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Windows Server 2008 R2 Thread, Any Problems With This Proposed Server Setup? in Technical; I work for a small company with 35 employees. The company is growing though. Currently we just have a workgroup ...
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    Any Problems With This Proposed Server Setup?

    I work for a small company with 35 employees. The company is growing though. Currently we just have a workgroup network setup, with no servers, all connecting to the internet through a sonicwall router. Currently all of the servies we use are web based and hosted offsite.

    There is a bit of money available to 'advance' things and i'm thinking of doing the following.

    Buy a decent spec server and install Hyper V and create a Virtual server on it and have it running as a DC, DHCP, DNS, WSUS, Print Server (we only have 3) and install Anti-virus admin panel.
    Then back this up using windows backup.

    Our file storage is currently outsourced along with our email. To make things smooth im thinking setup what ive proposed above then eventually bring file storage in house, maybe add a 2nd VM to share roles and eventually a 2nd physical server to start doing proper backups and to act a 2nd DC.

    So would that 1 server setup a) be considered 'good practice' and b) can anyone point out something i may be missing and need to consider?

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    somabc's Avatar
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    I think given the fairly low cost of servers you should start with 2 Physical servers, even if the second one is the cheapest you can find. You will appreciate the flexibility / redundancy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by somabc View Post
    I think given the fairly low cost of servers you should start with 2 Physical servers, even if the second one is the cheapest you can find. You will appreciate the flexibility / redundancy.
    My only worry with that is i then end up with 1 server, further down the road that i probably don't want. The endgame would be to have 1 powerful server doing the brunt of the work then a smaller lower spec server to act as a 2nd dc and run backups from.

    If i did go for 2 servers, how would you suggest splitting the roles between them?

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    WSUS, central AV control/notification panel, inhouse file store (still synced with offsite storage for backup purposes?) and some kind of centralised auth make sense. I assume you're predominantly Windows?

    Good practise varies a lot depending on what people do, how much data you're shifting around and whether there's inhouse knowledge to run things. For 35 people whose core skills aren't IT or technical, outsourcing is often the right choice.

    For example: A 35-person development firm would handle things differently than a 35-person video production firm, who's handle it differently than a 35-person travel agency.

    So what do your lot do and where is your setup currently not meeting business needs (from a stability, security and availabilty perspective)?

    And the secondary question is "What terrifyingly Heath Robinson things do you want to fix?"

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    I have to say, running a single VM on a host seems a mite redundant. If it's for future deployments, then fine. if it's just for backup purposes, maybe a traditional software backup solution would be better? Restoring a whole VM to get one file back that someone has deleted accidently might get wearing after a while.

    I think what somabc is suggesting is having 2 vm hosts, to allow transition of VMs. having two servers with shared storage means you can mitigate hardware failure risk, and improve uptime.

    If not, then you'd make them both DCs, split DHCP range 70/30 between them, and probably keep the AV seperate from the wsus and print server. maybe also look at DFS-R for file storage replication.

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    We are a recruitment company. All we need to do currently is log into 2 different websites which stores all our candiate records and data so backup of that isnt a problem. We use a company called jungledisk which is an offsite file storage company who obviously backup that. Staff have a personal drive but not all use it or need to use it as. its only a select few users who create and need to save important documents.

    The fundamentals of our business is the internet and phones. The phone system is hosted on a separate linux box and something i want to keep seperate and as it is for now. We have 2 DSL lines from 2 different companies in case 1 goes down.

    our email is provided by another company and you just log into a web based simple admin panel to setup users etc and then configure Outlook on the users computer. I want to swap that in for Office 365 though to solve our email and microsoft office needs.

    I guess what i think we need is just logins and roaming profiles so that people can use other computers, more control of pushing out updates for things such as the phone software, java, flash etc and an anti virus program that can be controlled centrally and again updates sent out from etc.

    So if i was to do this on the one server, what would i be looking at spec wise do you think? i had been looking at a HP DL380 G7 with 1 CPU for now but maybe even this is overkill for 35 users?

    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    WSUS, central AV control/notification panel, inhouse file store (still synced with offsite storage for backup purposes?) and some kind of centralised auth make sense. I assume you're predominantly Windows?

    Good practise varies a lot depending on what people do, how much data you're shifting around and whether there's inhouse knowledge to run things. For 35 people whose core skills aren't IT or technical, outsourcing is often the right choice.

    For example: A 35-person development firm would handle things differently than a 35-person video production firm, who's handle it differently than a 35-person travel agency.

    So what do your lot do and where is your setup currently not meeting business needs (from a stability, security and availabilty perspective)?

    And the secondary question is "What terrifyingly Heath Robinson things do you want to fix?"

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    We are a recruitment company. All we need to do currently is log into 2 different websites which stores all our candiate records and data so backup of that isnt a problem. We use a company called jungledisk which is an offsite file storage company who obviously backup that. Staff have a personal drive but not all use it or need to use it as. its only a select few users who create and need to save important documents.

    The fundamentals of our business is the internet and phones. The phone system is hosted on a separate linux box and something i want to keep seperate and as it is for now. We have 2 DSL lines from 2 different companies in case 1 goes down.

    our email is provided by another company and you just log into a web based simple admin panel to setup users etc and then configure Outlook on the users computer. I want to swap that in for Office 365 though to solve our email and microsoft office needs.

    I guess what i think we need is just logins and roaming profiles so that people can use other computers, more control of pushing out updates for things such as the phone software, java, flash etc and an anti virus program that can be controlled centrally and again updates sent out from etc.

    So if i was to do this on the one server, what would i be looking at spec wise do you think? i had been looking at a HP DL380 G7 with 1 CPU for now but maybe even this is overkill for 35 users?
    I would say it's overkill. DC, DNS and DHCP are all light as a feather, WSUS should only be any load out of hours, and any AV panel is likely to be fairly light as well but depends on the AV I suppose.

    I would say that a single socket quad core with 8/16Gb of RAM (it's cheap so may as well opt for more) would probably be sufficient. You could configure the 380 G7 that low but it's a chassis designed for much more, so you may as well get a cheaper chassis - a 160 G7, perhaps, though others more familiar with server specs and models could probably give you something better.

    Agian, why VMing? If it's for backup there's no benefit there - you won't be able to snapshot a domain controller as they're so time sensitive. Just install it normally, and get a cheapo second server as a backup DC/DNS/DHCP - some of the HP servers are as cheap as a couple of hundred pounds, and there's no reason why they wouldn't be good enough as backups on those roles.

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    The reason for VMing was so that in the future when i probably want to split roles and add a VM, the ground work is already there and i can just add another VM. With regard to backup, there is not going to be any data as such on the server that needs backing up, i'd just be backing up the OS in case of some sort of disaster to get the server back up and running asap. So can that be done with Windows Backup??

    If i were to buy a 2nd server, there is extra cost of the hardware and then the server 2008 license. I then also might want to stick a UPS on it at more cost. We do have a VERY old Dell P4 server which maybe i could use as a secondary DC??? Any other suggestions on what i could do with it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCan View Post
    The reason for VMing was so that in the future when i probably want to split roles and add a VM, the ground work is already there and i can just add another VM. With regard to backup, there is not going to be any data as such on the server that needs backing up, i'd just be backing up the OS in case of some sort of disaster to get the server back up and running asap. So can that be done with Windows Backup??

    If i were to buy a 2nd server, there is extra cost of the hardware and then the server 2008 license. I then also might want to stick a UPS on it at more cost. We do have a VERY old Dell P4 server which maybe i could use as a secondary DC??? Any other suggestions on what i could do with it?
    ntbackup should indeed do the job, you want to back up System State to have all the domain controllery bits backed up. Should be able to do it to an external USB drive, buy two of them and alternate between them so there's always one off site. Then if disaster strikes, you reinstall Windows from the disc and then import that system state data back in to get your new install into the same condition as your last one was.

    If you make a physical server now on 2008R2 it will be easy to turn it into a VM later with a physical to virtual (P2V) conversion, if this is the first time you've set up a domain then no point in overcomplicating it now with work that doesn't need to be done till later. It'll improve your performance and such as well, and it's worth noting that Hyper-V VMs are limited to quad core processors (if anyone else knows this to be false, please let me know, I'd love to up some of my VMs).

    A UPS is probably a good idea anyway, doesn't need to be massive but will protect against those little power hiccups that can ruin your day otherwise. I know there's some difference between watts and VA but they always seemed close enough to me for working estimates.

    Pentium 4 would be fine as a DC - I just, last night, decommisioned a Pentium 4 server that until earlier this month was my primary domain controller with the lions share of the FSMO roles and the primary target for DNS and DHCP traffic. So for the cost of the 2008R2 licence (which you may be able to get as an upgrade if the server has an OEM 2000/3 licence) you could easily use that as a secondary DC. Makes it easier to bring your domain back up if the worst happens to your first DC as the domain is technically still alive, you'd just need to seize roles and then replicate the AD information over to a fresh server install.

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    I think i've decided to leave the visualization for now and just setup a standalone server.

    I'd like to setup the 2nd DC but i've just had a look at it and it doesnt appear to have a Windows License sticker on it, without this am i out of luck with the upgrade license??

    And if i went for a UPS, i think i am right in saying to control more than 1 server they start becoming very expensive as they have to be connected via NICs, or at least thats what i've been told?

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    I suspect that without the Certificate of Authenticity sticker that any upgrade wouldn't be within the terms of the licence, unless you have a non-OEM licence of Server 2000/3 on the machine which is unlikely if it's a Dell. This is one of the joys of education, children piggling off the Windows licenses and leaving you running Windows illegaly...

    The UPS doesn't need to control more than one server - I set mine up here so that it's connected via USB to a single server, at 5 minutes power remaining it runs a script on that server that shuts down the other connected servers and at 3 mintues left shuts that server down directly. Just need to spend 2 minutes writing up a batch file to run shutdown /s commands against the servers you know are connected and job's a good 'un. (this is with APC UPSes, I don't know if it's possible with others. I suppose that if all else fails, you could set a logoff/shutdown script on the first server that then shut down the others, you'd just have to be careful to disable it anytime you were shutting down manually)

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