Have you ever thought of building an 'eco', fully functional (minus virtualization in your case
server around one of these mikrotik router boards? They seems to offer a lot and are highly customizable. I was close at one point going after one but had no time than to learn more about it and I needed a quick solution as my old WRT54G was clearly dying.
I have not come across them before buit I have been recenty playing with some of the new Atom boards. One unit that does look good though is the Intel D2500CCE which is an Intel Atom board but has dual lan. This makes it perfect for routers, firewalls etc. At around S$130 they are also not bad price wise. I have a number coming in for someone and will be playing around with some spares and PFSense and Astrix (PABX software). These would be perfect to partner with the Antek ISK 100-150 tiny mITX cases with a Pico PSU included but after distribution moved from Corbell to Convergent, it seems it is unlikely to be brought in to Singapore any more. Minibox also do a decent case and offer OEM services but they have failed to respond to any emails I have sent them. Supermicro do fairly cheap 1U mITX cases which would fit in a network cabinet. A switch, patch panel, one of these mITX router / firewalls and a network cabinet and you have an all in one solution for a branch office or small company.
Another item I have seen which looks interesting is a 1U chassis that has two modules (left and right) which can house a mITX board, PSU etc each so you could put in two mITX systems in a 1U space and the units can pull out independantly. It is built to mirror the Blade type setup but with only two units and no shared resource. Seems like a good idea but have not moved to get samples or work out costings / solutions.
Server wise, Intel do a mITX workstation board. The S1200KP uses the C206 chipset, takes GXXX, i3 or E3 Xeon processors and supports both standard and unbuffered ECC ram. Great for a mITX vSphere unit. It has one PCIe x16 slot and dual lan. They tend to be special order and not the cheapest board around but they are server grade and cheaper than the Supermicro mITX boards which use mobile Sandy Bridge processors. The only downside is that Intel, in its infinate wisdom, decided to disable VT-d (IO Passthrough for virtulisation) in the BIOS which means you cannot pass any PCIe cards or motherboard components directly to a virtual machine so it can control it exclusively using native OS drivers. If it was not for the VT-d, this would make a perfect vSphere (ESXi) virtualisation server / lab machine. I will be finishing up my article for Patrick at ServeTheHome I have been asked to write on mini-ESXi builds in the next few weeks if anyone has an interest.
If there are any other areas / items people are interested in knowing more about then let me know and I may be in a position to be able to help (information wise) or have a fair idea where others may have already answered.
I am looking at putting together the CentOS / RHEL basic SAN setup guide, will do one on Wifi Meshing if something I am working on for someone works out and will also be doing a series of guides on CentOS with basic install and update, Java install, Postres install, Postgis install, Setup and mounting of separate drive / array and subsequent install of MySQL to it (not as simple as some may think with SeLinux), master / master replication between two MySQL databases on different servers, Install of Gisgraphy (Geo location software), Tomcat installation, links to the NSA guides on securing RHEL best practices.
The problem I found when building this software stack for someone was that the guides I came across are either inaccurate (missing steps) or incorrect (due to typos or requirements moving on with newer software versions released). I therefore built my own 'playbook' (go here, run this command, go here, change this file etc) and will chop it up for others to use as a reference.
Oh and on the server rack front, I got some quotes from the big manufacturers in China on their offerings and in units of 25, a 42U could be had for around S$750 including shipping (compared to a minimum of S$1.4k locally). I know people are alwatys complaining about quality from China but a 100% premium for a local rack seems excessive. Even getting some in and having them locally welded would be cheaper.
Without dialogues, if you tell them you want something real bad, you will get it real bad.