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Windows Server 2000/2003 Thread, Input please in Technical; Hello, I am currently working at a small primary school (bout 100 computers), however over the last few years it ...
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    neon's Avatar
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    Input please

    Hello,

    I am currently working at a small primary school (bout 100 computers), however over the last few years it has grown with repect to number of computers equipment etc etc...
    I am a bit of a noob when it comes to servers, I have basic knowledge and learn as I go along really. However I am now thinking about upgrading our current server... It is basically a PC, windows server 2003, pentium 4 2.80ghz processor, with only 512mb of ram and a 120gb hard drive... not even a gig link to the comms cabinet.... I think its terrible.

    Any thoughts on what I should be looking for or upgrading to welcomed and greatly appreciated.

    Thank you
    Last edited by neon; 28th October 2009 at 09:03 AM.

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    The underlying machine could well be up to the task set - how many PCs are you running on the network? I'd always have at least 1GB of RAM with Server 2003, and with any server I'd be using RAID for peace of mind. So, I'd look at a memory upgrade (should be cheap!), and a pair of matching hard drives with a RAID card or an onboard RAID solution that may be adequate. Can you not put in a run of cable for a Gb link for comms?

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    neon's Avatar
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    The server is right next to the comms cabinet but no on board gig lan card... Got about 100 computers and no-one has said anyhting to me about the server being old or slow so nothing has been done, I just thought it was important and I needed to look at it so Im getting some ideas
    How would you go about setting up a RAID arrangment with the server already up and running? Sorry for newbie question but can I just copy across the hard drive onto one of the 2 raid arranged hard drives?

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    I'd look at getting a new server, they might not notice it being old or slow, but they will notice if it fails! I'd go for a new server from one of the big suppliers, Dell or HP etc.

    You should be able to get a good spec server for around 1500 with a 3 year warranty. You'll also need to look at some sort of backup solution if you haven't already got one? Perhaps a few external usb hard disks you can rotate on a daily basis?

    Steve

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    neon's Avatar
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    I have 2 500gb external hard drives, I rotate them every week and back up every other day. However if the hard drive fails as suggested I dont have anything in reserve, also like I say im not to experienced so would struggle to get it up and running without the help of a third party which would not only take time but also cost a fair amount anyway at a guess...
    How hard is it to build a server? 1500 is quite a bit and dont think the school will let me just say I want one... the motto here is "if it aint broke don't fix it" will need to put something together saying how poor the current server is etc etc... also how hard is it after getting a new server to copy across all the data settings etc...? Sorry for so many questions

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    RinSewand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neon View Post
    no-one has said anything to me about the server being old or slow so nothing has been done
    If that's the case then do YOU think it's slow? how are log on times etc, acceptable to everyone? If so you ARE effectively saying 'i just want one' and what you might want to look at is making the one you have more resiliant - as 3s-gtech says. Making a case for 'how poor the current server is' may be difficult if it is actually doing the job properly. Making a case for having a better redundant system and illustrating how bad the loss of that server would be should be much easier however. Perhaps push for a new server and use the current one as a backup?

    If they are willing to fork out, get something that already has gbit, raid, redundant PSUs etc, and though you can build them, I'd imagine the majority don't.

    And no - you can't jsut dump the HDD you have into raid, I'm sure you could achieve something with ghosting, but it'd be far better (IMO) to do a fresh install!

    RwD

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    neon's Avatar
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    I think the server is slow, and sometimes our wireless sends out limited or no connectivity across the place, I restart the server and all is good? seperate issue but unsure where its from? DHCP?
    Any way, I definatly want to look at upgrading the stuff we have if not replacing, I think it will be easier like you say to make a case out of "if this happens were screwed" I dont think teachers/staff realize how dependant on ICT they really are.

    I dont have any of the disks for windows server so would have to buy new server + windows server 2003 software again? + time to configure it... may be not such a good idea after all...

    Thank you

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    Upping the memory should be relatively inexpensive, pci gigabit card will help as well.

    Lean on some of the local secondaries for someone to pop down and have a coffee with you and a look one afternoon as sharing ideas between a couple of heads on the ground is always good.

    I wouldn't replace it for the sake of replacing it but if you're running into problems and it's not redundant (disks etc) you could be in a spot of hot water depending upon how reliant everyone is on it if it failed, that's grounds enough for most arguments.

    Windows disks won't be a problem, Neil at Ramesys should sort you some out for a few pounds assuming you have a license for it (whch i'm sure you will) and then CALs etc for each user/computer.

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    neon's Avatar
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    Thank you to everyone for the input and quick responses!

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    You say its a small primary, but with around 360 pupils on roll (according to your website!), you're far from the smallest ever. (I support some with around 120 on roll)

    Does this "server" also serve the admin network - e.g SIMS or the equivelant as well?

    Do you have any sort of disaster recovery plan in place? It might be worth spending some time with the head and defining what would be an acceptable loss for data, and acceptable downtime for various parts of the network. For example, the following may be acceptable:

    Pupils work, up to 2 days lost, down for up to 24 hours.
    SIMS Pupil data, up to 4 hours lost, down for up to 12 hours
    Internet access, Down for up to 2 days.

    One you have this defined, you can then go back and list what you need to stand a chance of achieving this. (you may find they are unrealistic about how little downtime is acceptable, until they see the cost of achiving it, then a comprimise is found in the middle somewhere)

    Do you have an allocated IT budget? For a school of that size I typically get between 5k - 16k per year for IT excluding consumables, with around 10k being average.

    Steve

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    neon's Avatar
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    Yep, website is correct bout 365 on role here, so not overly small but not like a secondary or a large primary. pretty run of the mill to be honest.
    We have a second server which serves the admin network, however the server in question does server sims.net and dinner money round to all of the teachers...
    We have little in place in the way of disaster recovery, I looked at a company in the past, they offered server and network support same day... but was pricey so thought better of it. I have back ups in place so if anything did happen it wouldnt mean substantial loss. The admin network is backed up daily and ciriculum every other day.
    I do get a budget but everything has to be authorised im not given free will with it, everything has to be costed and people convinced of its worth before purchase. Partly why I posted on here, just doing a bit of research. getting peoples thoughts etc before putting anything down.

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    Disaster recover doesn't have to invlolve anyone external, it can just be a plan that you would impliment if something went wrong. For example when we first started out with just 1 server, our disaster recovery plan in the event of a major failure of that server was to use a high spec workstation we had as a temporary replacement - it had an extra disk in it with server installed on it, ready to be plugged in and go if there was a problem - would have taken around 4 hours or so to get the network back up.

    My biggest school has 420 on roll - I now get a budget of around 25k per year, although in the past this was around 50k a year, when we were trying to get things sorted a few years back. We have 2 file servers / domain controllers, a SQL server for sims, an exchange server and 2 terminal servers all in a dedicated server room. Luckily I have the full support of the head and school business manager, and IT has been a priority here for over 5 years now.

    One of the hardest parts in this job is getting management to understand what needs to be done, and ideally to trust your judgment. Not something that always happens quickly - I have some schools in a similar situation to yours.

    The best thing to do is put everything in writing, and try and come up with a 3 year plan to get things to where you want to be, with costs for everything included. It will either mean they will listen, and you can improve things, or it will cover you when things go wrong and you haven't the resources to sort it out.

    Steve

  13. Thanks to steveg from:

    neon (28th October 2009)

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    chrbb's Avatar
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    Your job, situation etc sounds very similar to mine, we invested in an HP server with raid, 2 and a half years ago, installed and configured by a local company that does alot of work for our LEA. They installed the 'twiddly' bits and I did the rest, also I can ring them in a panic and there are very helpful.

    I like the idea of a 'spare' server set up on an extra disk in a workstation, first job when I get back after half term!

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    ^^I'm paranoid about downtime, so I made a spare with an old server and set it up as a secondary domain controller. Very handy, and ridiculously easy to do!

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    Any tips? Or actually complete instructions

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