VLC/VCF Lab Dedicated Server, best value I’ve seen!

The other day I was helping a friend of mine get VLC up and running on his server. When doing some discovery about what hardware he had I learned that it was a dedicated server hosted at OVH. I asked how much he paid per month and was quite surprised at the response. As this is something that we constantly run into… HOW much for a lab to run VCF?! I was surprised enough that I went out and got my own!

Great Value - Highway sign image

I’ll probably do another post on all the technical bits that I did when configuring the server and the network side if there is interest but for now I just want to cover the cost, specs and features that make this such a great value.

If you log on to OVH’s site, you won’t necessarily find these servers. They seem somewhat hidden and I think they may be like “spot pricing”. They are called Best Value servers. Here is a link that should get you to the order page and it will show you if there are any available. All of the servers that I have seen in this class have been dual 8core Xeon’s with 256GB RAM for $99 USD a month, which is just right for VCF with K8’s or VCF with a WLD… except the issue that I ran into was there was not enough storage, only 2 x 240GB SSDs.

In the screenshot above you can see that there is another option for storage, the 2 x 240GB SSDs + 4 x 2TB HDD’s, but it is unavailable. I visited the site a couple of times for 2 days and low and behold this same server with the additional storage option became available! Key is be patient (I think!).

I decided to order the server and give it a try, there are no contracts, everything is month to month. Heck, my power bill for the servers I have is more than this a month.. if it works, maybe I can shut those down! It took a grand total of *5 minutes* for it to be provisioned and available to me with a public IP address assigned.

I was then ready to install an OS, ESXi of course. I chose to install on one of the 4 HDDs. This would allow me to save the SSDs and setup a single node vSAN with 2 diskgroups. In opening the IPMI Java client and attaching the ISO, when I rebooted I saw that it was a SuperMicro circa 2015. It was a bit painful using IPMI across the WAN but after 30 minutes I had ESXi up and running. The next task was to upload a windows ISO so I could build my jumpbox.

After the install I was able to secure the host to just port 443 using a firewall in the management portal. My friend had also told me about a failover IP address that could be used as a second IP and it was a one time cost of $3 USD! If you chose to discontinue the server you could park the IP and use it at another time on OVF’s products. Needless to say I spent the $3. I was able to setup a PFSense appliance and use this new IP to give me an OpenVPN tunnel into my environment.

The second day I was able to get VCF up and running using VLC with no special tweaks other than those in the VLC Install Guide. It took 4:30 which isn’t the fastest time but it sure seems worth it!

Here’s the usage with a consolidated workload management (Kubernetes) deployment, and 3 nodes for a WLD:

All in, if I look at this server it’s about $1500 USD if I rented it for a whole year. Cruising ebay I could find a few comparable servers, but once you add in the cost of power (A recent article by ZDNet showed that in the U.S., it costs about¬†$731.94¬†per year to run an average server) and (2) public IP’s, I can really see the value!

Hope you enjoyed, reach out on the VLC-Slack instance if you’d like another more detailed post. Thank you!