How to properly use a server?

Posted on 2006-06-11
Last Modified: 2010-04-18
I have three servers.  Currently, most of everything on the network is being run by one server (we grew rapidly), but I will be implementing two other servers: one for Exchange, the other for file, print, and sql servers.  I understand that you shouldn't use the main server (which is the pdc by the way) for normal use, but what's a good recomendation for applications to run and not run on a primary server?  Should Office be loaded?  Should normal applications be run or should the server be used as little as possible?  Basically, what's the ideal application/service load for a primary server?

OS is Windows Server 2003 Standard.

Question by:Kevin Smith
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Accepted Solution

llefebure earned 125 total points
ID: 16882689
Don't think of your main server as the PDC, since the PDC/BDC concept is gone in Windows 2000 and 2003. It might be the only domain controller you have, but if you had more, they are more of a peer based thing instead of a master/slave thing. Note there is a PDC emulator role, but that is just for compatibility to old NT4 BDCs that you could still have in a domain.

The domain controller load is very small, and I'd probably make it your main file/print server too. I would also make your exchange server be a domain controller, just so you have a second copy of the active directory replica. Heck, I'd personally think of making the third (SQL) server also be a domain controller too.

Do you need office installed on one of the servers for some reason? Maybe you are just wanting to copy the Office install CD to the server so you can install it over the network in the future.

If you have more than one domain controller, and one of the servers is really busy, then the clients will just authenticate to a different server. Multiple copies of the AD database are good though, in case one server dies, the rest can continue to function.
LVL 48

Assisted Solution

Jay_Jay70 earned 125 total points
ID: 16882927
i woul disagree on a couple of those points

1) do not make your exchange box a domain controller, exchange has enough load to do itself and is highly reccomended to be run a separate box. if active directory or the domain controller crashes, you lose your entire exchange setup which is not as easily recovered as Active Directory is. There are hundreds of links backing this so if you need clarification on it just do a search on EE alone and you will find a heap!

2) more than two domain controllers is overkill on a single site setup. a good rule of thumb is 2 DC's per site where possible, 1 Global catalog and 2 DNS server per site, anything else is overkill and unnecessary

3) a DC load should be kept minimal, a Server OS is designed to optimise directory services so logging on a and running applications isnt a great idea, if you have to then you have to, but if you can, keep the machine as clean and free as possible
LVL 13

Assisted Solution

2hype earned 50 total points
ID: 16886811
Yeah it is not reccomended to install Exchange on a DC although it can and is done.  Making the file/sql server a DC would be a good idea for fault tolerance and if you have to take one DC down for matinace or a reboot exchange and logons wont see any downtimes.

I would try to keep my DC's as clean as possible with installed programs.  Although Office probally wont hurt anything on your DC if you needed it.

Expert Comment

ID: 16890923
You guys make some good points, but last I checked, Microsoft didn't recommend putting either Exchange or SQL on a DC. Personally, I would rather have the redundancy of the AD database over a possible loss of performance from running the DC functions.

Whatever you end up with for DCs, make them all global catalogs. If you only have one domain, then there really isn't any extra data to replicate. Exchange likes to see a GC, so you can have either DC down and Exchange is still happy. More importantly, AD doesn't like to replicate certain things if you don't have your FSMO roles split up, but by having all DCs as GCs, that goes away. In a small network, it's just simpler. If you had more than 1 site, then a single GC in each site would be better for replication traffic.

In my experience, you are more likely to see the CPU on a SQL server at full load, in comparison to the load on an Exchange server. Thus my recommendation to make the exchange box be a DC. From what I've read, Microsoft's recommendation against Exchange+AD is from a performance standpoint, where as SQL+AD is not recommended for both a performance and security standpoint. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, as I always like to learn.

One more thing, whatever you do, don't run dcpromo on the exchange server after it has exchange installed. Pick your solution before you install exchange on it. Changing a server to/from a DC after Exchange is installed is not a good idea.
LVL 48

Expert Comment

ID: 16890960
i wouldnt be a fan of SQL or exchange on a DC, there is only negatives that can come from it

one GC is enough, with 2003 you can use universal group caching which is a cut down GC

one DC is enough per site in reality, 2 is ideal. but if you are running SQL and exchange,  beef up one server to handle both of them on one box and have two DC's running

FSMO roles are perfectly fine being held on one DC. they can be split up if needed but i dont see the point in a small domain

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