I have a couple of questions, but I'll try and provide a bit of background first:
The majority of primary schools I support (which is quite a few), have a user base of less than 500 and less than 100 client devices, in most cases considerably less. They are currently setup up with 1 Physical server, generally of medium spec (couple of quad core CPUs, 8-16GB RAM, 4-8 Sata HDDs with about 1-2TB space), with all roles and services installed to this. Some schools also have their previous server set up as a member server, as we generally advise replacing them after 5 years, running wsus and anti-virus deployment, but if not these go on the single server.
E-mail fortunately is handled off-site, by the LEA and/or either Office 365/Google.
Clearly there is an issue with the above setup...Single point of failure. If the server fails, whether due to hardware or software issue, the network will be down until I can get it back online, which in general is about 3-5 days (not great, I know).
What do you do? What do you advise?
Personally I would like more failover/resiliency in the system, we're not talking the 5 9's here, they're primary schools, they don't remote access anything (although hopefully that could change in the future, at least for staff) and so long as they can login and access their work from 7am-7pm most of the schools I look after would be fine with this. It has to be said, failures are rare, but are they avoidable (I know they are at a price, but I think that price is probably beyond most of my primary schools)?
I know a lot of people on here would probably say I should be looking at virtualising and/or multiple servers, which I'd love, but we are in a recession, if budgets for IT were tight beforehand, they're practically none existant now. I'm not saying it shouldn't/can't be done, but the budgets I'm talking about are around 10-15K per year, for all IT requirements, including clients, IWBs, Projectors, Printers, Toner (which they get through a lot of) and software, it will be tough to achieve I think, though I am willing to be proved wrong.
Also, they entire system would need to be managed on a ongoing basis in approximately 3 hours a week/fortnight, although the installations would be done normally in a 1 or 2 week school holiday, or over the summer. Anyone who does a similar roll will know how hard this can be, in most cases I am the sole IT support, so I do the roles of Network Manager/IT Technicain/Trainer all within 3 hours a week/fortnight. It's challenging, but it's mostly enjoyable.
Thanks in advance for your advise/help, it may go a long way in help a good number of schools in the area.
Depending on the speed of their lines I would virtualize each server while keeping it on one box.
Maybe have a second hyper-v machine somewhere on site with a cloned virtual image or back it up centrally over the internet. Either option would allow for a quick recovery.
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