Server 2k3 Hardware & Specs Recommendation

Pebkac

Gawd
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May 11, 2007
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Hello, I was wondering if any of you could recommend some Hardware Specs and/or prebuilt model #'s (ex. Dell, HP) for a new work server. It will be supporting 20 users, 26 PC's, and 6 printers. I will be using the Windows Server 2K3 OS and it will be used in the following roles:

DNS Server
Primary Domain Controller (Active Directory)
Application Server (minimal)
File Server (currently converting all paper customer files to electronic)
WSUS Server
Printers will be networked through it

I would like to put the OS on a RAID 1 array, and Data/Files on a 500 Gb to 1 Tb RAID 5 or 10 (suggestions?) array. Also, I would appreciate suggestions on favorite backup software suites.




 

da sponge

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You'd be well served (no pun intended) by any entry level server. I was running AD on dual P3 1ghzs for 100 people and it sailed along.

What's the budget?

I'm partial to dell 2950s - they're solid servers.

HP makes a nice server in the 380-385s are nice too.
 

mobiux

2[H]4U
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Jul 24, 2000
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yeha, all the AD/dns stuff is weak sauce.
the wsus might be a little more strenuous simply because it's a database running in the backend.
The rest of the stuff is pretty low power.

We have a couple 2950s and yeah, they are good machines.
 

Pebkac

Gawd
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I'm not sure of my budget yet, but what I recommend to my boss usually flies. My guess is 5k to 8k but I could be wrong. I'm liking the Dell's because of the parts & warranty, but we like to buy local if possible.


 

lAciDl

Limp Gawd
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all the servers i build are pretty much all intel.

Case : Intel® Server Chassis SC5400BRP w/ 6-drive hot-swap, expander (SATA)
MB: Intel® Server Board S5000PSLROMB (onboard Raid)
Cpu : 1 Quad Core Xeon (new Quadcore Xeons are CHEAP, get one and if you need another put it in, board has 2 sockets)
Ram: 4x1 gb fb-dims or 2x 2gb, i usually use wintec
HD: Seagate sata enterprise drives, what ever sizes you want. the expander has 6 slots and the case has room for another expander if you need more drives.

Purchase all the parts from Intel, assemble yourself. Intel has excellent! server support. If you want it assembled ahead of time, i believe Wintec will do it for you for free, just by purchasing the server from them(no OS installed thought)
 

da sponge

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If you're a small shop and not buying in bulk, you can't get much easier than Dell and Gold On-Site Service.

WSUS likes RAM.
 

JayAre

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I support over 150+ Dell servers (2950, 2850, 2650, 2800, 2600). They are an ok brand I suppose. I'm not a Dell fan though (prior experience has shown me that they're better brands out there).

Anyway, everything that you want to do, doesn't seem to be too taxing. Including the WSUS stuff (only for the sake that you don't have a whole lot of PC's nor users). Should that number start to climb, they maybe look into a separate server for that.

The thing that scares me is the using of the DC/print server. I probably won't get a ton of support, but I wouldn't recommend using your domain controller as your print server. Let's say one day Johnny Wishbone decides to print all 200 pages of his power point presentation as one print job. Next thing you know your DC is acting all crazy and now you have to reboot the server.

I'd suggest throwing W2K on a spare pc, make it a member server and use that as your print server.
 

Pebkac

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Thanks for the suggestions so far, I'm looking into everything mentioned. Good suggestion on the print server, I'll convert our old w2k server to a member server for backup DNS and the printers. I'm supporting a bunch of older Mrs. Johnny Wishbones and the user/printer issues are already a hassle.

 

oakfan52

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I support over 150+ Dell servers (2950, 2850, 2650, 2800, 2600). They are an ok brand I suppose. I'm not a Dell fan though (prior experience has shown me that they're better brands out there).

Anyway, everything that you want to do, doesn't seem to be too taxing. Including the WSUS stuff (only for the sake that you don't have a whole lot of PC's nor users). Should that number start to climb, they maybe look into a separate server for that.

The thing that scares me is the using of the DC/print server. I probably won't get a ton of support, but I wouldn't recommend using your domain controller as your print server. Let's say one day Johnny Wishbone decides to print all 200 pages of his power point presentation as one print job. Next thing you know your DC is acting all crazy and now you have to reboot the server.

I'd suggest throwing W2K on a spare pc, make it a member server and use that as your print server.


No W2K "Servers" allowed. Anyone who does that for abusiness needs to drug out to the steet and shot.

W2k is EOL. why install an already unsupported OS?

I would do two seperate servers.

Domain Controller
Dell 1900/1950 with two dual core cpus. 3x146GB SAS drives. mirror with online hotspare and 4GB of ram

Same for 2nd server excpet 3x146 SAS mirror with hot spare for OS + 3x750 SATA II raid 5/
 

Qualm

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W2k is EOL. why install an already unsupported OS?

Because it works? It's a freaking print server. A 386 running Windows 95 would do just as well.

I would do two seperate servers.

Domain Controller
Dell 1900/1950 with two dual core cpus. 3x146GB SAS drives. mirror with online hotspare and 4GB of ram

Great, $2500 for a server that will spend 99.999999999% of its cpu cycles doing absolutely nothing.

Don't let them scare you with dire predictions of 200 page powerpoint print jobs forcing you to reboot servers. One server is all you need, and any modern dual core with 4gb ram won't be stressed asa file server/AD/DCHP/DNS/Print Server etc. etc.
 
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Dell has been good to me and I would not hesitate to recommend them. In addition to specing for your current size, what is your anticipated growth?

Your current size sounds like an ideal SBS2003 installation if you do not plan on exceeding 75 users anytime soon. The 2950 is a good server, but another thought is a 1950 /w an MD1000 DAS. This could leave you some better opportunity for growth, and depending on how agressive in discounting your account rep is (if you don't have a dedicated account rep, get one, well worth it) the PE1950/MD1000 route might be a few hundred cheaper for the same storage and leave room for addition growth.

If you do go Server2003 Std instead of SBS then go x64 with it so you have room to add more RAM as needed and you could run Exchange 07 as well.
 

Pebkac

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Glad I checked this from home. This is for a one branch bank in a small town. The anticipated growth for internal users is 0-5, but the data storage will be growing over the next couple years due to scanning all the customers (4000-6000) records (think all the paperwork associated with your accounts, loans, etc.) into a program called eFilecabinet. You can search from an internal web page and pull up all documents for a customers name. Our current server is a windows 2000 server with a 30 gig drive that's damn near full and the dns settings are hosed. Our email is externally hosted, as is the webpage/online banking. This was all set up before I started working here, and now I'm fixing things and recommended a needed server upgrade which was approved. I like the idea of SBS, but I would like to add secondary servers in upcoming years for redundancy and possible virtualization of other standalone boxes running certain apps. But that's in the future, for now I just need a reliable server with data redundancy and a good backup suite for tapes/offsite storage.
 

oakfan52

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Because it works? It's a freaking print server. A 386 running Windows 95 would do just as well.

I have a saying. Just because can can be done doesn't mean it should!.

That crap might fly for your "linksys" net admins but if your looking for a reliable and supportable solution stay clear of this guys input on that matter. Nevermind the 10 connection limit that a non-server class OS has.

I am lead file and print engineer for a large enterprise but also come with SMB VAR experince as well. I would use an unsported OS on ANY system that is buisness critical. It just plain stupid and you will kick yourself when you need vendor support.

Great, $2500 for a server that will spend 99.999999999% of its cpu cycles doing absolutely nothing.

Don't let them scare you with dire predictions of 200 page powerpoint print jobs forcing you to reboot servers. One server is all you need, and any modern dual core with 4gb ram won't be stressed asa file server/AD/DCHP/DNS/Print Server etc. etc.

Mixing all of these services is definatly against best practice. Server 2003 SBS would be a good fit if you also needed exchange, otherwise it costs more for the CAL's. I would take two less powerful server over one more powerful server in this case for flexability. It allows for growth and other option you may not consider now. Like RAS/VPN/ Terminal Services.

The issue with 1 smaller clas server is the HP 38x class is limited to 6 disks. SCSI is aging technology and SAS drives haven't caught up in size yet so expanding your disk subsystem in a year or two could be a big hassle with one server.
 

JayAre

Limp Gawd
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Messages
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No W2K "Servers" allowed. Anyone who does that for abusiness needs to drug out to the steet and shot.

W2k is EOL. why install an already unsupported OS?

I would do two seperate servers.

Domain Controller
Dell 1900/1950 with two dual core cpus. 3x146GB SAS drives. mirror with online hotspare and 4GB of ram

Same for 2nd server excpet 3x146 SAS mirror with hot spare for OS + 3x750 SATA II raid 5/

Easy there big shooter. I ment w2k3. Just a typo.
 

swatbat

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Messages
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I've deployed a bunch of PowerEdge 2900's. If you have a rack with limited space then the 2950 would be a good one though. Anyway I'd prob go with either a single quad core or 2 dual core chips and 4 gigs of ram. Running a raid one and raid 5 combo would be fine for what you are doing and the 2900 has room for 8 drives in the hotswap bays. As far as backups go get a dell lto2 or 3 drive in the system. lto2 should prob be fine but if you really think you will be filling a tb raid then the lto3 might be a better option.

I'm asuming that this will be running as the av server as well. Also will it be hosting mail, sql, etc?

You can get some dell servers that are a little cheaper then the 2900/2950 but the cost difference just doesn't seem to make it worth it in a lot of cases. Besides the dual power supply option that we have loaded in our 2900s is nice. I don't see the need for a second server for that many users unless you have some bigger apps that you were going to run off it. Mind you a second server isn't a bad idea for uptime but it isn't needed. I also don't really see a reason to have the print server on something elce. If you want to play it safe and the app you are going to run will support it get windows 64 on the server. That way if you do have issues with printing or want to add exchange or sql on it you can expand past 4 gigs. With that if the printing someone did become an issue you can also run a virtual server on top of the ad and have it run the print server.
 
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I have a saying. Just because can can be done doesn't mean it should!.

That crap might fly for your "linksys" net admins but if your looking for a reliable and supportable solution stay clear of this guys input on that matter. Nevermind the 10 connection limit that a non-server class OS has.

I am lead file and print engineer for a large enterprise but also come with SMB VAR experince as well. I would use an unsported OS on ANY system that is buisness critical. It just plain stupid and you will kick yourself when you need vendor support.

Vendor support for a print server?! Are you kidding me? You're calling the people who want to use a MUCH LESS expensive (read: usually free) OS "linksys net admins?" Clearly, if you need to vendor support for a Win2k print server, you're probably in the wrong field in the first place. Just because you work for a big company doesn't mean you need to belittle the guys who work for smaller businesses that typically know a lot more about a large variety of subjects than corporate wand-wavers.

Now that I'm done venting, here's my suggestion:

Get a Dell 2950 with a couple dual core Xeons, get the gold warranty with next-day service, and get Server 2003 (not SBS). If you're only planning on serving 20-30 systems and users, you'll be just fine to run AD, WSUS, DNS, DHCP, and so on. Using your old Win2k server as a print server and backup DNS is an excellent idea, just make it a member server and not a DC. Someone previously said something about a Dell 1950 -- I'd recommend not getting a 1U server do to lack of expansion. The 2950 offers plenty of room for upgrades.
 
Joined
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I personally would go with the 4hr response instead of NBD. Since it sounds like this system will play a somewhat critical role I would not settle for NBD.

Since the OP furthur elaborated on his expecatations I would definately go for Server 2003 Standard.

Also as an alternative to tape, you may want to also consider a CDP plan to an offsite service. There are some pretty good options out there. Probably end up being cheaper than a good LTO3 tape system. (Though if you go tape LTO3 is a great option).
 

MIRTBelGeran

Weaksauce
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I do not know that much about Dell servers but from what I have seen they seem to be fairly cost effective. However. I'm not a fan of their setup utilities and RAID configurations. I have set up literally 100's of HP servers and a handful of Dell's and would pick the HP over the Dell any day as far as setup goes.

When considering remote management the System insight management on an HP is top knotch. If I remember correctly dell has a IP KVM solution that requires additional hardware. This comes into play when you have a problem with the OS where you are unable to term service into the box. HP servers come with a management option that allows console access over IP as long as the system has power and is connected to a network. No KVM switch required.

Over the phone I have instructed customers on how to set up the System Insite board and told them what CD's to put in the server while I installed everything remotely.

I like the DL380/385 line of servers.

If Dell has similar capabilities I do not know so no flames required I could just be stupid.

Also if this is a Bank make sure they Ponie up the cash on IT do not recommend or do anything that could impact their ability to service customers. I would NEVER recommend to any business that I was not the owner to do a build it yourself system or an EOL OS. In my opinion W95/98 should not even be allowed to participate on a business network.

Is this bank a publicly traded company? If so... and even if not check out requirements for IT in Sarbanes-Oxley. Here is the link to Wikipedia to get you started. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarbanes-Oxley_Act

I'm almost willing to bet that if there was a 95/98 computer on the network the Bank would not be in compliance.

Make sure that the setup procedure is well documented along with AV and patch management. The IT worker bee is responsible for much more than function nowadays. Just because it works does not mean that it is good enough.
 
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Some good advice there. Always make sure you are keeping up with laws and regulations... The cost of non-compliance is far worse than the cost of compliance.

However, as a correction the Dell OpenManage system works similar to the HP system. No IP KVM needed. Their RAID configuration utilities are pretty good nowdays.

With the OpenManage CD's OS install on Dell's is pretty nice. IT basically creates an unattended installation with all of the needed drivers for the system's hardware.
 

Pebkac

Gawd
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Thanks for all the replies so far. Some clarification on some questions - the bank is not publicly traded and the financial processing end is done on an AS400 with a Jack Henry software suite. Do not really need any remote access, we are only M-F 8-5 and I'm only 1/2 mile away. Right now I'm seeing if our current apps will run on a 64 bit OS and hashing out how much storage capacity we actually need for the next few years. My initial storage assessment is probably overkill, but you can never have too much.:D

This week I'm finishing up the needed specs to send out to a few local companies for bids and configure a couple online for comparison, after I get those back I'll bring them to the board for approval.

I'm debating between a Intel Quad Core Xeon 5335 2Ghz or Dual Core Xeon 5130 2Ghz. Would the quad core be overkill?
 
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All your software should work on a 64-bit Operating System, they just won't experience a boost in performance.

I would say go with the quad-core because it says you from a upgrade you may need in the future, and it will also allow you to have better power for virtualization further down your road of needs for the job.
 

swatbat

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All your software should work on a 64-bit Operating System, they just won't experience a boost in performance.

I would say go with the quad-core because it says you from a upgrade you may need in the future, and it will also allow you to have better power for virtualization further down your road of needs for the job.

I'd go with the quad core chip as well. That way if you ever need to expand you can just get the extra heatsink and another cpu.

As far as the 64bit software goes. Most 32 bit programs should run on it fine. I'd still go though and check like you are though. With the size of the setup your talking 4 gigs should be fine but it is nice to be able to go past that.
 

Qualm

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I'm debating between a Intel Quad Core Xeon 5335 2Ghz or Dual Core Xeon 5130 2Ghz. Would the quad core be overkill?

In the short run yes, in the long run no.

I am just finalizing a 24 server purchase with Dell, all but 2 of them are dual quad core Xeons. Even though our logging, load balancer, and image server builds don't really need that power now, the idea is that in the long run we'll virtualize most of our server pools (not the database and storage pools) and the quad cores will already be in place.
 

tripex

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Are you going to use roaming profiles or mydocuments redirection on those 20~ users ?

I think that puts some heavy load on the server, so think about it.
 

da sponge

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I'd go with the quad core chip as well. That way if you ever need to expand you can just get the extra heatsink and another cpu.

As far as the 64bit software goes. Most 32 bit programs should run on it fine. I'd still go though and check like you are though. With the size of the setup your talking 4 gigs should be fine but it is nice to be able to go past that.

Typical virtualization bottlenecks are memory, not CPU. Quad core in a dual CPU chassis is going to require almost equivalent cost in memory as the whole (16-32gb) for full utilization.
 

oakfan52

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Typical virtualization bottlenecks are memory, not CPU. Quad core in a dual CPU chassis is going to require almost equivalent cost in memory as the whole (16-32gb) for full utilization.

True our VM ware servers are going to Hp new C-class blades. it cheaper to buy a 2nd blade w/ 16GB of ram then upgrafe from 16 to 32GB.
 

da sponge

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We have an eMachines Celeron 500 w/ 128MB of RAM running Windows 98 as our print server.

For regular black and white documents that's fine. If you get into printing 200+ page powerpoint documents with a logo on each page as part of the template, you're looking at 1GB+ sized raw documents and need some horsepower to process them.
 

Rocco123

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We have an eMachines Celeron 500 w/ 128MB of RAM running Windows 98 as our print server.

If that's true, that's really sad.

Dell 2950 = OK server. Not the best, but if you can get them for sub 2000 prices, go for it. I would go for an HP just because SIM ownes OpenManage. HP's error detection seems to be far superior to Dell's.
 

fibroptikl

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For regular black and white documents that's fine. If you get into printing 200+ page powerpoint documents with a logo on each page as part of the template, you're looking at 1GB+ sized raw documents and need some horsepower to process them.

It chokes on large 75+ page documents. Our accounts payable person thinks that she needs access to the printer queue though - but that's because she's not that patient.

I plan to get rid of it, and get a decent network attached print server device.

If that's true, that's really sad.

Dell 2950 = OK server. Not the best, but if you can get them for sub 2000 prices, go for it. I would go for an HP just because SIM ownes OpenManage. HP's error detection seems to be far superior to Dell's.
It is sad, I know. However, it's the most current OS that allows me to connect more than 10 computers.
 
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