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Hardware Thread, Server replacement advice in Technical; As its almost new budget time we're looking to replace a few servers first one is over 3 years old ...
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    Server replacement advice

    As its almost new budget time we're looking to replace a few servers

    first one is over 3 years old and out of warranty so would like to replace it as matter of course (although with 450GB of space id be loathed to get rid of it)
    It currently acts as an apps server and also holds the common area

    second one is only a few years old but has some reliability issues so Id prefer to move it to a less important role
    It acts as a print server, Sophos server and RADIUS server. Stores IT Team data but that can go anywhere really

    Instead of buying 2 new ones, which would cost a lot, I was thinking of maybe buying one very decent one with plenty of space for the Apps server, with enough power to run the Print, Sophos etc on a virtual server. Is this a good idea?
    It would also give us back some valuable rack space

    Is it advisable to run fairly essential services virtually and would there be much of a performance hit? Considering Id be thinking about maybe a dual CPU dual (or quad) core machine with 4/8GB RAM

    Or if anyone has some completely different ideas Id be happy to hear them

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    projector1's Avatar
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    Re: Server replacement advice

    we are in a very similar position
    we need to address redundancy, storage and backing up. I have contacted a few ICT suppilers for consultancy. As they do this stuff all the time, we will get a better picture of what is the best way forward (major investment thus completelly analyse what is required to what is the common solutions being used)
    They will come in and give us there reccommendations. We have a rough picture of what we want.

    So my advice would to get some consultants in and see what they suggest, you do not have to buy what they say but it may make you look at the whole picture from a different angle

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Re: Server replacement advice

    I would be inclined to split the tasks still - you don't want to put too many tasks on a single server, loosing half your services is better than losing all of them if a server goes down.

    A bit of info could be useful - What amount of storage are you going to need from the server(s)? Is the 450GB that you have now all being used?

    How many applications, and what form of applications are being used on the storage server?

    EDIT: Just some indications on the direction I would go. I would go for a couple of HP Proliant DL360 G5's - one with 6 HDD's and one with 2. And processors/memory according to their roles (file server doesn't need loads of processor power or huge amounts of memory, but if you want to run applications on it too, add accordingly).

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    Re: Server replacement advice

    True, but I was thinking about it from the perspective that the parts running on a virtual server could easily be transferred to another host server in case of emergency

    We are not actually using all of the 450GB no, theres about 200GB free I think, and that covers all of our applications and common area

    Applications used are varied, lots of software that simply sits there and runs straight from the network. A few that need server end software for licencing etc. And for storage of software that needs to be installed via GPO or locally. Probably not THAT resource intensive to be honest.

    Not as if the server isnt coping, its a dual 3Ghz Xeon with 1GB RAM. It could do with more memory but probably alright apart from that.

    I just feel as its out of warranty (so we could get no quick replacements of failed drives) and it is now the oldest server, it could do with replacing. Could also give it some other roles with the extra power

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Re: Server replacement advice

    Yeah, it sounds like the same situation for 2 of our servers - and we have 2 of the HP proliant dl360 g5's with 2 146Gb SAS drives, dual 5150 processors and 2GB RAM each (could add some more in a year or so). I also have a Snap Server 520 with 2TB of storage which is connected via iSCSI in a very primitive SAN setup (over ethernet).

    This is a little overkill for your storage needs probably, you could use the extra 4 drive bays in one of the machines and make up the space you need that way.

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    john's Avatar
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    Re: Server replacement advice

    I will agree with the HP Proliants, I have used the ML370 G5 and that is great, so I'm sure the DL is just as good as they have been in the past.

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    m25man's Avatar
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    Re: Server replacement advice

    localzuk has the right idea.

    School networks have outgrown the old concept of Server + Raid Array = Good Network.

    With more and more users wanting to access more and more "different" services and a tenfold increase in user data storage requirements entry level SAN's are the way to go.

    iSCSI has already forced a massive reduction in pricing, the newer HP Switches support iSCSI out of the box, Host adapters are cheap and Server 2003 R2 has iSCSI support out of the box.

    Now re-assigning a disk volume located on a SAN can be re-assigned to another server on demand.
    Volumes can be duplicated expanded, assigned, re-allocated clustering is easier than ever.

    There are entry level systems coming on-line at less than 10k

    There will be winners and loosers, early adopters will pay a higher price but will master the technology earlier. Those that hold out will benefit from the cost cutting that will occur as result of higher demand.

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Re: Server replacement advice

    Don't forget you can DIY an iSCSI SAN with Linux too. Might be a good entry level option to prove the concept to the SMT.

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    Re: Server replacement advice

    DIY is certainly an attractive option. 10k might not sound like much to some schools but to me (in FE) it's an awful lot of money - equivalent to about 6 standard servers!

    I know it's "the future" and makes sense but we're looking for ways we can cut spending and SANs don't look like helping just yet.

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    Re: Server replacement advice

    Re: virtualisation, I see it as a good way to turn 3 servers into 2 - I don't like turning 2 into 1 as you do lose some resilience. Also, if you are going to virtualise, I would look at 2 VMs over VMWare enterprise or similar, so you dont have to worry so much about periphery on the "Host" OS and you get virtualisation type benefits (ease of moving etc.) for both servers.

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    Re: Server replacement advice

    It's also required for something like our Citrix servers. We're buying big boxes with 8Gb of ram in them but 32bit windows can only see 4Gb. So we'll have to run a 64bit Host OS and virtualise the machines into 2 or more virtual servers.

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    Re: Server replacement advice

    Quote Originally Posted by srochford
    10k might not sound like much to some schools but to me (in FE) it's an awful lot of money - equivalent to about 6 standard servers!
    But what versatility, need to add extra storage to an existing server put a HBA in it and your away, you can even boot from it!

    Loads of 1u Blades all plugged into a massive SAN Bliss!

    Just to P**s you of a school down the road from you "Found" 20k left over in the IT budget at the end of the year and gave the IT manager about 3 hrs to spend it. needless to say without proper time to plan the spend wisely they spent more than half of it on crap!

    At the other end of the scale most state schools would have spent 10K in the first few weeks on supply teachers so the IT budget get squeezed to counter for somebody elses bad management.

    I see it all, and in most cases to the victor goes the spoils.
    School Network Managers tend to be yes men happy to take whatever scraps they are given.

    There are a few who have excellent negotiation skills and secure a fair slice of the cake when it comes to budget time.

    Be adventurous write a business plan sell it to the SMT and push for as much as you can get away with, that way a 10K SAN could end up being just the cherry on the cake!

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    Re: Server replacement advice

    My SAN alone cost £20k

    I am running a large amount of server based applications though, I had 5 servers to replace, and was at least another 4 short.

    I then spent £80k (leased for 3 years - 4th year+ is much cheaper )

    Sounds a lot of money and it is. I did however replace the entire server structure in one go. This included tape library, SAN, Fibre channel switches, ESX software (its actually a lot cheaper now), gold support, cabinet, ups, backup software, backup server. I have a blade center with 6 blades running with 20+ VMs with room for another 15 or so, depending on use. Additional power was installed and Air conditioning.

    I'm sure some people out there are fainting at the cost, but don't forget this was the entire server infrastructure in one go, as little had been spent on servers for quite a long time.

    The replacements (not for a while yet) will be much cheaper (SAN prices have come down, same for ESX), and what do I have to do to move all the servers? Copy the images to a NAS, install the ESX hosts, copy the images to whatever new storage system is used and power them up. Can be done in 2-3 days if the testing has been done on the new system.

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    m25man's Avatar
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    Re: Server replacement advice

    Quote Originally Posted by DMcCoy
    My SAN alone cost £20k

    I have a blade center with 6 blades running with 20+ VMs with room for another 15 or so, depending on use.
    What spec blades are you using to host 20+ VMs ?

    And how are they weighted?
    Eg
    Blade 1 = DC1 100%
    Blade 2 = DC2, AV, Media @33,33,33
    Blade 3 = DNS, RIS, Radius @33,33,33
    Blade 4 = SQL1, SQL2, Linux Sandbox, Internet Filtering @35,25,15,25

    I have found it hard to run any more than 2 or 3 VS2005's on a single Xeon but running on Quads, VS is as good as a real server and I have had 8 VM's running on a single quad core.

    How do you do it? Any suggestions for this years Datacenter Deployments in our secondary schools or are we just going to roll over and have RM put a couple of CC4 boxes in uner a BSF contract for the next 10 years. 8O

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    Re: Server replacement advice

    Hello,

    I definitely recommend going to Virtual Machines for some tasks (though I personally would leave ISA Boxes, SQL Servers and Domain Controllers as physical servers). I've just put a server in here - a 2 x Quad 2.33GHz, with 8GB Ram and 2 x 73GB SAS HDD - 15K RPM that are Raid 1 to host the ESX Server and Swap Partition etc, and 4 x 300GB HDD SAS 15K RPM - RAID 10 to host the Virtual Machine Images. Performance is excellent - I'm amazed how little usage is made barely 2GHz is reached and that's running about 8 Virtual Machines, of which my Sophos Server and Printer Server is part of. I've noticed no performance issues since Virtualising these.

    What I'm looking at doing this year (budget dependent) is to upgrade the higher version of VMWare ESX Server and install an additional 8GB Ram, and then purchase an additional server to run VMWare ESX as a replacement for a couple of older ones. I'm also looking at buying a iSCSI SAN so I can host the VM Images on this and in case one server fails the VMWare ESX Server will simply transfer the VM Machines that were running on the failed one and then continue on the new one.

    Rob

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