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Hardware Thread, Server requirement help in Technical; Hi there! First off , this will be the first "Server" setup which ill be attempting , and in general ...
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    Server requirement help

    Hi there!

    First off , this will be the first "Server" setup which ill be attempting , and in general it would probably be better to get some "experts" to do the whole setup / instalation and layout , but im in a unique situation where i cant really get any "better" help , anyways im quite capable of doing it myself ( i think xD) anyways off to the point.

    Basically what i need , is a server that would work as a DB for +-50 users , or other computers , the "data load" will be quite heavy as all the content that will be stored on the server and taken from it will mostly be graphical content of big capacity. So the server will need some decent storage room , and has to be able to cope with a lot of data traffic. The Main purpouse of it is for users to send "Finished" projects to it , where someone else can get it again and continue with his part of work etc. ( The content as ive mentioned can be quite big , sometimes up to 100gb per project...)

    Money is not a big problem , but performance is , so please , if theres anyone that can point me in the general direction of what kind of server setup to purchase , that would be greatly appreciated , also , if theres anything else you need to know, feel free to ask.

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    kesomir's Avatar
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    I'm going to assume that the 50 users will be accessing concurrently rather than sharing workstations.

    This is somewhat confusing:

    Basically what i need , is a server that would work as a DB for +-50 users
    then

    the "data load" will be quite heavy as all the content that will be stored on the server and taken from it will mostly be graphical content of big capacity
    I'm going to assume you mean you need a file server for 50 users as per the second quote and that you may be running database software on it as well.

    I'm also going to assume you're running a windows based network with server 2003 or server 2008.

    You need gigabit networking the each desktop, and for the sizes you're talking I'd recommend something decent - either HP Procurve or CISCO Switches. (HP do a 48port gigabit switch at around £1500 - HP2800-48G). That said, a 100GB project will take a while to push to the server - if these are being done concurrently, you'll need a faster pipe to the server - 10gig maybe?

    As for storage space: SATA drives can be had quite cheap to build up to a large amount of storage space. SAS drives are much more expensive, but are better suited to raid arrays and where data integrity is critical. If money is no object - you'll want an enterprise SAS storage system.

    You're going to want whichever it is it in a RAID array.

    HP do some devices that can be connected to their servers for holding racks of drives, and I recommend their servers as well. Dells are also good value (perhaps more than HP), but in general HP's customer service is IMHO better than Dell.

    Your best bet is to phone a supplier (EG: A2Z, Dell, HP directly) and talk your requirements through with one of them.

    If money is no object, and the sizes are as you describe, what you need may be some serious set of kit.

    ie: in the '£65,000 for a switch' range of serious kit.

    That's above my personal experience though - maybe someone else can be more helpful.
    Last edited by kesomir; 7th June 2008 at 01:13 PM.

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    I would agree with Kesomir's suggestion regarding the switches. However, if money isn't a huge concern, I would recommend some IBM kit for the main system - specifically the EXP 3000 SAS drive array. This gives you 12 drives within a cabinet and you can use either SAS or SATA drives. In choosing which though, bear in mind that although SAS drives are more reliable and have the higher seek times, they have an upper limit of 300Gb/drive at the moment, whereas SATA drives go up to 1Tb/drive. I also believe (although I may be mistaken) that this array can handle RAID6 (N+2 redundancy) which would give you more tolerance of disk failures as you will be looking at LTO4 or greater I think to back all of this up!

    Cheers,

    Rob.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Auntpol View Post
    The Main purpose of it is for users to send "Finished" projects to it , where someone else can get it again and continue with his part of work etc (the content as I've mentioned can be quite big , sometimes up to 100gb per project...)
    We've been looking at a system from SCL Online (forum sponsors). They're a smaller company than the likes of Dell and so on, so you have the advantage that you get to talk to someone who knows what they're on about, instead of a random marketing bod. Mark Watkins at SCL has been very helpful and very knowledgeable and should be able to sort you out with a decent server system.

    You don't need anything complicated as such, just a great big RAID server. Processor performance isn't important, but disk performance will be. If you have the money, as you say you do, get SAS drives You might also want an external dedicated drive caddy to hold drives. You're probably looking at a system with 15 or so drives in to get the storage you need. If you do run out of money buying SAS drives, then I'd say switch to WD VelociRaptor drives - 300GB, 10,000RPM, kind of a (the only?) half-way point between "consumer" SATA and "pro" SAS drives.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Thanks for the replies so far ,

    yeah i figured id need a pretty decent switch and so on , but what i was mainly worried about , was the type of Server id need to get to "cope" with this. because i have no idea which parts would be crucial , e.g. ram , processor , drives etc.

    but yeah , ill see if i can give some of these people a call , in the mean time , any Tips / Point of views are welcome

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auntpol View Post
    Thanks for the replies so far ,

    yeah i figured id need a pretty decent switch and so on , but what i was mainly worried about , was the type of Server id need to get to "cope" with this. because i have no idea which parts would be crucial , e.g. ram , processor , drives etc.

    but yeah , ill see if i can give some of these people a call , in the mean time , any Tips / Point of views are welcome
    use one of the many sizing tools/resources avaiable for the chosen appliation for this server, i'm still none the wiser as to what you want this server to do, but if it's a sql server use the appropriate sizing methodology.

    I personally would recommend an energy smart server where possible, power consumption in the back end is a big consideration these days.

    Lots of RAM, minimum 4GB....hot-swap SAS disks minimum of six internal, dual-core dual socket....thebig four will all provide a server that meets this basic requirement, rack mount or tower.

    The benefits of going with a big four is the support available and the mgmt tools available....dell's openmanage is a mature product that is invaluable for troubleshooting problems....dell's DRAC remote diagnostics is also terrific, a quick look at the front panel diag or hard drive LED's and cross reference with info in the manual will tell you all you need to know about what's happening, and DRAC can be used for when you need more specifi info an can be setup to send notification via SNMP of what's gone wrong and where....

    IBM's Director is probably the best mgmt product of the lot, Sun have an impressive package with Sun Management Centre...but openmanage i like a lot.

    A dark horse option might be one of Sun's intel x86 servers, they do one model which can accomdate 6 hot-swap drives in a 1U chassis!!!!

    if i had the money i wouldn't go white box. If my choice was based purely on the support available then it would be Dell - the tech support from dell is second to none, HP are well behind in terms of support.
    Last edited by torledo; 7th June 2008 at 04:32 PM.

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    kesomir's Avatar
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    In order:

    Drives
    Connection
    RAM (to a point)
    CPU

    I think that CPU only really comes into play with a lot of data where you have excessive packet fragmentation - that's where the switch(es) / connection will help.

    I also think individual drives can transfer sustained between 30-60MB/s, so using some form of RAID striping for performance is to increase that. SAS is best suited to this sort of work - yes more expensive than SATA, but price isn't an issue.

    I think that PXI interface can handle about 6BG/s data throughput, but well before that point your 1GB ethernet connection is the bottleneck.

    Then there's DFS and other methods of clustering to load balance. I guess it's dependent on whether more than one person is likely to be transferring 100GB of data at the same time because ultimately your client station's ability to read this from the local HHD and transmit it over the network will be the bottleneck if you aren't pushing separate files concurrently.

    IN that case, spending tonnes on the rest is a waste -> you'd be better off buying more storage for the price.



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