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Hardware Thread, Can Someone Suggest A Server Spec For Me? in Technical; Hi, so i have an I.T upgrade coming up and i'm struggling to fall in budget with what I have ...
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    Can Someone Suggest A Server Spec For Me?

    Hi, so i have an I.T upgrade coming up and i'm struggling to fall in budget with what I have specced up so far. I am concerned though that i'm going a bit too gung ho on spec and that i could possible save a fair bit there. However I'd like some opinions on what level spec i should be aiming for when you consider my requirements. They are:

    We have 35 users. I'd like to have something in place to support 150 or have the ability to make quick upgrades to support this number.
    We have 200gb of data currently, so i would want a RAID storage solution to hold this.
    A backup solution to backup this data and servers on a daily, weekly and monthly rotation to a disk and then usb hard disk
    We have 3 servers
    A new 16 port managed gigabit switch.
    A physical server to run Hyper-V with 3? Virtual servers. Thinking:
    Server 1: DC, DHCP, DNS
    Server 2: File and Print
    Server 3: AntiVirus, WSUS, WDS
    A second physical server to run as a DC and to have a backup solution (DPM or Veeam?) running on it with storage attached to back up to.
    A UPC to run both servers from if needs be.
    Any server CALS i might need.

    The only applications typically used by users are a web browser and Microsoft Office. So very low level stuff.

    So i've had people telling me to use 2 x quad core xeons etc but if someone can help and just throw out rough suggestions of the level i should be looking at for my equipment, well that would be greatly appreciated!

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    for such a small setup I'd be inclined to spend the money on a fast and redundant internet connection and run the servers on EC2/S3.
    Failing that a samba server with about 2GB RAM would do.

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    we already have redundant internet connection. I dont want everything outsourced in 'the cloud' the CEO is keen to use the cloud so i figured we would leave our email hosting offsite and move to Office 365 email. the rest i want to do in-house though.

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    fair enough.
    For comparison, our fileservers are running Dual Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5420 @ 2.50GHz with 2GB RAM and serve 2000 users around 2TB data.
    The load is extremely low and licensing costs nothing. If you are seriously struggling to fall within budget I would suggest reading up on KVM and Samba.

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    Your solution is about right, what I would say is don't skimp on the hardware, there are leasing options to spread the cost. What you have is a pretty resilient solution, so don't skimp on the number of servers. You can drop down to 1 quad core for the size of network and load, but that's not going to make a tremendous difference to price. If your looking at expanding to 150 users, your data is going to increase massively, I would allow 2TB, sounds big but your looking at a 5 fold increase in staff so that's 5 x 200Gb minimum.
    What I found when working in business is that as long as you can fully justify it, the business owners want the right solution which will work for the expected period of time, what they don't want is unexpected costs down the line, so if you are cutting back, make sure they fully understand there may be future expenditure and get that in writing.
    Last edited by teejay; 23rd May 2012 at 11:41 PM.

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    Ok, what i currently spec'd out was Xeon E5620 cpus for the virtual host, with 32GB RAM so that each VM and host OS could have 8GB RAM. is this overkill??
    I've got dual nics for 4 nics and was originally thinking of start at 500GB of usable RAID 5 SAS disk space for data, but a solution where i could add in disks easily and quickly as we near hitting that limit.

    The backup server i thought 2TB of usable RAID5 SATA storage space to store backups, again would this be too much under utilised?

    The licensing is what is killing me, if i want to run 3 VM's it means Server 2008 Enterprise then another standard license for the 2nd DC/Backup console but if people think 3 VM's is a good way to split my roles between then i guess its a cost that cant be avoided?

    A quick question in relation to CALS, i only need 35 CALS for the network, i dont need 35 CALS for each server do i?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    Ok, what i currently spec'd out was Xeon E5620 cpus for the virtual host, with 32GB RAM so that each VM and host OS could have 8GB RAM. is this overkill??
    not for windows, that sound like a good solution.
    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    I've got dual nics for 4 nics and was originally thinking of start at 500GB of usable RAID 5 SAS disk space for data, but a solution where i could add in disks easily and quickly as we near hitting that limit.
    consider a NAS system. QNAP are good. SAS is overkill for this sort of thing. You can mount the disks over iscsi perhaps.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    The licensing is what is killing me, if i want to run 3 VM's it means Server 2008 Enterprise then another standard license for the 2nd DC/Backup console but if people think 3 VM's is a good way to split my roles between then i guess its a cost that cant be avoided?
    You don't need the licenses if you use KVM/Samba. If you can't do that for whatever reason then you pay for the licenses.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    A quick question in relation to CALS, i only need 35 CALS for the network, i dont need 35 CALS for each server do i?
    no

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Yep, 35 CALS in total. You could run on less ram, 4gb for most machines would be ok but ram is pretty cheap. 500Gb is a bit low and upgrading a raid array to more capacity is a complete pain, so would suggest you look at more space.

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    I think where i'm having trouble is the 2nd server. Its to run stand alone as a 2nd DC as well run backup software from. We have an old Dell server with a P3 processor in which i reckon i could run as a DC, but i think it would struggle to run backup software on too. Is there any other backup solution anyone can suggest rather than buying a whole never server and storage for?

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    teejay's Avatar
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    There are a lot of relatively cheap NAS type boxes that will do what you need, you could then run the DC on a much cheaper server and run the backup software as a vm pointing to the NAS.
    The P3 seriously wants skipping, that's at least 10 years old, don't rely on it at all!

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    When looking at servers, you really have to approach it from a 'how critical is your network' point of view. If your single server, running everything, goes down, how much is it going to cost your organisation? You haven't said what type of organisation it is. If it is a company, I'd be thinking downtime means lost income and lost profit.

    Personally, I'd be looking at getting 2 servers for running everything on, and some form of shared storage between them. A QNAP NAS would do the trick.

    The servers wouldn't need to be very powerful at all from what you've described. Even for expanding to 150 users, I'd be looking at something like the DL385 with a single CPU and 32GB RAM (RAM is cheap anyway), with a couple of small drives to store the virtual server OS. 2 of them would handle the load brilliantly.

    With the amount of data you have too, I'd be looking at a NAS box with RAID 1 rather than RAID 5, as it is faster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by teejay View Post
    There are a lot of relatively cheap NAS type boxes that will do what you need, you could then run the DC on a much cheaper server and run the backup software as a vm pointing to the NAS.
    The P3 seriously wants skipping, that's at least 10 years old, don't rely on it at all!
    If i ran the backup software as a VM and the physical server died lets say, would that not make it difficult to restore everything if the backup admin console was on a VM that i'm technically trying to restore? Is that a good idea as it would certainly save me a whole lot of money i think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    When looking at servers, you really have to approach it from a 'how critical is your network' point of view. If your single server, running everything, goes down, how much is it going to cost your organisation? You haven't said what type of organisation it is. If it is a company, I'd be thinking downtime means lost income and lost profit.

    Personally, I'd be looking at getting 2 servers for running everything on, and some form of shared storage between them. A QNAP NAS would do the trick.

    The servers wouldn't need to be very powerful at all from what you've described. Even for expanding to 150 users, I'd be looking at something like the DL385 with a single CPU and 32GB RAM (RAM is cheap anyway), with a couple of small drives to store the virtual server OS. 2 of them would handle the load brilliantly.

    With the amount of data you have too, I'd be looking at a NAS box with RAID 1 rather than RAID 5, as it is faster.
    I did flirt with the idea of a NAS but wasn't sure and i think i'd prefer to go with RAID 5 to help me sleep a bit better at night. And do you think i could run 3 or 4 VM's on a single CPU, assuming a quad core?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    I did flirt with the idea of a NAS but wasn't sure and i think i'd prefer to go with RAID 5 to help me sleep a bit better at night. And do you think i could run 3 or 4 VM's on a single CPU, assuming a quad core?


    NAS and RAID 5 are not mutually exclusive!
    Last edited by CyberNerd; 24th May 2012 at 07:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    I did flirt with the idea of a NAS but wasn't sure and i think i'd prefer to go with RAID 5 to help me sleep a bit better at night. And do you think i could run 3 or 4 VM's on a single CPU, assuming a quad core?
    Nearly all NAS devices run disks in RAID. RAID 5 doesn't help me sleep at night - there's more chance of something going wrong with it than RAID 1.

    And the load on your servers will be pretty low (AD/DNS/DHCP are miniscule in terms of resource requirements, as is WSUS and print). File and WDS will want some network bandwidth but won't be using much CPU. I'd be surprised to see a single quad core hit more than 10% average use.



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