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Should I buy a real server

Posted on 2006-11-11
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Last Modified: 2010-04-18
I am learning Windows 2003;  Should I buy a real server or simply install Windows 2003 Server an a regular high-end computer?

What advantage is there to buying a "True Server" ?

Can't any high-end computer serve as a Server?

I am thinking to go 64 bit AMD processor.

http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/dimen_c521?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd
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Question by:kamleshmistry
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15 Comments
 
LVL 96

Accepted Solution

by:
Lee W, MVP earned 200 total points
ID: 17921993
Get whatever you want.  Don't get anything - run a virtual machine.  If you're just learning, there's no reason to spend money on a computer unless you really want a computer.  That said, you might need to spend money on RAM (if you run a Virtual Server), but other than that, you should be fine as long as you have a "recent" computer.
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17921997
The only advantage to buying a true server is when you need a true server to handle the load.
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Author Comment

by:kamleshmistry
ID: 17922044
What if my long term goal was to create a small "True Network" with several servers (domain controller, child domain, active dir)  and several computers, just for sake of education.

I will be able to do all of these things with regular computers serving as servers?

Do I need a special nic card to create a regular computer into a server?

Even regular servers are not that expensive (800, dell), but top of the line reguar computers, I can get for half that price (350).

Thanks,
Kam
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LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:robjeeves
robjeeves earned 200 total points
ID: 17922050
G'day mate

Another avenue to explore ar at least incororate into your learning of Windows 2003 should be Microsoft Virtual Labs

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/traincert/virtuallab/windowsserver2003.mspx

They are free and let you get your hands on MS installs of Windows Servers and clients very quickly.  Great training resource.  These give you access and training guidance on multi server setups, something you can't or at least what takes a while to setup with Virtual Servers.

hope this helps

Rob
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Author Comment

by:kamleshmistry
ID: 17922097
Rob,

This is very interesting.  Thanks for sharing this.

Is this like a "Simulator" type of gui-educational training kit?

Have you used it, do you like it?

Is it totally free?

Thanks,
Kam
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17922108
I've seen people setup entire virtual networks - running Exchange, SMS, AD, etc, ALL in a virtual machine.  You just need enough RAM.

One advantage to the virtual networks (using Virtual PC or VMWare) - you can backup the installations to a DVD in about 10 minutes and restore them whenever you need to.  Or you can use "differencing" disks so that they can be restored virtually instantly.  Play around, screw it, be fixed in 2 minutes or less.

There's no special NIC, no special CPU, no special anything to run Windows Server.  In a PRODUCTION environment, then you want special hardware to make sure the system doesn't fail and that it performs as fast as possible for all your users.  But in a test/lab environment, it's truly a waste of money using new machines (when it's just yourself doing the studying).  MAYBE you have one or two boxes for experimenting with Deployment Services and/or RIS, but beyond that, there's almost nothing you can't do virtually (with enough RAM).
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Author Comment

by:kamleshmistry
ID: 17922136

So I need VMWare, and maybe one top of the line new computer.
Is that free?   Is it straightfoward to configure?  Are there any type of hardware restrictions that can run VM?

I'm getting very good answers here for exploring different avenues.
Thanks a bunch!



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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17922176
VMWare is considered by many to be the better product.  It's pretty straight forward and you can download the server version for free, I believe with Registration, at www.vmware.com

The other free alternative is www.microsoft.com/virtualpc

Virtual PC 2007 is supposed to start taking advantage of enhancements of CPUs to improve Virtual Machine (VM) performance.  I would expect VMWare will be doing the same soon as well.

You should also consider a subscription to Technet Plus - it includes licenses with no time limits for testing/evaluating/learning Microsoft products, including all servers, exchange, SMS, SQL, Office, Project, Visio, and MANY others.

Do you need one new PC?  Maybe - really depends what you have now.  Depending on how many concurrent VMs you want to run, and how much RAM you want to allot them (I would suggest 400-600 MB each), you can run about 5-10 on one system... You probably should look into a Dual Core or multi-CPU (or combination) box if you're running that many VMs.  Note: the VMs are not multiprocessor aware, but the VM software I BELIEVE is.
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LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:robjeeves
robjeeves earned 200 total points
ID: 17922193
Totally free. Provied my MS.  I have used in the past, mainly for Exchange.  They are a great addition to a training programme.  Take a look mate.  On the bigger scanarios with multiple Servers and client Pc's you can get all these up and running and testing/learning in a few minutes.

Rob
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:robjeeves
ID: 17922200
Just another though mate.  If you go the Virtual Route grab a free copy of Virtual Server from MS from here

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/software/default.mspx

Rob
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Author Comment

by:kamleshmistry
ID: 17922305
Leew,

Is there any reason you see why I can't create these VM's on a single top-of-the-line laptop.  I don't think so, but I wanted to double check with your expertise.

Thanks,
Kam
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Author Comment

by:kamleshmistry
ID: 17922312

It just comes accross odd (installing a server on a laptop...), so I thought I had to double check....
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17923151
Before I started using virtual machines, I used to multiboot every major Windows Operating System on my laptop.  As well as Linux and BeOS.  The biggest problem with that is that laptops, even top of the line laptops, have mediocre hard drive performance (7200 RPM).  A desktop you can get 10,000 RPM or 15,000 RPM SCSI and can setup RAID 10 for improved performance.  And of the major performance factors, disk performance is the slowest.  But, that said, there's no reason a laptop won't work.  

The idea behind using VMs is that the VM environment is identical (hardware wise) - you can move VMs to completely different systems and never know they were moved.
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LVL 20

Assisted Solution

by:Lazarus
Lazarus earned 50 total points
ID: 17923440
kamleshmistry, In support of Leew's statement... I currently am running VMServer on a 2.8ghz Intel P4 with 1Gig Ram, I have Windows Sever2003 R2 and Exchange 2003 and it's run flawlessly for a very long time. I use it for a test Lab and for experimintation. This iss not even near a top of the line computer and works just fine. Give it a try it's worth the saving in money untill you get to nkow it well enough that you want to get a REAL Server...
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LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:trenes
trenes earned 50 total points
ID: 17924812
Hi kamleshmistry,

This solution from MS sounds perfect for you and anybody else to test Server 2003 R2, Exchange 2007, SQL 2005 or ISA 2006.
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/results.aspx?pocId=&freetext=msvhds&DisplayLang=en

Cheers!
regards,

Trenes
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