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Hardware Thread, Hardware Recommendations for School Server in Technical; Hi all Wondering if you could help me figure out what i actually need in the way of a server ...
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    Maximus's Avatar
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    Question Hardware Recommendations for School Server

    Hi all

    Wondering if you could help me figure out what i actually need in the way of a server for my school rather than getting something with lots of bells and whistles that we will never use.

    I work at a small village primary school with about 100 pupils and 12 - 15 staff.

    We have around 30+ laptops for pupils, 8 Desktop Pc's for teachers, and around 6 teacher laptops.

    The laptops run across a wireless network with the rest wired. We currently only run programs like RM Maths from the server (I believe it is just the pupils progress that is saved rather than running the whole app over the next work).

    At the moment we have an old server running windows 2003 server with AD. and acts as a print server for our two colour network laser printers.

    I would like to automate as much of the network as possible. i.e. WSUS, antivirus, Backups, and some sort of software deployment solution such as SpecOpsDeploy (we are using more and more software and i don't have the time to install it on every machine).

    Obviously we need a server (or servers) that will last so what sort of spec should i be looking for that will cater our needs, I've been looking at something like a Compaq (HP) ML370, is this a bit of an over kill or will it be about right for what we need. Also is it worth splitting the roles over two servers? Say PDC, AD on one and file and print on another. And what about Antivirus, WSUS and IIS etc? We have the budget for a good spec ML370 or two lower spec Compacs.

    There is the possibility that we will go across to Exchange in the future, but this is uncertain at present.

    I guess the question I am asking is do we stick it all on one server or split across two? And what spec should I go for?

    Any ideas and suggestions would be most welcome.
    Regards
    Ivan

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    IF you dont mind me asking, what role(s) do you have at the school and how many hours do you have each week to devote to developing and maintaining your ICT facilities.

    And what LEA are you with? (do they supply "free" antivirus and the like?)

    regards

    Simon

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    Michael's Avatar
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    I would spend in the region of £1,000 to £1,500 for a server which should easily be able to 'serve' your school.

    I would stick with 2003 Server and Active Directory. The only other recommendation I can offer is to have at least 2GB of memory installed and at least three hard drives.

    One for Windows (System Drive), 2nd for user data/network drives and a 3rd for WSUS, Anti Virus etc...

    You should also consider whether you need a Tape drive or are you going to backup to file, to an external storage device.

    Another consideration is the warranty of the server. Very important and is often overlooked.

    Hope this helps.

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    Maximus (26th February 2008)

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    first of all, the fact you already run a server that has 2003 on it. makes me beleve that you might aswell(unless you intend to sell it?) buy 1 server and then demote your old one to print server and possibly a intranet server(i can't see it needing anything high spec to run a WAMP/iis for a school ur size)

    as for server spec.. i think people in the edu sector will know more then me. unless u want a quad socket quad core AMD server with 24GB of ram and 24TB of HDD space? lol..(thats what i built a couple of weeks back for work..)

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Talking

    @Tom-Kirby - That's one mighty spec. How much did that cost to build? And for any school, that would be serious overkill.

    What would this server be used for primarily?

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    Hi
    I have two afternoons and a lesson on a thursday for IT maintenance which has to include everything from changing printer cartridges to looking after the server. I also act as the schools ICT coordinator, ICT and D&T coordinator and have a few sessions a week as a HLTA teaching ICT. The rest of the time i work as an LSA in year 5 and 6.

    However that said if anything goes wrong, i usually get released from what ever i'm doing to fix any problems.

    I'm also going to ask for a couple or three weeks to get the new server up and running (we'll see if i get it or not!!! ) ).

    I look in the Northampton LEA and we don't get any free antivirus.

    Thanks Ivan

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    The server is used for Win2003 PDC, AD, DCHP, DNS, File & print, web server and user data for apps such as RM Maths and other curricullum software. I also need WSUS, antivirus (we have this already although its not working at the mo.) and something like SpecOpsDeploy.

    Ivan

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    Er, for a small village school of about 25 desktops and 10-15 laptops I recently got a HP Proliant ML110 off the shelf and upgraded it myself. Total cost for hardware was under £250 ex VAT. I already had a UPS so this may need to be factored in.

    Its a Xeon 3040 1.86Ghz Dual Core
    1Gb RAM
    2 * 160Gb HD in RAID

    In runs Windows Server 2003 SP2 file and is the DC, DNS, DHCP, File and Print Server.

    Craig

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    Maximus (26th February 2008)

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    As Craig already suggested a HP ML 110 with some more RAM and some decent hard drives would be more than adequite for what you require. I have installed a few of these recently and have to say for the money are excellent value, not to mention a 3 year warrenty included in the price.

    http://uk.insight.com/apps/productpr...2%26S%3D300149

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    Maximus (26th February 2008)

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    I'm ICT coordinator in a similar situation. 400 pupil school, around 60 computers and me, who fixes everything with a plug.

    Last week I just upgraded our 5 year old server. To be fair, there was nothing wrong with the old server, it ran fine with all (and more) of the services you are describing. But the hard drive almost failed, I got away with it but I really wanted something with RAID mirroring (2 hard drives mirrored so if one fails, the other will step in straight away - Restoring from backup is time consuming and not much fun!). Putting RAID in the old server wasn't much less than a new one.

    I got a HP ProLiant ML310 G5 - Tower Dual-Core Xeon 3065 / 2.33 GHz - RAM 1 GB. 3yr onsite warranty - £279.64. Got double memory for free (2gb total) and an extra hard drive (£54) for raid (it had 2 in already, it turned out, so now I have 3).
    Windows Server licence was extra. (not alot).
    Don't believe the online prices. There are always discounts to be had (Ebuyer are competitive esp. if you put them against Misco).
    I could have spent £1000 on a server, but, TBH, it won't make things any faster or better. That money would be better spent upgrading the machines.

    I was thinking of using my old server for something, but then I'm giving a critical job to something that could be unreliable. Perhaps, you could use yours as a proxy server? I think I'll just mine as a workstation.

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    Maximus (26th February 2008)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    @Tom-Kirby - That's one mighty spec. How much did that cost to build? And for any school, that would be serious overkill.

    What would this server be used for primarily?

    i think it was around 15-16,000

    it had 2 raid cards in it costing 400 each. 3 hotswap redundant power supply, built into a chenbro 5U case(that is close to 2 grand itsself..)

    i really really really don't know what it will be used for! i hate to think hehe. backup of the entire internet maybe? lol

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    Is it worth splitting WSUS and Antivirus etc onto another server, so if one is playing up and needs a reboot/rebuild you don't need to take down the whole network?

    What about email? I've tried using POP3 and SMTP on the Win2003Serv with LDAP for distribution lists, but the distribution lists don't seem to stay with the user profile when they go from one pc to another.

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom-Kirby View Post
    i think it was around 15-16,000

    it had 2 raid cards in it costing 400 each. 3 hotswap redundant power supply, built into a chenbro 5U case(that is close to 2 grand itsself..)

    i really really really don't know what it will be used for! i hate to think hehe. backup of the entire internet maybe? lol
    is that 24TB of internal storage ?

    the only server that i've come across in a similar form factor that can accomodate that sort of storage is Sun's 'thumper' which is actually more of a JBOD storage solution rather than a server....

    and the thumper weighs a ton, it needs a specialised rack and special supports for installation on raised floor environments.

    you're 15k server with it's two RAID cards is a pretty cheap disk based backup and archive appliance if you ask me ? ;-)

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    Yeah, as eean mentioned Ebuyer, thats where I got my hardware from!

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    If it was me I would be aiming to spend that little bit extra to get something like an hp ML310 as with those you can add things like a redundant power supply and use propper hardware accelerated RAID. This may seem excessive at the start but it will save you from untold amounts of stress when something goes pop.

    Instead of sitting around waiting for your parts to arrive in most cases the system can just keep going and no one except you and the service agent are any the wiser of the fault.

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