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Hardware Thread, New Server Advice Request (Post Flood) in Technical; Sorry, this is a long message, hopefully the next sentence will garner your sympathy, and get you reading to the ...
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    duncane's Avatar
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    New Server Advice Request (Post Flood)

    Sorry, this is a long message, hopefully the next sentence will garner your sympathy, and get you reading to the end :-)

    Over the Christmas Holidays we had a flood of biblical proportions in our server room.

    Everything's stable and running well enough (we lost a couple of days - most of which were due to the room being recovered), but I need to replace a number of servers (three of which died out-right, one of which I can't trust).

    My school will be closing September 2011, but another school will take over the site, decomissioning the site after a couple more years.

    The servers were in-place before I arrived, and I only took over a Manager position at the end of the summer holidays.

    Our two most "advanced" servers are our fileserver (Intel Xeon with dual cores, 4GB of memory, SATA disks and software RAID-5) and our SIMS server (Intel Xeon with quad cores, 4GB of memory SATA disks and software RAID-1). All our servers run Windows Server 2003 (some running R2).

    Our SIMS database is to be decomissioned, and will exist purely for historical data, once the school closes.

    We've a budget of upto 4500, and I'd like to get two/three servers to replace the four that perished. Ideally they would be capable of virtualisation.

    I could just get three (almost) like-for-like replacements (the SCL X-Serve Dual Quad-Core with 8GB of memory and 4 x 500MB disks at 1500 each) and do some shuffling. However these have software RAID, and I would have liked to try virtualisation. (I know I could boot off a another disk, and enable software RAID for storing the virtual images in the free version of XenServer, but it's not supported).

    So what do I need?

    1. New SIMS Server (only use SQL Express 2008, and will not need be written to in 6-months time.)
    2. New generic server for running ALAN testing, SuccessMaker, WSUS from.
    3. Server for running Smoothwall Net Guardian - I could move our fileserver to a new server, and repurpose the fileserver for Smoothwall.
    SATA drives were good enough for our original servers, so I'm wondering if I can get away with them - they're much cheaper. We only have 450 students, and that number is going to get fewer and fewer after we shut.

    Sorry for the waffling.

    Cheers,
    Duncan.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    I'd say speak to ICT-Direct (ict-direct.co.uk). They're a sponsor around on here and specialise in refurbished equipment. You may get a good deal on some second hand ones from them.

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    duncane (7th February 2011)

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    Im confused by the "budget", aren't you covered by Insurance and hence a New for Old scheme?

    Also Smoothwall doesnt need anything special to run, glorified desktops work fine. You coudl save money there to put towards your other servers.

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    duncane (7th February 2011)

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    zag
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    I would buy 3 Dell R300s, that's what I use for all my servers that do virtualization. Put Hyper-V on them and run all the essential servers from there except the file server.

    Although you can't put smoothwall on hyper-v so I would just put that on a desktop with an SSD drive in it.

    Then I would buy another basic dell server with an extra RAID5 card and 3 x 1tb hard disk upgrade to run as the file server.

    Should easily get that for under 4k.

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    duncane (7th February 2011)

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    duncane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Achandler View Post
    Im confused by the "budget", aren't you covered by Insurance and hence a New for Old scheme?
    We are covered. The servers were of varying ages / specification, so I came up with a rough estimate based on their mean cost. I was thinking that I might be able to get something better by reducing the number of replacement servers, but increasing their specification. This may not be the right way to think about it, in which case I welcome your advice.
    Last edited by duncane; 7th February 2011 at 06:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zag View Post
    Although you can't put smoothwall on hyper-v so I would just put that on a desktop with an SSD drive in it.
    Their sales staff cheefully informed me it worked on both VMWare and Xen, though, so you can use either of those and run Smoothwall as a VM. From experience, make sure you assign your VM a fixed MAC address (Xen, by default, dishes out a random one each boot if you don't define anything), otherwise Smoothwall sees a new network card every time it restarts and gets very confused. Also, check Smoothwall's requirments - I think it needs something like 200GB of disk space if you want to be able to keep a decent amount of logs.

    Personally, I'd keep your exisiting file server to serve user files and spend the 4,500 on a new, larger file server for backups (just build one - get a case and a bunch of 2TB harddrives, no need for hardware RAID for a backup machine) and two servers to run Debian + DRBD + Xen, with the two servers mirroring each other (at least one from somewhere other than the same flood-prone server room...).

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    duncane (8th February 2011)

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    duncane's Avatar
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    I've been a bit busy (playing with the new servers - yay!).

    I'd just like to give a shout out to Garsham Robertson at JosKos. He went above and beyond the call of duty, researching a solution, and offering us a price break down that allowed me to make a more informed decision. (I went for a slightly different solution, which I'm very happy with - if I hadn't had the prices I wouldn't have thought I'd be able to afford the specification.)

    I had to do the obligatory three quotes, and found myself crossing my fingers that JosKos wouldn't be massively undercut, because I wanted to reward them for their help. I needed have worried - they were the significantly lowest quote I received. I was well impressed!

    Thanks,
    Duncan.

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