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Windows Server 2008 R2 Thread, upgrade paths and general advice. in Technical; I was going to hold off posting this until after Xmas but I figured why not get the advice in ...
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    upgrade paths and general advice.

    I was going to hold off posting this until after Xmas but I figured why not get the advice in now while everyone can still think straight before xmas kicks in and we fill our selfs with all sorts of food and ear pearcing xmas songs :P

    Our current ICT setup consist of 2 Servers and including laptops and almost obsolete netbook about 148~ clients


    server 1 is 32bit with 3GB Ram
    Processor Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.20GHz, 3192 Mhz, 1 Core(s), 2 Logical Processor(s)

    server 2 is 64bit 4GB Ram
    Processor Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X3220 @ 2.40GHz, 2400 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)

    Both servers Run server 2008
    ad we have 10 Desktops in the staffroom that run win 7 and 15 new laptops ( as of 3 - 4 weeks ago)laptops are also on win 7

    What I have proposed to the IT coordinator is a new server. now granted that our second server could be recondition to provde us with maybe a few years use but the primary reason to get a new server is the opotunity to get a Shortdepth rack mount that will fit in 1 of our switch cabinets ultimatly eleiminateing the hidous site of 2 big ugly Servers situated in the corner of our IT suite inches or should I said centermeters from kids that sit near that corner.

    I've had a glace at a few prices and componenets but I'm not so clued up on server components so a little advices on whats best to go for would be appreciated, to put it into perspective I've come from a home PC hobiest background. I've spent over 1k on my own machine nearly twice and had my eye on the components industry on and off so I pick up stuff easily.

    now the acctual role the server must be capable of a is Network shares, AD , DNC, DHCP, Print management.

    Thoes are the core Roles, I would like to at some point set up WIFI authentication as apose to preshared key but that isnt vital. another role which would be nice is VPN access. I dont expect it to have to manage a shed load of connections, say 10 -20 max and it's likely that staff wouldnt over use the service anyway. so as of this time the above core roles are split betwen both servers. Would 1 server be able to cope with the propose roles and an average of 40 systems demanding load, I'd expect so.

    Now since we have server 2008 what upgrade paths are available to switch to R2.
    would I have to repurchase windows server? can I just upgrade the licence and either receive or download the new install disk? would it have to be an inplace upgrade. since the server I want to install would be a clean system it would require confiuration from the ground up

    I'm quite thrilled at the prospect of configureing a server from the ground up for my own benifit not to mention a fresh system for all it's users. out current server just seem like thye stuggle and I'm always having to reset the print spooler or they feels slow to respond or just in general they are a few years old and new and brand new is always nice. bsides I plan to provide documentation which is almost non existant in the current setup.

    Btw I'm working at this school as part of a 12 month apprenticeship placement which is due to end from april - jul ( actual course work was started late) but it's likly I'll be on for another year to complete the next level. I work here from 8:30 - 4 monday - friday and the school pay a computer support and maintenace company for 1 half day visit everyweek and emergency call outs.


    I think thats everything I had to say

    Thanks for reading

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Server 1 is going to be approx. 7+ years old and Server 2 approx. 4 years old, so I would probably look at replacing both.

    Whether you build or buy a new server, it should come with 2008 R2. You should also aim to have 4GB-8GB of RAM as of course it's all 64Bit. You would need to re-purchase it, as 2008 and 2008 R2 are considered different versions. 2008 = Vista Server and 2008 R2 = 7 Server.

    To introduce a 2008 R2 server to your network, you need to update the schema on your current role master. You can then join a 2008 R2 server, and promote it to a domain controller. You can then transfer other roles, such as DHCP, DNS, File/Print services and FSMO roles.

    It's all fairly straight forward. I make it sound easy, but it's all about the planning. Seeing as your school do use an external company, I would certainly consult them as to your upgrade strategy and timeline. It's better to keep everyone in the loop and to avoid surprises.

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    What i intend to do is build the server from scratch and migrate nothing but user files.
    Do you think I will need 2 servers? I figured getting rid of these old one's an replacing it with just 1 up to date machine would be efficient enough for the ammount of clients we use.


    can anyone recommend a supplier for complete servers or at least individual components because I'm capable of building it my self. if the price is right a pre built server would save me the time.

    thank

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RageRiot View Post
    What i intend to do is build the server from scratch and migrate nothing but user files.
    Do you think I will need 2 servers? I figured getting rid of these old one's an replacing it with just 1 up to date machine would be efficient enough for the ammount of clients we use.


    can anyone recommend a supplier for complete servers or at least individual components because I'm capable of building it my self. if the price is right a pre built server would save me the time.

    thank
    Yes, you probably could merge 2 Servers into 1. I would recommend an Intel based Server. I've used/built many of these. Xeon flavours vary quite a lot these days in terms of socket, bus speed, cache and clock speed. I would look at Intel's site for the latest info on specs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RageRiot View Post
    can anyone recommend a supplier for complete servers or at least individual components
    If you're planning on fitting this server into a switch cabinet with no cooling you'll have to think about the heat it produces - maybe try someone like Very PC or Tranquil PC, who speacialise in energy efficient, passivly-cooled PCs/servers.

    If you're going to build you own, I'd look at LinITX for components - they sell some very useful-looking internal harddrive caddies that can turn a couple of standard 5.25" bays into a hot-swap RAID array. Coupled with one of Antec's server cases (check Antec's website for moel numbers and see where you find it cheapest - they sell a couple of shorter rackmounts) you should be able to build yourself a server capable of a decent amount of processing and with a decent amount of storage.

    If you want one bit of hardware to handle various roles, put as much RAM as you can into the machine and use it to run virtual machines. I'd use one of your current servers as a backup server at some point if you can find somewhere out of the way to park it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    If you're planning on fitting this server into a switch cabinet with no cooling you'll have to think about the heat it produces - maybe try someone like Very PC or Tranquil PC, who speacialise in energy efficient, passivly-cooled PCs/servers.

    If you're going to build you own, I'd look at LinITX for components - they sell some very useful-looking internal harddrive caddies that can turn a couple of standard 5.25" bays into a hot-swap RAID array. Coupled with one of Antec's server cases (check Antec's website for moel numbers and see where you find it cheapest - they sell a couple of shorter rackmounts) you should be able to build yourself a server capable of a decent amount of processing and with a decent amount of storage.

    If you want one bit of hardware to handle various roles, put as much RAM as you can into the machine and use it to run virtual machines. I'd use one of your current servers as a backup server at some point if you can find somewhere out of the way to park it.

    The rack I plan to put it in has approximately 5 or 6 1U spaces.
    I'm going to need a UPS in one of the bays.

    6GB should be enough ?

    what I would like is 2 TB in the server but on a Raid.

    My current backup strategy has been to use 2 1TB external HDD to back up each server we currently have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RageRiot View Post
    I'm going to need a UPS in one of the bays.
    Is this switch cabinet wall mounted? Rack-mount UPSes are quite heavy. If you just need the UPS to last long enough to shut the server down then a "home" UPS built like a multi-way plug socket would be lighter.

    6GB should be enough?
    You might as well get as much RAM as you can afford.

    what I would like is 2 TB in the server but on a Raid.
    Again, you might as well get at least 2TB disks while you're at it.

    My home server is a passivly-cooled Tranquil PC machine with a Core i5 processor and an external RAID array created from two external harddrives on eSATA connections, all connected to a home UPS as described above. You could use something similar for your server if you have to squeeze it in to a switch cabinet - get something with a modern motherboard with USB3 connectors and connect a couple of external harddrives, and probably get an i7 processor and as much RAM as you can afford.

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    I didnt think about the weight of a Rack mounted UPS, I figured because of ever changing battery tech they would be lighter.

    I've got about 1k to spend plus maybe a few 100 more. depends on whats left of the IT budget.

    as for Raid, I was thinking of Raid 0 + 1, if I did, would it be safe to do away with external HDD back ups since this rad would provide fault tolerrence. I supose it would still be ideal to take a back up that can be moved away I just find it tedious connecting a USB drive all the time then when done I store it in the school safe.

    I might be trying to be a bit abitious with all of this after looking at a few prices. and if I have to repurchase win Server 2008 to get R2 that kinda messed things up abit.


    Thanks for your input so far anyway

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    A few thoughts:

    A rack designed for switches isn’t designed with the cooling necessary for servers / UPS’s. I believe server racks are also deeper than most switch racks. Your server should be in a temperature controlled (ideally air-conditioned) environment which is also secure (data protection) from burglars / visitors / children / teachers. If a server will actually fit in your switch rack it will probably cook in a very short time unless the cab has been specifically designed for that purpose.

    Build it yourself? Be very careful it means you / the school has no support if something breaks, also who is going to support it if you leave? I would seriously consider involving any external ICT providers the school uses / the LEA ICT people and getting a prebuilt unit from the likes of HP / Dell etc…

    Server 1 – scrap
    Server 2 – make it a member server; use it to host WSUS, machine images, school intranet page, print server etc… i.e. any none critical roles that will take some of the load of your new server.

    Raid – Essential, I know entry level servers are being shipped with cheap 0+1 controllers but all the servers we have are raid 5 with a spare hot swap drive in them.

    Backup – don’t even think about relying on raid as a means of protecting your data, raid adds some redundancy nothing else. What happens if: 2 drives fail at the same time, the raid controller fails, a teacher deletes the contents of a common drive, the array becomes corrupted or the server bursts into flames? Do you want to tell your users that they have just lost 5 years work?

    I would get a few quotes and tell them they need to up the budget, the LTO backup drive I have in our DC cost about the same as you’re spending on your entire server.

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    Update:

    first of all happy new year !

    I've decided to go back on my orgonal idea to get a rack mountable server for our 2nd comms cab and just buy a new tower.
    Here's the latest quote I've received


    CPU, RAID5, E3 Series Xeon
    £1,399.00
    1 x Intel Server System P4304BTLSHCN, Pedestal, 4 x 3.5" Hot Swap
    1 x E3-1230 Xeon Quad Core, 3.2GHz, HT, Turbo, 8MB L3 Processor
    2 x Server 4GB DDRIII1333 ECC CL9 (HMT351U7MFR8C-H9T0)
    4 x 500GB Enterprise Class SATA Seagate Constellation
    1 x LSI RAID Controller & cables for up to 4 drives or expanders
    1 x RAID Configuration - RAID5 using add-in RAID controller
    1 x Lite-On iHAS122 22x DVD/RW Drive (Dual Layer)
    1 x Single Power Leads
    1 x Serial Numbered Item
    1 x 3 Year Onsite Server Hardware Warranty
    1 x Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server Standard OLP License (P73-04966)
    £ 89.00 £89.00
    4 x Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server Standard CAL (OLP)
    £ 5.99 £23.96
    1 x Carriage
    £25



    Net Total £ 1,536.96
    VAT £ 307.39
    Total £ 1,844.35

    So the idea is this will replace our curently old and crappy servers with a shiny new single server.
    Budgest doesnt allow for me to purchase a UPS Just yet but we have ran the server without for while but I intent to purchase one when the budgest is renew early this year.


    Thanks

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    X-13's Avatar
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    "Ghetto" UPS

    Might be something to consider... Learn something new and get a working UPS out of it.


    But if the budget is shot, waiting may be the only option.


    Also, a 12-days-late happy new year to you too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RageRiot View Post
    Update: Budgest doesnt allow for me to purchase a UPS Just yet but we have ran the server without for while


    Two things I noticed other than missing UPS
    1. No mention of tape drive / backup solution
    2. Raid 5 using only 4 drives - not sure how they are going to be configured but its not ideal, if all 4 drives are live then you dont have a spare hot swap if you are using 3 in the array and the forth is a spare hot swap the server will be unavailable if a drive fails until the array rebuilds with the hotswap. With 5 drives the array keeps working if one fails, ideally you would also have a hot swap i.e. 6 drives. Some will say that you should also mirror the OS and have a seperate array for the data.

    Note: I have had drives fail in brand new servers the more redundancy the better!
    Last edited by ToyHeartsFan; 12th January 2012 at 12:20 PM. Reason: typo

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    Printer servers are best on there own server as drivers for printers crash.

    Richard

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricki View Post
    Printer servers are best on there own server as drivers for printers crash.

    Richard
    Two things that fix that issue:
    2008R2 - driver isolation
    Virtualisation

    A few things though RageRiot:
    Any reason for buying a DVD drive for the server? OS can be installed via so many other means these days it's a bit of a useless tool, all you need is a pen drive really.
    Thought of putting vmware ESXi on there? tis free software if you don't need vcenter and gives a lot more possibilities for the server. Just buy a decent amount of ram.
    Thought of looking at the HP ML300 series servers? They can sit either in a rack or as a tower, highly expandable and you get the benefit of HPs warranty service if anything goes wrong opposed to an unbranded/self built tower.
    You should really look at a tape backup solution, backing up on to disk only can be a bit risky.
    Server 1 = scrap, server 2 = like ToyHeartsFan says, use it for various small jobs that aren't critical.
    Lastly the roles you mention the new server will be doing (DC roles and file server roles going by the OP) need sod all resources hence the VM recommendation, seperate them into 2 VMs, give them both 1GB ram each (seriously, don't need more than that once they're setup and running) and 1 CPU thread allocation each and they'll sit churning away in the background leaving you the rest of the servers resources to play with.
    Last edited by mrbios; 12th January 2012 at 01:18 PM.

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    apart from having very little knowlege of VMware I seriously dont think I need it. all the client machines around the school have eveything they need on them.

    I currently back up via 1TB USB external HDD so I wont need tape drives.
    I would like the server to last long enough without making them swaet the first day I get them.
    and I also the first server will be scrap plus I have no real reason to keep the 2nd server for anything.

    While the remarks regarding the Raid 5 array are valid and important I cant justify spending anymore money on a another HDD and a controller which has 5 ports instead of 4 just for the benifit of No downtime, we are a primary schoool so it would be different if we were a high school. besides I'd have a bigger budget.

    Really what I was asking from my last post was, is the quoted system decent for the price. this already has gone over budget a tad and I havnt cleared anything with admin yet.

    I'll look into the HP system mentioned.

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