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Different Server Specifications

Posted on 2006-03-27
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Hi

I just want to ask a broad, general question to allow for a better understanding of different server specifications.
Basically I would like to know of how many users could access a server based on all the different Intel server processors types (coupled with a supported server motherboard)

I understand that different servers have different roles and thus have different hardware capabilities such as RAID, types of Hard Drive be it SCSI, SATA etc, motherboard technologies etc. so for the purpose of this questions lets assume that each server is going to be a 2003 Microsoft Exchange Server, running 4 SATA drives in RAID 5 and each with 2GB registered RAM.

As a rule of thumb how many users could be supported with

Single Core HT Pentium 4 Processor setup -
Dual Core Pentium 4 Processor setup -
Single Xeon Processor setup -
Dual Xeon Processor setup –


Thanks
Mustek
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Question by:mustekkzn
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by:jhance
ID: 16298946
There is no strict relationship between server specs and number of users.  In fact, there is not even a rule-of-thumb.  It depends almost entirely on WHAT users are doing on the server.  For that you need to carefully analyze the workload and determine what factors are going to be important for your application(s).
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by:mustekkzn
ID: 16298956
well lets just say that in this case that the users will sending, receiving and accessing there mailboxes.
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by:jhance
ID: 16299285
So you're talking a MS Exchange Server installation here?  Some other email server?  What kind of email volumes are you expecting?  How many users on the system simultaneously? Average message size?  File attachments?
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by:jhance
ID: 16299314
I think you still seem to be looking for a quick and easy answer to a problem that takes research and solid decision making based on real data.  If you're not equipped or experienced in this type of work, get help.  Nobody here is able to take what little information you have provided and give you anything but a WAG.

I'm assuming that this is for a business purpose and you're the recommender.  If you choose poorly and the system doesn't meet the needs, who's going to get the blame?  Experts-Exchange?  I doubt it!  It's going to be your fault.
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by:mustekkzn
ID: 16299557
jhance - Are you kidding me! It was a broad and general question; one that I was hoping would lead to a discussion whereby ideas would be bounced around between experts that would invariably lead to a clearer understanding. ie: 'I’ve had this type of setup (provide example) but found this and that, so take into consideration.........'

If you are not a willing participant in this discussion then by all means don’t respond; however If you do intent to partake then comments such as 'who's going to get the blame?  Experts-Exchange?  I doubt it!  It's going to be your fault', I feel, carry absolutely no weight or relevance to the question, and at the end of the day it is My Question. I also read them with a very arrogant undertone, perhaps unjustly so. Could you answer who you think I intended to blame at Experts-Exchange? How would I get hold of them? Who are they? Which country are they from? These are questions that cannot be answered; did you think I didn’t understand this concept?

Thank you however for your comment that you found the question provides far too little information to allow you to commit to a single answer as there are just too many variables. Many experts might very well feel the same way but I will be leaving the question open as perhaps my intended purpose (whereby experts could discuss certain setups), I am hoping, might still take place.

Mustek
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by:jhance
ID: 16300201
No, I'm not kidding and I really don't think I can be of any further assistance here.  Good luck.
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computerfixins earned 500 total points
ID: 16300799
hehe; jhance steps on another victim... dont get discouraged mustek o.O

Most important factor is figuring how many users will use the server at any given time...  Then times that by an average of how much a single user uses...etc...

Also you have to decide on what theory of deployment.  Do you want multiples servers or what GIANT server with 5 mailbox stores.  Lateley the techie's are favoring the GIANT server approach...  Although the price of a GIANT server is usaully expontentially more then buying seperate smaller servers...  

Some "extreme" generelazations.

Up to 500 users
Single Proccessor 2GHz memory 1gb min

Up to 1,500 users
Dual Processor 2 GHz, Memory 1GB minimum

Over 1,500 users
Quad Processor 4 GB memory  /3GB boot.ini switch

I'd stay away from SATA, as it does not have the realibility that the more expensive SCSI lines (usaully).  I think that western digital has jsut started making a more enterprise designed line of SATA's.  SAN's are still the best way to go...  Then SCSI if not SAN.

Also pay attention to memory, as that is usaully the bottleneck.

Here are some of the deployment tools.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/stresstool.mspx
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by:computerfixins
ID: 16301506
I had stopped posting here originally because of a siimlar commet by jhance.  

Comments like
"I'm assuming that this is for a business purpose and you're the recommender.  If you choose poorly and the system doesn't meet the needs, who's going to get the blame?  Experts-Exchange?  I doubt it!  It's going to be your fault."

do nothing but make people move to another message forum.

After coming back after a 6 month leave, I see that nothing has changed...

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by:computerfixins
ID: 16303010
The author of the orignal question seems to think otherwise.

The attiude reminds me of a famous quote...

"if you do not know the answer to the question; then don't ask."
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Assisted Solution

by:garycase
garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 16314070
Guys !! (& gal) ==> no reason to turn this into a dialogue about whether or not anyone was offended, and if so who did what to whom.   It's not at all clear to me that computerfixin's comment was offensive to jhance -- but its crystal clear that mustekkzn was offended by jhance's "tone".   And he did, after all, note at the very beginning of his question:  "I just want to ask a broad, general question to allow for a better understanding of different server specifications."

mustekkzn -- jhance's comments are correct in terms of identifying SPECIFIC performance parameters that you might expect;  but in terms of a broad, general understanding of the relative performance of different server specifications, the RELATIVE user numbers computerfixin provided should give you an idea of the scaling effect you would see with different size server configurations.  The ACTUAL user numbers would, as jhance noted, be very dependent upon the specific applications you are running and the level of activity within those applications.

As for your specific question r.e. the merits of a HT P-IV vs a dual-core P-IV vs a single Xeon vs a dual-CPU Xeon configuration ==>  I'll just make a couple of generalizations here:   A Xeon, at the SAME CLOCK speed, will very slightly outperform a P-IV ==> the primary advantage of a Xeon is not performance, but is higher reliability and a design that's optimized for multi-CPU environments.   Note that a dual-core CPU is NOT the same as two complete CPU's, and will not match a two-CPU system in performance (there's still a single I/O path, a single memory controller, etc.).   So in general terms, the 4 CPU's you've listed would have ascending performance in this order:  (1)  Pentium-IV;  (2) single Xeon;  (3) dual-core Pentium-IV; and (4) dual Xeon.   Obviously you can gain even more performance by further scaling to a 4-CPU Xeon system (as computerfix suggested).

Note that Microsoft's stated requirements for an Exchange Server system are quite modest; but as you scale users you'll find that you need a fairly robust, high-bandwidth, storage subsystem and the "horsepower" to manage it.   The best way to get a really good feel for your system's capabilities is to install Exchange Server on a test system, and then stress it with either some of Microsoft's testing tools (e.g.
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=94B9810B-670E-433A-B5EF-B47054595E9C&displaylang=en) or one of the available 3rd party tools designed for this purpose.
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Expert Comment

by:computerfixins
ID: 16318056
I was trying to deaden the blow that jhance had meant by his commets...

With such obvious displays of nepotism, who would want to post in CS and have the admins publicly berate them... (just look at above posts)



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Author Comment

by:mustekkzn
ID: 16332336
Hi Experts

Well, it looks like a lot has gone at this post over the last 2 days. Sorry I have not replied sooner but I have been out of the office for the last day or 2.

Many thanks to both experts, computerfixins and garycase, for your input. I will definitely be making use of the development tools and utilities both of you mentioned, as well as taking heed of the certain factors and variables I must take into consideration before committing on the hardware specification. As such I feel it appropriate to split the points evenly.

Many Thanks again experts
Mustekkzn
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Author Comment

by:mustekkzn
ID: 16332367
Hi Experts

Well, it looks like a lot has gone at this post over the last 2 days. Sorry I have not replied sooner but I have been out of the office for the last day or 2.

Many thanks to both experts, computerfixins and garycase, for your input. I will definitely be making use of the development tools and utilities both of you mentioned, as well as taking heed of the certain factors and variables I must take into consideration before committing on the hardware specification. As such I feel it appropriate to split the points evenly.

Many Thanks again experts
Mustekkzn
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