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small biz server + backup recommendations

Posted on 2006-06-09
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Hi All

I need to buy another application server. I've been given a budget of $3355 to $4100 in $US but can probably get a little more if I mount a good business case

Our current servers have twin xeons. In the DL range the twin processor models seem expensive.

Is there another range that would be better value?

Currently we have SCSI arrays. About 50 users at the moment - business been growing by 10% each year so say 80 users to be safe. Can I cut costs by going to SATA?

The main application currently uses a foxpro database back end and is disk I/O intensive - it is going to sql2005. Is it worth going for the twin processors?

And what should the drive config be - an OS mirror with a raid array for the data or is it better to put the lot on the 6i card?

Thanks tremendously.
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Question by:ausadmin
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by:David_Fong
David_Fong earned 600 total points
ID: 16868830
You can cut the cost by using SATA but you cut performance and reliability as well so it's not really worth it unless it's a backup or archival near-line server.

It sounds like you only need single CPU and 6 72GB 15K SCSI disks in a DL380G4 with write cache enabler is probably what you want but maybe a bit pricey once you add redundant fans and CPU. You can mix RAID 5 and RAID 10 on the same disks but with todays size of disks it isn't really necessary any more,  RAID 10 set using all 6 disks for the OS with write cache off with about 20GB and the rest also in RAID10 for data/logs with write cache on ought to be fairly good performance. SQL doesn't use the page file which is why I would have 2 logical disks to avoid wasting write cache on the system disk.
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by:ausadmin
ID: 16875745
Thx - the DL380 is a great box but yes pricey - any reasonable alternatives?

Could you please explain the raid config a little more - correct me pls but wouldn't raid 10 give me 2x 72 GB as my storage space?   Then the prob is that if I go to 120GB disks I've got to buy 6 of them?

And (groan) I've got a 3rd party vendor that says that all us network guys are just SCSI happy and he's using SATA servers all over the place.  Any links to ammunition?  
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IPKON_Networks earned 900 total points
ID: 16880777
I would look to memory as a definite addon to speed up SQL pre-fetch caching. Also, RAID1 is fast and resilient, or RAID10 for more disks. However, I would probably look to use RAID5 on 3 76GB drives, RAID1 on pair of 76GB drive for OS and binaries. This leaves a floating Hot Spare for both arrays. This will give you 150GB useable. If this is not enough either up the disk size to 143GB or 300GB drives.

On a single CPU, 4GB RAM DL380 G4 you would be advised to limit your disk space in SQL to around 300GB max anyway. Allocate SQL to as much memory as possible to maximise the caching capabilities of SQL. Also, use lots of transaction logging on a sperate disk if possible. An alternative configuration would be
3 x RAID1 pairs.
1 for OS and Binaries
1 for Data
1 for Log files & SQL Dumps

This would make the OLAP speeds much faster as the disks are not contending for anything.

Minimum RAM = 4GB. Controller needs pre-fetch caching battery backup. This would make for a disk I/O performance based system.

SCSI is faster, SATA is cheaper but slower. As you state I/O performance is a key, stick with SCSI.  However there are SATA with NCQ drives that are coming up to spec wrt outright disk speeds. SCSI uses a lot less CPU cycles so I would still stick with this, especially on a SQL server.

Hope this helps
Barny
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by:ausadmin
ID: 16939459
Thx tremendously Gents

To hit the price point it looks like my options are to drop the cache enabler on a dl385 and enable write through caching as versus looking at an ML350 with the enabler

http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=03000000LKZO 
They seemed happy but http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/70392/hp-proliant-ml350-g4.html had a couple of concerns:

Cooling is nowhere near as good as that found in the TX300, though. There's only a pair of active processor heatsinks, a fan in the power supply and a large variable-speed fan at the rear of the chassis. None of the fans are truly hot-swappable, and the hard disk and expansion bays have no accompanying fans or any facilities to fit one to them.

Furthermore, it was disconcerting to hear the main chassis fan constantly varying its speed, indicating that either its sensor was too sensitive or it was having trouble holding a stable internal temperature.

Are these dealbreakers?  What is people's experience of this box?

Whew end of Q - if I have any more I'll post another Q with title:
small biz server + backup recommendations2  Thanks again

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Author Comment

by:ausadmin
ID: 16939472
Whoops I forgot to mention that I was going to go dual CPU in the 350.  They don't have dual core options and a single 3.0 Xeon doesn't seem much these days.
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Author Comment

by:ausadmin
ID: 16939478
Oh last Q - IPKON

I like your idea of 3 mirrors - probably need to get a better card.  The same argument would apply to exchange wouldn't it?
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Author Comment

by:ausadmin
ID: 17119824
Any ideas?  Like to close this Q.
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Author Comment

by:ausadmin
ID: 17238312
Thanks for the tips guys :)  Sorry taken so long to close off - been sandbagged with a major project.
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