.
The host OS to begin with is Windows Vista Business x64 with Virtual PC providing for the virtualization needs. Down the road either Server Core with the Hyper-V role installed or the new Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 can provide the host foundation.
RAID 1 via the on board controller is a first step. The second, once the consultancy has grown some, is to install a second pair of 500GB Barracudas to open up the I/O bottleneck a bit with RAID 0+1.
Why vPro? Because, a business is very conscious of every dollar being spent during the startup and early phases of its existance. Active Management Technology provides a simple but effective way to faciltiate reduced expenses.
While the DQ35JO may cost a bit more than say a Classic series board out of the box, those extra dollars are returned very quickly in two ways:
Power savings by having the lab system or systems off while not in use.
The consultant can fire up that lab system when they are not in their office.
The built-in hardware support for virtualization is also a key feature.
Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 or 2008 provides an SSL secured remote access method to the internal network via the Remote Web Workplace.
The methodology is quite simple:
Log on to RWW as a domain admin.
Log onto the server via "Connect to my Server" link.
Use the Intel System Defense Utility to connect to the lab system and power it up.
Log off SBS and RWW.
Log onto RWW as the lab user
Connect to the lab system via the "Connect to my computer" link.
Once logged onto the lab system's desktop the consultant is good to go with whatever tasks they are looking to test on the lab setup.
Prior to vPro and AMT, we were leaving our lab systems online all of the time. We had to, as there was no guarantee that the lab would be needed while on-site working on a critical issue. And, if a problem arose where the lab system had locked up, there was no way to power cycle the system.
For us, vPro and AMT just make cents!