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Portacluster




The parts are in the mail!

I've been excited about this idea for a few years now, but haven't had a good reason and/or resources to go for it. Now that my work involves traveling around and showing off Cassandra, I need a suitable demo cluster. One good rule of presenting to audiences is to never rely on the internet connection if you can help it. Murphy's Law dictates that if you rely on the wifi for an important part of your talk, said wifi will almost certainly fail when you need it most.

My original concept for the porta-cluster was to string a series of workstation motherboards together in a shipping case in such a way that they have just enough airflow and cabling to look decent but not hide anything.



But that's still a bit unwieldy with lots of problems such as heatsink/fan size/flow, where to put the PSUs, etc.. Fortunately, there's a better solution on the market now in the form of the Intel NUC:
This isn't a new development, since a pile of Mac Minis would do the same thing. I like these a little better than a mini though, because they're much smaller, about 1/4 of the size, and can support Linux out of the box. I'm impressed that these can hold 16GB of RAM and a 240GB mSATA drive, all wired up to an Intel i5 processor and a gigabit ethernet port. For lack of a better word, perfect.

As people do, I was using Newegg's shopping cart for R&D and came up with this loadout.


Server
7
Intel NUC D54250WYK1
374.99
Memory
7
2 x 8G 204-pin DDR3 1600 SO-DIMM
139.99
Storage
7
Intel 525 Series SSDMCEA240B301 240G mSATA
289.99
Display
1
GeChic On-Lap 2501B 15.6” Portable LCD
249.00
Input
1
Logitech K400 (920-003070)
39.99
Cables
8
1m Cat6 RJ45
2.78
Network Switch
1
Netgear ProSafe M4100-D12G
193.99
Power Strip
1
Digital Loggers Web Power Switch 7
139.00
Case
1
Pelican IM2950-X0001
219.00


The managed power supply will make scripting bare metal reinstallation easier since these machines don't have remote power control. The managed switch provides for two important use cases. The first is the ability to remotely enable/disable ports for partition simulations. The second is to do simple L3 routing between VLANs so I can split the cluster into two 3-node datacenters for demonstrations.

Finally, the whole thing will live in a Pelican case that is (hopefully) easy to check at the airport so I can take it to shows.

After going through IT purchasing, a couple things changed, but for the most part this is exactly what's coming. The power strip got upgraded to a small APC unit and the LCD got left out for now. I'll probably use my Droid Dock for SCALE12x and find something else later.

If you find that the UPS package tracking service is a little slow, I'm sorry. I can't help myself. The refresh button is there for a reason...