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Windows Server 2000/2003 Thread, Help with configuring new W2K3 server in Technical; So before I get into everything let me give you a little history. Our current tech coordinator and myself took ...
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    Help with configuring new W2K3 server

    So before I get into everything let me give you a little history. Our current tech coordinator and myself took over a system running Novell 6.5 without Zenworks. Our current setup has 4 Novell servers, one for teachers, one for students, one for server apps, and the other, umm...I think just storage. We have approx. 700 computers in our school district spread across 8 buildings, however, only 4 are using the servers and accounts.

    We just got a Dell PowerEdge 2950 and want to consolidate a little but we have a few questions. I apologize ahead of time here for how dumb these questions will be as we are new to the server realm (we basically just had experience fixing home computers) and need some advice to the best/most practical setups for our needs.

    Our PE has 6 400GB drives and a PERC 6/i RAID controller. We need (as we are limited as any school with budget constraints) to use this server for multiple roles. I will break down what we need and hopefully some of you can chime in with some suggestions. Please try to suggest things that don't require buying 2 or 3 more servers as at this time won't be possible. If more servers are really warranted maybe a suggestion can be made that would allow for migration to that later.

    1. Active Directory (For all faculty and students)
    2. Storage for all accounts created in AD
    3. DHCP Server
    4. IIS for Accounting Software package
    5. Time clock software
    6. Ghosting/Imaging server

    So with what we are going to need and with about 2.4TB of space what are some suggested ways to split/partition/organize the drives. I have been told to use RAID 5 but am not sure the best way to set that up with my software.

    If anyone can provide some help for us it would be much appreciated.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    First things first, the RAID level of the drives is just the way in which they are grouped together and determines ho fault tollerant your system is. RAID5 splits the data out across all of your drives and has parity checks. This means that one of your drives can fail, you still keep all of your data and your system keeps running. RAID6 is simmilar but will allow two drives to fail. You can set this up from the firmware interface: watch for a message saying press this key to enter RAID or PERC configuration utility while the server is booting and go from there. There may also be a freindlier configuration utility for it on a CD that came with the server, boot the server with the CD in and it should run. RAID must be setup at the beginning so it will erase all the stuff on the drives, you want one virtual drive that spans all of the disks probably in RAID5 or 6.

    With the setup mentioned above you do not really need multiple servers although you may benifit from virtualising the main server into a couple of virtual servers. Virtualisation just allows you to take one physical hardware box and make two or more virtual computers run on it. In this way your single server can run two or more complete and isolated copies of the server OS inside it which can be rebooted and reconfigured seporatly. Virtualisation actually comes free with Windows Server 2008 and is called Hyper-V. The enterprise liscence allows you to run up to four virtual copies of windows on your single box.

    For simplicity for the moment you will be able to get away with a single OS. You want about a 30GB system partition, setup when you install windows server. This will isolate the core bits of windows from user documents storage so that they can't fill up the drive with files and end up grinding windows to a halt. The rest of the drive can just be a single large NTFS partiton ( created through windows drive manager from the free space) which can be shared out for different tasks.

    AD and DHCP are tiny services which don't need to much storage space. The rest of the services can be set to point to folders on your larger data partition. These folders can be shared out individually so that the network users can access them, like UserDocument$ . With each users documents in a seporat folder underneath it.

    The imaging software can also point to a shared folder on the data drive. If you are not using anything currently I suggest WDS which is also free with Windows Server.

    Not to sure what you mean with the time clock software. If you mean setting all of the domain joined pcs times then this is handled by windows already.

    If any of the software that you want to run does not play nicely with the other stuff you may need to use Hyper-V or another virtualisation solution to create virtual server that run the programs indipendantly.

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    speckytecky (8th March 2009)

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    Thanks for your reply. After reading your reply I think I will just leave the system setup as it was delivered. It is setup using RAID 5 with a 20GB OS partition, a 100GB partition for software and 7TB of storage space. I was just looking to see if it was wise to keep that partition setup.

    As for the Hyper-V, I am afraid this is Windows 2003 so I can't make use of the virtual servers.

    And for our Time Clock software it is just a small MSSQL database that records time punches from employees when they arrive and leave.

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to respond.

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