One of the biggest challenges faced by organizations that are deploying the latest generation of server-based products from Microsoft (SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, SMS, etc) is that Microsoft appears to have the idea that hardware is cheap and their customers are willing to spend whatever is necessary to deploy the latest and greatest.. Back in the "old days" (you know, when 64K RAM was all you were ever going to need) we focused on memory and CPU speed. I remember teaching SQL classes where I'd comment that you treated SQL server just like an airplane, "If it doesn't fly fast enough, just put a bigger engine on it". (Of course that was always said in jest, but unfortunately it was a strategy that was employed all too often)
These days, it's all about matching the IO subsystem to the application that you're running on the server. Memory and CPU speed are *almost* a byproduct. When customers purchase our product, we spend more time educating them on the IO subsystem that any other aspect of the hardware acquisition.
Well, it appears that HP is recognizing this trend as well, and (to give them credit) they're trying to stay out in front by offering a new tool to assist organizations that are about to deploy SharePoint 2007. The tool, which is available from HP as a free download (but does require registration), is pretty cool and does a good job.
Installing and Running the Sizing Tool
After you download the tool from HP, unzip the executable and run it. (If you're running Vista with UAC enabled, you'll need to answer the annoying UAC prompt). The tool takes a few moments to install, and then you'll be prompted to install the StorageWorks IO sizing tool as shown below:
Once the tools are installed, you execute them from the program files shortcut, which will launch the "sizer home" as shown below:
Basically the tool is a wizard-based tool that asks a few questions and then uses your answers to figure out the best deployment strategy. In my case (selecting a typical use-case for our Configuration Intelligence Analytics solution) the answer is:
Once I agree that a single-server solution is the right one for my SharePoint deployment, the tool calculates the total cost and generates a "pick list" for the server components as shown here:
Nice to see that the hardware vendors are picking up on the fact that people really do need to spec out the entire server, not just the CPU/memory configurations.