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Hardware Thread, Servers in Technical; For a project I need to design a server room and therefore need to select some servers to rack in ...
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    Edu-IT's Avatar
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    Servers

    For a project I need to design a server room and therefore need to select some servers to rack in this room. Servers aren't really my forte so I'm hoping to get some advise from the more knowledgeable people here. I understand that this is only a project and nothing will ever come of this so I could really just pick and choose any server regardless of whether it'll be suitable, because I doubt anybody checking my project will go into that much detail, but nevertheless I want to do it properly and pick appropriate hardware where possible. It'll also be a chance for me to learn something.

    I've identified that I need 6 servers in total for the scenario I have chosen.
    • PDC/print server
    • BDC
    • 3 x file servers
    • Web server/Exchange server
    I would appreciate it if somebody could advise me as to what would be a good specification for the servers listed above based on the fact that there will be a maximum of 60 concurrent users, excluding those connected to the web server/exchange server from outside the building.

    If you can think of anything else I need to factor in then let me know.

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Instead of file servers have you considered SAN or NAS instead of file servers? I would recommend dell because if you have the right warranty they are speedy at sorting the problem (if one should happen)
    Also do you need a proxy or sims server?

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    6 servers for 60 clients?

    I would have thought pretty much anything would handle that

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-Greatermanchester View Post
    Instead of file servers have you considered SAN or NAS instead of file servers? I would recommend dell because if you have the right warranty they are speedy at sorting the problem (if one should happen)
    Also do you need a proxy or sims server?
    No I haven't although I've written quite a lot of information already so it's probably a little too late to change my plans now. Warranty isn't an issue because nothing will come of this. In the plan I've included a Smoothwall box.

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    For such a low load system, I'd look at using a bunch of HP DL360 G5's with either dual core or quad core processors (probably dual quad cores, as they aren't exactly expensive) - none of them are really going to be highly taxed, 4GB - 8GB ram each, and, depending on the role, either 72GB SAS disks or 146GB SAS disks. And I'd run Windows 2003 Enterprise on them, to make proper use of the memory if I went for 8GB).

    These would still be quite cheap anyway. Probably about 2.5k each on average.

    But then, all of that would be overkill for the system really, as we have servers half that spec running 3 times as many concurrent connections. (our school setup is 2 AD servers, one also running DNS and DHCP, the other doubling as our main file server, print server and application server. 1 Sims server, 1 virtual machine server - with 3 VM's running linux for various functions, 1 proxy server. These are specced with dual dual-core xeon's at 2Ghz, 2GB RAM each and a mix of hard disks. Main storage is on an iSCSI device which the file server is mapped to).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edu-IT View Post
    • PDC/print server
    • BDC
    • 3 x file servers
    • Web server/Exchange server
    I would appreciate it if somebody could advise me as to what would be a good specification for the servers listed above based on the fact that there will be a maximum of 60 concurrent users, excluding those connected to the web server/exchange server from outside the building.

    If you can think of anything else I need to factor in then let me know.
    Buy 3 decent servers with multiple dual/quad core processors with proper hardware RAID that can take half-a-dozen harddrives - maybe something like the Dell PowerEdge 2970 (1000 basic unit, but expect that to at least double by the time you've added bits). Stuff each with 8GB of RAM. Then set each machine up as a virtual server host and split your listed servers up over them. Give each virtual server its own RAID 1 array to stop disk-accesses interfering with each and slowing things down. Give the host OS a separate RAID 1 array, too. If they have the expansion room, install another gigabit network card in each and get the host OS to combine them into one 2-gigabit connection.

    You might want to get another machine to act as a gateway / web filter / DHCP / etc machine. We're getting a couple of cheap (literally 100) Dell server to do this.

    If running a web server, consider the upload bandwidth available - if you're on a plain ADSL connection it will be considerably less than the download bandwidth. Could go for ADSL2+ (quite cheap - 30 - 50 a month), some kind of leased line connection, or consider using an external web hosting company to host your website (depends what's on it - wouldn't recommend that for your VLE as local access would then be over the Internet).

    --
    David Hicks

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    For the domain controllers I would go with 2 dual core workstations/low end servers with standard equipment inside. This allows you to image them quickly and be able to swap parts in an emergency. I moved my DC's from a big raid jobbie to a nice small server and it really makes a difference in a disaster recovery situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ittech View Post
    For the domain controllers I would go with 2 dual core workstations/low end servers with standard equipment inside. This allows you to image them quickly and be able to swap parts in an emergency. I moved my DC's from a big raid jobbie to a nice small server and it really makes a difference in a disaster recovery situation.
    So your DC's don't have RAID??

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    Warranty isn't an issue because nothing will come of this. In the plan I've included a Smoothwall box.
    Well the plan isn't viable without warrenties on your servers, so what would be the point of making a plan that couldn't work?

    FWIW I agree with the VM model, but I'd keep the file server on a separate box/disks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edu-IT View Post
    For a project I need to design a server room and therefore need to select some servers to rack in this room. Servers aren't really my forte so I'm hoping to get some advise from the more knowledgeable people here. I understand that this is only a project and nothing will ever come of this so I could really just pick and choose any server regardless of whether it'll be suitable, because I doubt anybody checking my project will go into that much detail, but nevertheless I want to do it properly and pick appropriate hardware where possible. It'll also be a chance for me to learn something.

    I've identified that I need 6 servers in total for the scenario I have chosen.
    • PDC/print server
    • BDC
    • 3 x file servers
    • Web server/Exchange server
    I would appreciate it if somebody could advise me as to what would be a good specification for the servers listed above based on the fact that there will be a maximum of 60 concurrent users, excluding those connected to the web server/exchange server from outside the building.

    If you can think of anything else I need to factor in then let me know.

    We have that sort of set-up here. We got some very cheap RM servers to do the job. They are 2GHz dual core processor, 2GB of RAM, 2x500GB hard drives. They are absolutley fine (although i would recommend getting about 3-4 GB RAM) We have about 70-80 connected at one time and this does not affect the performance at all. (we are currently running the servers at 100mbits because our 1gpit switch went funny last week and we cannot afford to replace it until end of march!

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    Thanks for the recommendations and advice.

    As I mentioned above one of the servers above will act as a web server/exchange server. Do I need to setup a DMZ? I've tried to get my head around this before but it's difficult to explain something when you don't know it in enough detail.

    Quote Originally Posted by psydii View Post
    Well the plan isn't viable without warrenties on your servers, so what would be the point of making a plan that couldn't work?
    I do not need to mention warranties.

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    Sorry but I don't understand where you are coming from about warranty. Its something important in the event your server dies. All our servers have 4 hours 24 x 7 response. You don't want your server to break and it costing a fortune and then making the job hard of not finding the right parts and taking them ages to arrive etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-Greatermanchester View Post
    Sorry but I don't understand where you are coming from about warranty. Its something important in the event your server dies. All our servers have 4 hours 24 x 7 response. You don't want your server to break and it costing a fortune and then making the job hard of not finding the right parts and taking them ages to arrive etc.
    I agree but for this I do not need to write about the maintenance of the network.

    You might want to get another machine to act as a gateway / web filter / DHCP / etc machine. We're getting a couple of cheap (literally 100) Dell server to do this.
    I've already included a SmoothWall SmoothGuard, do I still need a gateway? My plan was to just connect the router provided by the ISP to a switch.

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    I know where you are coming from but surely you would want us to share our experiences with the service on warranty work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edu-IT View Post
    As I mentioned above one of the servers above will act as a web server/exchange server. Do I need to setup a DMZ? I've tried to get my head around this before but it's difficult to explain something when you don't know it in enough detail.
    If you're going to expose it to the world, then yes, but you need to consider how you'll authenticate exchange users.

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