Server Recommendation

Oldie

Mean Old Administrator
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I'm going to hire someone to handle the network setup and all, but I'm need to setup a brand new office for my company (and by my, I mean I own it). I'm going to have approx. 10-15 PC's, some remote. I need the server to handle the following:

-Quickbooks for Manufacturing Database
-Exchange
-File storage (~4TB would be the very high end of our needs)

I'm basically looking for some recommendations so I can get an idea of cost. I have a very good budget for this but I want to make sure I don't overspend, though that's not nearly as important as going too light. Obviously this isn't going to be a huge demand on the hardware, but I don't want it to wimp out on me.

Also, I'm looking for some desktop document scanner recommendations. I'm going to have people scanning invoices, bills of lading, etc... and anything that could help to intelligently sort them would be a big plus.

Also, I'm particularly fond of Dell at this point, because I'm going to be purchasing about 20-30 PC's from them and want to leverage it in to a good discount. That said if there's something else you'd like to recommend I'm quite open to it. I REALLY appreciate any advice you guys are willing to give. :)
 

Bobacus

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A little more input on the Quickbooks setup would be helpful, I've seen the extreme ends of Enterprise 11 lately. I've got two customer's on enterprise 11 w/ about 8 people in Quickbooks all the time, one a construction company, and the other a manufactoring/retail supply business. The file size's are 750mb and 1.5gb respectively, and while the construction company can happily run on a dell poweredge 1900 w/ 2 250gb 7200rpm drives in raid 1 while making no inpact on the server, I've had to put the other on a HP ML350 w/ 3 160gb SFF 10k drives in raid 5 just to keep up, and if I do any heavy I/O on this server they dog out in quickbooks, while I can do whatever on the other client w/ no issues.

So I guess the best question about quickbooks is how many users, the file size, and how much your transaction log (tlg file) grows during a day, my customer w/ the 1.5gb files grows about 3gb per day. Now all this might be because of some issues w/ my customers QB file, but I'd still go by it for sizing. I'll be calling intuit next week so I should be a little more in the know.

For the scanners, I'm not too sure on the software, I'm needing to look into myself, but I have 3 of the girls at the construction company running the Canon DR-2010C scanners all day, and they absolutely love them, like me though, they hate paperport.
 

Oldie

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I would bet on 6-8 active users around 8 hours a day during the busy times. No idea on the growth since this will all be brand new.

I'm actually going to be attending a training seminar for QBManu here in about 2 weeks and just wanted to have any of the networking questions I might need answered ready. Like I said, I'm going to be hiring someone more skilled for the setup, but the more I know the better I can maintain w/o having to pay an invoice. :)
 

Bobacus

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Ok, well normally I recommend HP nowadays, my coworkers are anti-dell, so I just don't bother anymore, I havn't looked at Dell servers since the Poweredge 2900's were still the big thing, but I just glanced on Dell's site, and I would say a T710 w/ 16gb registered ram, Small Business Server, a single quad core CPU, and either 5 or 6 1tb drives in raid5 on a perc6i controller would be nice. Or if you want to make sure you won't be hurting for performance, you can put the quickbooks, exchange and OS on a few 15k drives, and put several 7200rpm drives in there for storage.

I took a peek on Dell's website, and it came out to about $6224 w/o SBS cal's, I couldn't find them oddly enough on the configure my server page, but I think they go for around $75 per user, and the server may already come w/ 5 cals.
 

YeOldeStonecat

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I'd look at the PowerEdge T610 and T710...nice rigs.
However, for Small Business Server, I (and most SBS specialists) prefer to have RAID 1 15k SAS for the OS, and RAID 5 or RAID 10 for the data volume. Split the OS from the data and Exchange infostore...instead of having 1 big RAID 5 or RAID 10 volume. You get MUCH better performance...huge difference.

Now....if you're looking at 10-15 clients....we could probably stay with just 1 server. BUT...I see you mention purchasing 20-30 PCs...make me think you're getting more and looking for growth? If you're looking at growth..and if you're wanting lots of storage....I would plan a bit more ahead...which makes me lean towards...

Get 2x rack mount servers....1 for SBS, like a R610 or R710...pair of RAID 1 15k SAS for the OS, triple or quad RAID 5 SAS for the data.
And the second server...get a NAS rack server....just for data storage
 

Oldie

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Those aren't all related. ;)

Still just 10ish max for this, plus a few laptops for traveling folks. I was thinking about pulling apart the the file server into another box though.
 

twwabw

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I would definitely consider putting QBooks Enterprise onto terminal server. The nature of QBooks pulling and pushing data back and forth between client PCs turns it into a dog when your database becomes large, and/or more connected clients. Yes- a little more cost for licensing, but in the end, it makes the app run SO much better. You also get to forget about the annoying QBooks updates being sync'd on all PCs, since you're only actually running it on One PC, so only 1 to patch. It also allows for virtually any vintage/speed PC to connect and work effectively, and if you have VPN access set upo into your network, users can access it easily remotely. This is a BIG plus imo.
 

marley1

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i would tend to agree with YeOlde, 4TB in data requirements I would try ot get 2 servers.
 

Oldie

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Well after talking with some other folks I trust, I think I'm going to order this for our primary server:

2x Xeon 5630
16GB 1333Mhz RDIMM's, Advanced ECC
2x300GB SAS 10K's in R1
5x500GB SATA's in R5
1100 Watt Redundant PSU
Quad Port Intel Gb NIC

All on SBS2008R2, for around $8K w/o any discounts I may be able to get.

Still looking into what I want for backup and other networking gear but it's a start. It's definitely more than we need, but given what I consider to be a small price difference for some lesser solutions I'd rather have the head room.
 

marley1

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nice what brand? the only negative i see is you will have your OS, Exchange, WSUS, Sharepoint on the primary drive which is raid 1, i normally like to do Raid 1/Raid 5 SAS. And move the Exchange to the Raid 5. SATA will be a bit slower. Do you really need 4TB Data?
 

C7J0yc3

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Since all I have been doing all day is quoting two projects I am starting in about a week let me throw in my $0.02. Firstly I see 3 servers you need (QB, EX, and FP), but you also need at least one AD server (Preferably 2). Secondly, are you doing physical or virtual machines? I would recommend virtual for scalability. If you are going virtual do you want to use VMware, Citrix, Sun, Windows, or Virtual Iron? I would recommend Microsoft Hyper V for cost and licensing but that's just me. Thirdly what version of exchange are you running? 2003, 07, 2010? Lastly what are your BUDR plans? Tape, Disk, Cloud?

If I were in your place and had money as no object and could buy whatever I wanted here is what I would get myself.

2x Dell R610 (2x Intel E5620s, 48GB RAM, 2x 146GB SAS 6GB 15K, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise) $8,945 (Each)
Dell MD3200i (Dual Controller iSCSI, 4x 2TB, RAID 5 w/1 hot spare) $13,777
HP E2510G-48 (Top of rack) $1,639.99
HP E2510G-24 (SAN Switch) $901.99
Drobo Pro (16TB, iSCSI backup) $2,499.99
MS Exchange 2010 Standard + 20 Cals $1510
Total: $38,218.97

With Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise you get 4 licenses for virtual servers, so I would have AD01, Fileserver01 and Exchange01 on HV01, and then AD02, Quickbooks01, and Backup on HV02. (All would be running on windows server 2008 R2 standard).I would have my Drobo connected via iSCSI to the backup server and I would use windows server backup to back everything up to the drobo. The MD3200i would have 3.7TB of usable space for my VMs / file space, +1 online spare. If needed I can expand that array on the fly up to 24TB by adding more 2TB drives. Put the two hypervisors in failover clustering to minimize downtime (each HV machine is capable of running all of it's VMs as well as the other machine's VMs).

That is a very similar setup to what we use in our office and what I am building for a client that is looking for a small, but extremely high reliability and uptime (doctor's office so people's lives are actually dependant on this being up more then 99% of the time) setup. This also assumes that you have some things already like a rack and a UPS.
 
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C7J0yc3

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Well after talking with some other folks I trust, I think I'm going to order this for our primary server:

2x Xeon 5630
16GB 1333Mhz RDIMM's, Advanced ECC
2x300GB SAS 10K's in R1
5x500GB SATA's in R5
1100 Watt Redundant PSU
Quad Port Intel Gb NIC

All on SBS2008R2, for around $8K w/o any discounts I may be able to get.

Still looking into what I want for backup and other networking gear but it's a start. It's definitely more than we need, but given what I consider to be a small price difference for some lesser solutions I'd rather have the head room.

So lets pretend the motherboard goes. You have one server. Now the whole company is down, and not just one application, EVERYTHING and you are down for a full day until you can get a part shipped to you, then replace it. Single server is never the approach no matter how small the business.
 

Oldie

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^^You would spend $40K for a 10 person office?
 

swanny51

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How about the intel modular server? This one system has room for 6 servers, a built in SAN, networking (can be redundant), mgmt and redundant power supplies. You can order the enclosure and just one blade and expand from there. the nodes are dual xeon (of course) and have dual GbE on board (you can add two more if needed). The nodes are diskless and boot from the SAN. There are two versions; one with 6 3.5" drives and one with 14 2.5" drives. More cost effective, easily scalable and its an Intel design.
http://www.intel.com/products/server/modular-server/modular-server/modular-server-overview.htm
We build these up and deliver complete and can help you if you want.
good luck
 

C7J0yc3

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^^You would spend $40K for a 10 person office?

Absolutely.

That $40k sounds like a lot but think of it this way.

1: I have redundant hardware. If I lose a server it isn't a problem, the second server has already picked up the down server's VMs and the company is moving along just fine. I can now wait for a part and not sweat the fact that no one can work because the server is down.

2: Scalability. If I decide that we want to get a new application that needs a server (say a BES) instead of trying to figure out if it can run on my SBS, or trying to cram it into a file server, I just fire up a new VM. Say I need a terminal server, not a problem, bring up a VM. Say we have a new product we want to demo, not a problem fire up a new VM. We have a customer that we setup basically what I quoted (24TB of disk in the SAN, and a 2nd SAN for snapshots) that was 10 users. They have since grown to 75 users and started with 5 guest servers and now have around 16 for various applications and things. They have had to buy extra MS licenses but have not had to buy a single piece of hardware.

3: Backup. With the drobo I have 16TB of File space available. Filling all 3.7TB and then doing 14 or 21 day backup cycles before consolidating or dumping my backup would allow me all sorts of retention. As I grow I can keep that retention until I get to the point where the drobo is full. Then I can back it off to a 7 or 14 day cycle. With a Drobo ProFS I can buy a second one, put it in a CoLo or other cloud location and have replication that way if the building catches fire I am safe.

4. Network. The E2510G gives me 48 ports of gigabit network and one heck of a backplane. It supports stacking as well so if I need more ports just drop in another switch. They also make PoE versions so if I have a phone system that requires PoE I can put one in as well.

$40k sounds like a big investment and it is, there is no denying that, however long term it allows you to expand and grow much faster then a $12,000 SBS deployment would. Don't get me wrong, SBS has its place in the world, however we have had too many customers on SBS come to us asking for features that SBS can't support and thus a simple $2,000 project to put in a new say ERP app turns into a $20,000 project to migrate off SBS. That is why we tell customers that unless they plan to be a >10 person shop forever buy big now, save later.
 

C7J0yc3

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Also if you are in fact starting from scratch then you need a rack, firewall, and UPS.

I would suggest

42U Rack (APC, Triplite, HP, Dell) $1200
UPS: APC SmartUPS 2200 $984
Firewall: Sonicwall TZ210 + Enhanced OS + Comprehensive Gateway Security $1,055

The nice thing about that sonicwall other then gateway AV etc is that it comes with 5 VPN licenses so your remote users can use SSL VPN through the web (to say a terminal server), or the netextender client for classic VPN.
 

Oldie

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That is why we tell customers that unless they plan to be a >10 person shop forever buy big now, save later.

Well see, that's the thing, we do plan to be a 10 person shop forever. There are real limitations to what's being undertaken and expanding beyond them is not anything we want to do. If that ever became a reality we would probably just sell it off.
 

Whatsisname

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Beware though, the upper shelf Dell servers only allow you to use "Dell Certified" hard disks, so 4 TB is going to cost you $2800, just for the disks.
 

aaronearles

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^^You would spend $40K for a 10 person office?

Exactly.

How can you even consider suggesting a $40k hypervisor setup for a small business that just wants email and quickbooks?

The $8k server that was quoted is overkill but that's just what he wanted.

SBS does have it's place, and this is the kind of shop that it's intended for.
 

C7J0yc3

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Exactly.

How can you even consider suggesting a $40k hypervisor setup for a small business that just wants email and quickbooks?

If I really put everything from my wish list into the quote it would be well over $100,000

The $8k server that was quoted is overkill but that's just what he wanted.

SBS does have it's place, and this is the kind of shop that it's intended for.

Well in this case it seems to be. Since OP has no plans of expanding the business beyond basically "Mom and Pop" SBS could be a candidate. Personally with some of the limitations of SBS I would still use a hypervisor, but go single server approach. Ditch the SAN and put the 2TB disks directly into the Server (2x 146GB 10k in Raid1 for os, 4x 2TB in RAID 5). Swap the 2TB drives out of the drobo and replace them with 1TB for BUDR. For 10 people with no plans to expand hosted exchange might be a consideration, but personally I would keep it in house.

That would drop the price to $17,533.98
 

aaronearles

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If I really put everything from my wish list into the quote it would be well over $100,000

I think all of us would, this is hardforum - but this is someone actually looking for an honest recommendation, money is always an object.
 

Red Squirrel

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Have you considered building the servers yourself? Much cheaper, and you can get more for less. Instead of 1 super expensive fault tolerant server that will be obsolete in 5 years due to the proprietary parts being hard to find (or ridiculously expensive to replace), build two servers that are maybe not as fault tolerant, make them more powerful, and 5 years down the line you'll still be able to get parts for them if needed. As long as you stick to stuff like ATX and other standards.

To make up for lack of fault tollerence, this is where virtualization comes in. Build a VM environment so both servers are just VM hosts and you can create as many VMs as the servers can handle.

For the SAN you'd almost want another server with a motherboard that has lot of sata ports, add some cards for more sata ports, and a nice rackmount case with like 8+ bays. A drobo unit could work too.

What about support? Well even if it was an enterprise class setup, you still need someone to support the environment regardless. You can always get extended warranty on all the parts too. Get spares, especially hard drives and maybe one PSU.

For backup solution I'd have a separate physical server that backs up to removable disks that can easily be swapped out nightly. Make sure you have at least two copies of each rotation, as hard drives have a bigger chance to fail then tapes. Tapes is another option as well, depending on how complicated (much harder to setup/manage) and expensive you want to go.

As a secondary backup solution I'd also look at an offsite backup. Either a service like Mozy, or just rent out a server somewhere.


Just a few thoughts anyway, not everyone wants to custom build and I don't disrespect that, but it's still an option.
 

Oldie

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I actually put some thought into doing my own, as it really wouldn't be that difficult for me at all. The downside is support. I'm not going to be there full time and the office is physically a few hours from me so I can drive there as needed, but I travel a bit. If anything happens and it's something I can't remote in to fix, being able to get a dell tech onsite would be important.
 
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Oldie

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Beware though, the upper shelf Dell servers only allow you to use "Dell Certified" hard disks, so 4 TB is going to cost you $2800, just for the disks.

I'll check in to that before ordering. I'm pretty confident I'm going to be building a cheaper backup server at this point as well.
 
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