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Hardware Thread, Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers in Technical; I have been handed the task of purchasing some new member servers for the school on a shoestring budget! The ...
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    AngryITGuy's Avatar
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    Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    I have been handed the task of purchasing some new member servers for the school on a shoestring budget!

    The new servers of which there are to be four in total are to be used as print servers, storage for staff data and for use with the edexcel online examination software.

    Looking through various server manufacture websites it seems most of them are offering a choice between SAS and SATA hard disks which is what is causing me the dilemma.

    From what I gather the SAS hard drives will offer better performance and greater longevity than the SATA hard disks but this seems to come at a premium of about 3 times the price of the equivalent SATA disk. And this will no doubt eat into my shrinking budget as I need these servers to last as there is a good chance they will be the last servers I buy.

    The problem I have here (and I guess I am not the only one) is that the school will have BSF knocking on the door in 4 years time and the head wants to spend less money on IT as each year passes. I am dreading to think what the IT budget will be like in 3 years time!

    I guess what I want to ask is does anyone out there have SATA disks in their server and are they reliable and is performance hindered?

    Any advice and recommendations would be gratefully appreciated.

    Many thanks in advance

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    SATA will be fine. We only use SAS on heavy duty servers like File Servers or Citrix.

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    As above. We prefer SAS but our DCs are just self build opteron 939s, one with sata and one with ide! 8O


    What is it they are going to do? You say servers, but can you not making it 1 or 2 higher spec ones?

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    @AngryITGuy:

    Does your head think that when BSF comes along he will be getting a brand new network in a brand new school cos if he is then i think he he will be sorely disappointed.

    If he is depleting the ICT network Budget as each year passes then he is not fulfilling his duty towards both you and the school as a whole and could be taken to task over this decision. False economy means that the school could lose out big time when BSF does eventually come along.

    My advise is to buy the best you can which is what i am doing before the BSF comes along.

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    contink's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    Well, you could look at putting more redundancy into the SATA systems (eg: RAID5 with one extra drive as a spare) which allows for fail-over and buy a couple of extra drives in, for when/if something goes wrong.

    Even with the 2/3 times more expense, you're still quids in.. and like j17sparky said, why not go with a mix of specifications with the more mission critical ones getting more of the budget cake.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    Could go for one really beefy server and split it up into four virtual machines.

    --
    David Hicks

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    AngryITGuy's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    Thanks for the replies guys I have been looking at Dell for server prices and they offer entry level Quad Core Xenon processor servers with 4gb of ram, with raid 5 using 250gb SATA disks at a reasonable price.

    @ j17sparky:

    Our current setup is as follows;

    The school is split over two buildings. The main building is home to all the servers and 20% of the curriculum workstations. The second building is linked via fibre and houses the remaining 80% of the workstations. The only print server in the school is the main DC which does everything apart from make me coffee first thing on a morning.

    Two of the new servers were going to be used as dedecated print servers for each of the two buildings. Another was going to be used to store all staff data which is currenly on the main DC and the last one was to be a dedicated server for the edexcel online testing software.

    I probably wouldn't need a RAID configuration on th print servers but I know from experience that given time they will be used for other purposes also.

    @ bossman:

    The head seems to think that good old BSF will come riding along like a knight in shining armour and replace the entire network infrastructure and IT equipment so that it is brand new, shiny and state of the art instead of state of the arc!

    You are right by depleting the budget the kids will suffer and the worst part of it all is we are meant to be a specialist school of technology!

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    I have been handed the task of purchasing some new member servers for the school on a shoestring budget!
    Plenty of good second hand stuff out there. I've picked up 5 second hand IBM E servers on E-bay for less than £200 each. All still working [ touch wood ] and running well.
    Ones running WSUS & some other stuff, one is our database server [ Facility ], one is a BDC and the other a mySQL for our software and equipment database.
    Also got one as a test server...
    There are dedicated people out there like EuroPC - http://www.europc.co.uk/
    Who deal in second hand stuff...

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    You do not need a server for the Edexcel Onscreen Testing.

    The new software has a small client on any PC (Exams Officer) and client software (misleadingly titled 'Administrator').

    There, you can spend more on your other servers now

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    DMcCoy's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    unless you want to use more than 10 machines to do the test as it uses a shared folder. So you might need server 2003.

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    Quote Originally Posted by DMcCoy
    unless you want to use more than 10 machines to do the test as it uses a shared folder. So you might need server 2003.
    Just put the shared folder on a server, the program can go on a workstation. The shared folder on our network at the moment is 8Mb

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    Does that work Clare?

    How do you tell it where the shared folder is?

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    AngryITGuy's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    @ mrforgetful:

    Although I don't have it to hand at the moment and more worryingly I haven't seen it for a few days now.

    The installation CD for the new version of the edexcel online testing which I need to upgrade to by the 31st of this month said that the software has to be installed on a server which was not running IIS.

    Since we don't have a non IIS server to donate to the cause a new server seemed the best option considering the average number of seats per exam is about 20.

    I will post back the details from their instructions once I find that CD and the instructions!

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    I remember that now yeh.

    But also like yourself we use IIS pretty extensively.

    I'm awaiting Clare's tips on the remote folder as last year was a right pain having to be involved each week they tested. Was looking forward to the EO being able to do it all on his machine.

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    Re: Advice Required On Purchase Of New Servers

    Personally i wouldnt have 2 dedicated print servers. Our 2 print servers are just tagged onto the file and app servers (1 in each site like you) and they cope perfectly well.

    I suspect a single server running as a print server for the 2 sites plus edexcel would be fine, but then again that depends how much you use edexcel, and whether printing gets done at the same time (with us it doesnt)

    Id certainly have a seperate server for your staffs files.

    Just for comparison our setup is as follows; (300ish clients with 1300 users)

    2 DCs - 1 running DHCP, both running DNS. Both Opteron 144s with 1gb ram (though these will soon be upgraded to around 170 + 2gb ram spec, possible 1 with a new opteron series)

    File server - 2x Xeon E5310, 4gb ram. raid 5 SAS. Also a print server for 1 main computer room plus another 8 printers

    App server - 2x Xeon 3ghz, 2gb, raid 5 SAS. Only really acts as a place for msi's to sit awaiting deployment, as i prefer most things are installed locally. Theres only really Cascaid which is runs from it. Also it hosts our main intranet site (but soon wont). Print server for 3 main computer rooms plus around 6 more printers. Oh and it also contains our (manitory) profiles.

    App server 2 - 1x Xeon 2.4, 1gb ram, raid 5 SAS. Contains RIS/PXE images and has a virtual machine running debian as our new intranet server, hosting helpdesk, faq/knowledgebase, website testing, inventory, and room booking.

    The above seems to cope pervfectly well. The reason why these all have raid 5 SAS is they were all "main" file or app servers at one point and have since been recycled down.

    The only thing which may need improvement (barring the DCs) is the web hosting server. Thats part of the reason i went virtual as its easily moved to another server (plus no-one else here knows anything about linux so the ability to make and restore a fresh "snapshot" is great). It seems to be all coping so far so we'll see.

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