What machines do I use to run VMs ?

So I had a question about what machines i use to run the VM to do demos. So I run two environments

I run a Toshiba M400 Tablet PC that I use with a small Western Digital 320GB external that I run the VM. From this machine has 4GB of memory and I’m upgraded to Win7 but otherwise I used to use Vista. I use this when I’m travelling and want a local copy of the VM with me.

But 98% of the time I remote into my machines back into the office which is my second environment. In this environment I have a small form factor Dell 755 Optiplex machine, well I have 2 of them.

I got these about 14months ago and they are Quad Core 2.4Ghz machines with 8GB of memory that I run Win2008 64bit on to take advantage of the 8GB. The machine had the option of a 10,000rpm drive as the main drive so I took that. I also have an Seagate 500GB external drive attached to each machine. This way I can keep multiple copies of the VMs.

On one of the machine I run VPC2007 and on the other machine I run Hyper-V. This allows me to run multiple VMs on the one machine. I can get 3-4vms running at the same time depending on how I configure the memory.

When I installed the machines i enabled Remote Desktop access and I just remote into the machine and then access the VMs. This allows me to then run them in a fast environment and I don’t have to rock up to a demo and plug in drives etc.

I’ve travelled to Europe, Middle East, Asia and maybe at Microsoft our bandwidth back to the office is good world over but this has done me well and has been really reliable. The only issue has been once when a site I was visiting didn’t allow a VPN connection out. So I had to resort to my external hard drive that i carry with me. There is a work around to this which Live Mesh.

I was looking for a new computer for home this week and I noticed that either from Dell or other providers I can get a similar config as the Dell 755 machines that I use now, even some with an Intel i7 CPUs for between $500-$1000.

Of course if you have a bigger budget you could go a whole lot more expensive and go service class machines. But It’s worth a look if you have a few consultants in your organization that demo because you can run a few VMs on the same machine then it becomes reasonably cost effective to have good performing VMs.