Server box vs workstation acting like a server

I ahve a customer that wants to upgrade his current server.  He has an Intel 386, 256 mb Memory, with 10 GB of DASD.  He wants to get out of this upgrade as inexpensively as he can.  He is comparing buying a server box or a desktop that will look like a server.  What are your recommendations and where can I find other info about this like white papers and the such?

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Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
How many users?

I always like domains, but I'll admit, they aren't always necessary.  With an environment of 10 users or less (10 computers really), you can just setup a peer-to-peer network and be fine.  Anymore than that and you need a server (domain or not, but domain begins to really make sense here).  Also keep in mind the possibility of expansion by the client.  Will he be getting more computers?
cnewgaardConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Your situation really comes down to the number of users.  As leew says any more than 10 PC's and you're running into problems with a PC operating system (XP or Win2K).  Both of these operating systems have a limit of 10 concurrent connections.  Which means with more than 10 PC's try to access a resource on that PC based "server" the 11th gets denied.  It's really up to the client because they're spending the money, but they'll have to look into the future and see if they're going to expand their business.  If they're pretty well set for the next 3-4 years and have less than 10 users than a PC based "server" on a workgroup will probably suffice but if they're going to grow it's better to spend the money on even just a basic server with SBS now than try and move and upgrade again in a year.  You also need to look at whether they want to run Exchange, SQL, or some other enterprise type applications.  As far as white papers and such searching Google or Microsoft always works well.
BeaucairejAuthor Commented:
Currently they have NT server so they will be running a server on either a server machine or a workstation (like they are currently doing).  The have 10 users now & could go to 15-20 in the future.  They only do file sharing and run ACT! as a server application.  Email is done an individual basis by an outside source on will not be done on this server.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I would suggest a low end server from Dell with a 3 year warranty.  But clearly, you can run a Server on a workstation/Desktop class machine - the most important thing is Memory. Make sure you have enough memory.
BeaucairejAuthor Commented:
How much is enough?  1Gb? 2Gb?  Do you suggest RAID?  if so  what level?  I am planning on either using there existing backup tape or installing a bigger one.
Again the memory comes down to how hard they're going to use it, but I would probably go with a machine that will allow you to uprgrade and get as much as they'll pay for.  Most likely start with 2GB.  As far as RAID it is again another issue of cash.  If they are willing to pay the extra money for the peace of mind then definitely go with it.  At very least mirrored drives.
BeaucairejAuthor Commented:
I have used your suggestions and gave them two ways to go.  I'll see which way they want to go.  Thanks for your help.
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