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Hardware Thread, Suggestions for server selection in Technical; I'm not part of a school district IT department, but a programmer/sole IT of a small enterprise. I periodically visit ...
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    Suggestions for server selection

    I'm not part of a school district IT department, but a programmer/sole IT of a small enterprise. I periodically visit this forum as I find it has a wealth of information that interests me. The company I work for is behind the times, and we're looking to migrate our workgroup network into a domain (roughly 70 users at this branch office). I would like to setup two servers for now... one active directory, DHCP, DNS, and another to provide backup and shared storage, as well as other services like sophos antivirus. What would you recommend for the first server? I was looking at a DL380 G7 with two Xeon x5660 processors, 24GB of memory, and six 600GB 10,000 RPM HDDs in raid 5 (2 smaller drives in mirrored array for OS). This seems like overkill for the few services I would put on without virtualizing. What kind of specs would you do for the two servers? Any response is appreciated.
    Last edited by Adam2737; 21st June 2012 at 09:42 PM.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Depends on exactly how heavy your usage footprint is. Personally I'd stick with that spec and a copy of 2008 R2 Enterprise so that you can just VM them both on the one box.

    If you are running databases then you will want decent amounts of RAM and it is comparitivly cheap and gives you expantion room.

    You can easily put a 2k8 DC with AV and GUI in 2-3GB of RAM and probably 4+GB for files and Apps assuming they use built in DBs along with 3GB for the host partition (Hyper-V as its really easy to manage and setup). Enterprise gives you four VMs so you can eaaily split roles to implify and isolate it out a bit. Data capacity is all dependent on how much data you need to house. Scrap the seporate drives for the OS and just use one big RAID array partitioned off for better disk space and speed utilisation. You may also want to look at RAID6 depending on your backup and uptime needs.

    The more uptime you need the more duplication you need so you'd be acfter two servers with shared storage through something like a fast NAS/SAN so that VMs can failover between them.

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    twin--turbo's Avatar
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    Despite having HP servers for our main production environment, my preference has always personaly been Dell Poweredge ..

    I would, in your situation look at virtualisation and determine if it is right for you.. 2 units a cheep physical DC / backup server combined with a more beefy virtual server hypervisor is probably the most effective solution.

    TT

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    Personally - as you mention but stick an SD card in the machine (slot on the mobo). install ESXI on it (free basic version will do) then install your vm's ontop of that.

    Depending on future expansion plans - Look at Small Business server (max 75 users tho but get premium add-on for extra functionality) if not then look at the full versions of softwares.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    Depending on future expansion plans - Look at Small Business server (max 75 users tho but get premium add-on for extra functionality) if not then look at the full versions of softwares.
    ESXi is good if you don't need the extra hardware support and free for live migration as you can use Hyper-V R2 (free VM platform) or Server Enterprise with the Hyper-V role.

    Personally I'd Avoid SBS if you can as it is a big pile of hyper integrated stuff that makes some things easy but quickly becomes an untenible mess if you go outside the wizards or something weird happens.

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    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    ESXi is good if you don't need the extra hardware support and free for live migration as you can use Hyper-V R2 (free VM platform) or Server Enterprise with the Hyper-V role.

    Personally I'd Avoid SBS if you can as it is a big pile of hyper integrated stuff that makes some things easy but quickly becomes an untenible mess if you go outside the wizards or something weird happens.
    I should have said SBS is good for what it does but is a pita! What extra hardware support do you need? being such a small footprint means it saves 2 disk drive slots on the server (potentially in this case about 1tb) The only things we tend to struggle with is Licensing dongles but looking for solutions to that at the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    I should have said SBS is good for what it does but is a pita! What extra hardware support do you need? being such a small footprint means it saves 2 disk drive slots on the server (potentially in this case about 1tb) The only things we tend to struggle with is Licensing dongles but looking for solutions to that at the moment.
    As above I wouldn't bother with a seporate array for just the host OS, that is extremely old school and rather inefficient in anything other than very specific circumstances. An extra 60 GB off the main array is not that much but I do take your point that you can eek out a little more from the hardware with ESXi as it needs less RAM too. If you end up with random hardware like extra eSATA cards or anything Hyper-V is lots more tollerant.

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    SBS is out of the question since it wouldn't allow us to grow without having to purchase new licensing. We actually have other branch offices that we may want to add to these services later on. My initial idea was to have a simple DC, DNS, and DHCP to make management easier and improve security, as well as a shared file system to store important documents, files, etc... The environment has a only a few power users, and for some users it would be beneficial to have a roaming profile or redirected folders. Virtualization with a SAN sounds like an ideal solution, but that could easily double my budget of around $12,000 USD for this year.

    Just a step in the right direction this year, would it be better to purchase a smaller spec 1u server for DC, DNS, and DHCP? We could then use a similar 2u server as mentioned above (maybe 2 x quads) to provide backup DC, DNS, DHCP, anti-virus and file storage? The active directory and DNS services would be the most crucial to have high availability.

    Thanks for all the replies. You guys don't waste anytime =)

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    I should also mention that our mission critical application is already on its own server and SAN. These additional servers would be to just manage the windows clients.

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