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Hardware Thread, new primary school server in Technical; I have to justify a new server to the govenors - the current one is just an ordinary computer with ...
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    chrbb's Avatar
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    new primary school server

    I have to justify a new server to the govenors - the current one is just an ordinary computer with two hard drives, it's four years old and out of warranty. It also has roaming and mandatory profiles that I want to change to group policies.
    What spec would you look for in a server that will have 70 clients, run sophos, exchange, dhcp, dns, ad etc?

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    Re: new primary school server

    Dare I suggest another desktop

    Thats what I do at my primaries

    regards
    Simon

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    Re: new primary school server

    Your not at one of my old schools are you

    regards

    Simon

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    Re: new primary school server

    Put it this way If you tell them that if it fails Due to it not being a True if you have a minor failer ie hard drive goes down you lose the network until the hard drive can be replaced. Where if you had a real server with raid. We opted for 5 for that reason if you lose a hard drive you still have a working system untill you can get a new hard drive (hardware raid 5 with battery backup on a sata array) I am a happy man If i does fail get a new drive but while i am waiting i can still run server. where at the moment if a hard drive fails you 1 need to reinstall and depending on drive failer if it is on system drive bringing the server back could take up to a week. ( buy new hardrive recover and insure it works ok)

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    chrbb's Avatar
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    Re: new primary school server

    Lol no I'm not at one of your schools. I originally said to the head that I thought we should think about a new server for the next financial year 2008-2009 but was asked to get quotes now, which we have done but now the govenors need justification for the purchase.
    trouble is I now can't think of any justification!

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    Re: new primary school server

    Is the old server under warrenty? what happens if it tragically breaks to the point it's unfixable? How will that affect teaching & learning?

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    Re: new primary school server

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    Is the old server under warrenty? what happens if it tragically breaks to the point it's unfixable? How will that affect teaching & learning?
    It will 'teach' them to use RAID on a server that was designed to be a server (even possibly two servers) and they will 'learn' never to make the mistake again .

    Hehe j/k.

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    contink's Avatar
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    Re: new primary school server

    Having been in much the same position over the past few years I've found a few scenarios.

    1. An old desktop is the server (cue: Socket7 amd 2800 with 120gb space)
    ...or...
    2. A server with a high end box, CPU, fans and just one drive and minimal RAM

    So, in instance 1. I've opted for:
    - a good quality case with good air flow and plenty of fan sockets (120mm, etc..)
    - off-board RAID5 card like rocketraid 2230**
    - RAID5 array of 4 drives with 3 in use and one as a spare
    - If I can fit them, 2x 80gb drives using RAID 1 (mirror) for the OS
    - At least 1Gb of RAM
    - Reasonable CPU with excellent heatsink and cooling


    Note: ** Avoid on board RAID as a fried motherboard may mean lots of data you can't access because your board/RAID system is no longer available.


    As for scenario 2. I've usually ended up adding in a couple of additional drives and building a RAID 5 array from that lot, or using the existing disk as the OS disk and adding the RAID5 setup described above
    ... oh, and adding in some RAM.


    Never fails to amaze me that there are primaries who were convinced to buy what amounts to a high end machine with no failover redundancy and/or naff all disk space to actually handle their data..

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    alonebfg's Avatar
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    Re: new primary school server

    well the justtifacation is the fact at the moment you have a single poit of failure ie the server and I think in this day and age even in a primary school a server need to be the robust mchine on the network with as many backup points of failer as possable.

  10. #10
    kerrymoralee9280
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    Re: new primary school server

    The problem with school's, especially primaries is the budget. And unless you have a support SMT and team of governors theres not a lot you can do.

    Before we got a new head we were spending money constantly (for justified things) but now, we need 20 new laptops as a matter of urgency and to be truthfull we're having trouble getting the cash released.

    Does a primary school really need 4 HDD's in it's server? Maybe so, but is it as justified to spend that kind of money as much as it would be for a normal organisation? If you're asking me, I think a very cheap ProLiant DL server would do the job.

    Oh, and don't run exchange on your primary server. NOT a good idea at all. Buy a seperate box for it.

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    Re: new primary school server

    Quote Originally Posted by kerrymoralee9280
    Does a primary school really need 4 HDD's in it's server? Maybe so, but is it as justified to spend that kind of money as much as it would be for a normal organisation? If you're asking me, I think a very cheap ProLiant DL server would do the job.
    Yes, even though budgets in primaries are low. The server contains all the data pertaining to the kids. It is the single most important piece of equipment in a school. If you lose data due to not having enough redundancy/resiliency then the head will be in a lot of trouble with the DfES and the LEA.

    A cheap proliant would do the job, until it broke. Then you'd have a very much harder time repairing the damage than if you simply found the extra few hundred quid in the first place.

    For a resilient and well designed server, you should be talking about £1500 for a primary. For a cheap one you'd be talking £1000 for named or £600 that for DIY/desktop+bits.

    Imagine if, due to sever failure, you couldn't complete the school census, or the school couldn't check the medical notes of a child etc...

    So my advice is, point out what wouldn't work if the server breaks, how much it would cost the school in terms of finance, lost teaching time, admin time etc...

  12. #12
    kerrymoralee9280
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    Re: new primary school server

    Localzuk - I see your point and it is a very valid point at that. But most information can be restored very quickly to another server if needed that urgently.

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    Re: new primary school server

    Thanks for the comments - the server is only a curriculum one, the personal pupil details are held on the admin system. my personal preference is a 2 harddrive mirrored lowish price range branded server.

    All the staff have laptops, and my next move is to get rid of roaming profiles and get the staff to use their drives on the server rather than relying on their laptops. Their documents roam, but some staff hibernate their machines and refuse to reboot them which negates the roaming profiles (I think). I want them to get into the habit of backing up their data to the server which then backed up twice weekly.

  14. #14
    kerrymoralee9280
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    Re: new primary school server

    What will you be mirroring? Because if it's the system files that's fine.

    But it's when you start mirroring data when things get slow. Maybe you could mirror 2 HDD's with the file system and have a 3rd basic disk with data for staff and students. That way if the system disk fails it will keep on running, but if the data disk fails you have your twice weekly backups to rely on.

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    Re: new primary school server

    @localzuk

    Its all to do with priorities and the way things are run.

    Our county support generally install and support all admin systems in primaries in Lancs.

    These machines are simple p2p systems with the "server" being a standard computer.

    They are simply backed up nightly and the philosophy is that in the event of failure, county will provide a temp replacement and restore the data onto it. Usually sorted with couple of days.

    This is very cost-effective for the schools and the downside is loss of data access for a few days - which they can generally live with.

    I employ the same philosophy for curric servers - if it goes badly wrong - I'd come in - take another machine out of curric use and make that the server and restore the data onto it.

    This situation occured for the first time in 4 years just before half term - took me 1/2 day to get back to normal (motherboard failed - so simply had to swap hard drive into identical machine - always make sure you have another identical machine )

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