Growing Business network plan

Posted on 2005-04-07
Last Modified: 2013-12-07
Our current setup is as follows:

3 servers:
              1.) Windows 2003 - DC, Exchange, IIS for OWA, ISA 2000, DNS, DHCP
              2.) Windows 2003 - Data, Roaming Profiles, Printers
              3.) Red Hat Linux - Data archiving, Tape Backup of ad, data, exchange mailboxes

We are rapidly expanding and I am concerned that we will soon be unable to support the extra users.  We pushing it as it is. I have one user connecting remotely each day with two other occasionally connecting remotely.

I've been putting together some ideas for upgrades and so far have come up with this:

6 - 8  Servers:
                     1.) Windows 2003 - ISA 2000, VPN
                     2 & 3). Windows 2003 Clustered - DC, Exchange, IIS for OWA
                     4.) Windows 2003 (possibly linux) - DNS & DHCP
                     5.) Windows 2003 - Data, Roaming Profiles, Printers
                     6.) Red Hat Linux - Data archiving, Tape Backup of ad, data, exchange mailboxes
Considering clustering servers for data etc.

Are there any suggestions or comments about the proposed new setup.  Anything I'm missing or should consider?  I'm trying to build the most efficient and reliable setup i can have (dont we all :-D ).  High availability is essential.

Thanks for your input.


Question by:eschaefr
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    You don't say how many users you have, you don't say if your existing servers are 500MHz/512MB RAM or 3 GHZ dual CPUs with 4GB of RAM?  IMHO, no one can give you an answer without these details.

    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    Also, could you add a little bit about overall business objectives and whether you have users with disparate needs?
    If you had servers go down, which would affect production the most?  The least?
    Can you add what you need "no matter what?"

    Also, is this a 24-7 operation?  A 9-5?

    Author Comment

    Sorry, currently the DC/ISA/ETC is a Poweredge 1400sc 850mhz/ 650mb  & the file server is a custom built 3.0 ghz/1gig.

    Our business is pharmaceutical research, which is basically 24-7.  We need to be able to service our clients at any time.  The most essential parts are:
    1.) the file server houses basically everything, w/o it we're dead in the water
    2.) The Email isnt crucial but if it goes down it puts a damper on the days productivity.  
    3.) The DC is obviously pretty important but i can still get everyone to the file server if its down

    We have about 30 in house users and 1 remote user. This should double by the end of the year.

    Hope this helps, let me know if you need any more info
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    A SINGLE server could handle what your doing.  Should it?  In my opinion, no.  But it definitely could.

    A little perspective - I use to work at a biomedical research facility doing cancer research, nuerological research, genetics, and a few other things.  Over 400 scientists and 500 support staff.  I managed the servers for 5 years, and worked as a tech for another 5.  I also used to support a small satellite office of another pharmaceutical company that was sold a little over 9 months ago - they had 30 users at their peek as well.  While your SPECIFIC requirements may be somewhat different, but I would believe both of my experiences are especially relavent to you.

    What I would do is the following:

    1 server for ISA/VPN (better still, use a hardware solution from Cisco or another company)  - BEST to keep a system that is directlly on the internet
    1 server for Backup/DHCP/DNS/AD/"Administrative" resources sharing (things that can do down and be unavailable for a time)
    2 servers clustered for Exchange (If e-mail is THAT important to you; it is to most people; and you can afford this).
    2 servers, MIRRORED to each other using software I have not used (we were planning on doing this when I left the company).  For file and printer sharing.
    1 server for a second DC/DNS system (you want to have more than 1 DC).

    This entirely depends on your budget.  I would NOT be using custom built servers.  The warranty and support is SOOO unpredictable, I just consider this a potential problem.  Dell, IBM, HP/Compaq - yes, you pay more, but you DO get more, including more peice of mind.  

    If you budget allows for:
    1 Server - Run everything on the best server you can
    2 Servers - put ISA/VPN Services on 1 server, everything else on server 2
    3 servers - Put ISA/VPN on 1, Exchange on 2, everything else on 3.
    4 servers - put ISA/VPN on 1, Exchange on 2, Backup and DC/DNS/DHCP on 3, Everything else on 4 (and make 4 a DC as well)
    5 servers - put ISA/VPN on 1, Cluster Exchange on 2+3, Backup and DC/DNS/DHCP on 4, Everything else on 5 (and make 5 a DC as well)
    6 servers - put ISA/VPN on 1, Cluster Exchange on 2+3, Backup and DC/DNS/DHCP on 4, Everything else on 5 mirrored to another server (6) (and make one a DC as well)
    7 servers - put ISA/VPN on 1, Cluster Exchange on 2+3, Backup and DC/DNS/DHCP on 4, Second DC/DNS on 5, Everything else on 6 mirrored to another server (7)

    Author Comment

    Thanks alot for your input. You've given me some great ideas to go off of.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    A quick couple of notes:

    1.  Clustered file servers are nice ideas.  I would probably do it (again).  I did it for years at the large company where I was sys-admin.  BUT, the problem is, your data still resides on ONE set of disks.  So for SAFETY, I would suggest the server mirroring - this way, the data resides on two independent servers (though only one would be accessed by your users, if I remember the software details correctly (and it's been a year, I could be wrong).

    2.  If you don't have a subscription to WindowsIT Pro magazine, GET ONE!  They are the most advanced, technically appropriate magazine for anyone managing a windows network.  Tips on everything Active Directory, to server mirroring software, among other things.  Great magazine and in my opinion, WELL WORTH the $50/year subscription.

    Featured Post

    IT, Stop Being Called Into Every Meeting

    Highfive is so simple that setting up every meeting room takes just minutes and every employee will be able to start or join a call from any room with ease. Never be called into a meeting just to get it started again. This is how video conferencing should work!

    Join & Write a Comment

    1. Introduction As many people are interested in Linux but not as many are interested or knowledgeable (enough) to install Linux on their system, here is a safe way to try out Linux on your existing (Windows) system. The idea is that you insta…
    Network ports are the threads that hold network communication together. They are an essential part of networking that can be easily ignore or misunderstood, my goals is to show those who don't have a strong network foundation how network ports opera…
    After creating this article (, I decided to make a video (no audio) to show you how to configure the routers and run some trace routes and pings between the 7 sites…
    In this tutorial you'll learn about bandwidth monitoring with flows and packet sniffing with our network monitoring solution PRTG Network Monitor ( If you're interested in additional methods for monitoring bandwidt…

    729 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    16 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now