Microsoft Small Business server specifications.

Posted on 2006-11-23
Last Modified: 2010-04-19

Does any when have any thoughts or better still know of a decent guide to specifying hardware requirements specifically for SBS. I note that there are a number of guides aimed at corporate servers. However, the aim is to specify a “minimum cost” SBS server for 5 to 10 users with between 10,000 – 20,000 inbound emails a day. It will also need to be running Exchange indexing as well as its own Sophos SBE anti virus system.
It will not be running SQL but will be running the ISA firewall.
The Email is currently configured to use a pop3 collection tool and the current size of the Exchange database files are around 9 Gigs each.
Many thanks
Question by:JPFN
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Expert Comment

ID: 18002049
A good SBS server would be an HP ml 350 or 370 as you know your be able to get parts in 2 years time if price is everything then Dell and forget the extented warrenty and buy a cold spare

Author Comment

ID: 18002198
Hi  tim1731
That sounds like sound advice as a purchasing strategy. However, I need to be able to show the technical justification of why one server would be more appropriate than say a cheap desktop PC. The system originally described is effectively running on a 4 year old desktop PC. The problem with this is that it can not be upgraded any further and it is sluggish to respond and end users are unhappy and productivity is diminishing.  
The typical argument is just put in the most you can afford especially with SBS. However, I need a bit more documented justification specific to SBS hardware requirements.  
To me it seems obvious that you will need a degree of expandability i.e. room for more drives, more RAM, more processors etc.  I have been unable to find an independent guide covering the kinds of server geometry and the SBS performance that you would expect to get.
Thanks again

Accepted Solution

tim1731 earned 500 total points
ID: 18002288

A server is designed to be on 24/7 a desktop isnt but

1.Needs 2 psu to go to 2 seperate power supplies for redundancy
2.Needs hot swap drives and room to expand the storage
3.needs extra pci for modem for fax from destop in sbs and or fibre storage or tcp offload card for backup
4.dual pro for redundancy (ie one goes its still working)
5.A server should last 3-5 years so spares need to be easy to get hence the HP/Compaq range
6.Gigibit network card to connect users to switch
7.2GB and Ram and should be able to take 8GB

I have a p2 1850 running here as my backup webserver and 15 years and its still running

This may help this would be a mimimum spec

Author Comment

ID: 18004168
Not including the software there is a range of difference between a PowerEdgeTM  SC1430 at around £500 with a single Zeon processor and a DELL PowerEdge™ 2900 at around £6.500 with 6 high speed SCSI drives and two Dual Zeon processors.

The PowerEdge SC1430 will run SBS. However, CPU intensive admin procedures slow down the system and people cannot use Outlook email etc until it is finished even on a three user system. Typically this would suit a small office that sends out a few Emails a day with only two or three staff who are in no great hurry.

The Dell PowerEdge 2900 whilst having the speed and performance to do just about anything you could wish for with SBS would be too noisy to run in a Small office even if they could afford it. However, if it was a small ‘profitable’ business where IT availability and performance was absolutely mission critical they would need to run this type of server in a dedicated computer room.  

There are countless papers detailing SCSI and RAID performance verses SATA RAID drives etc. However, I have not seen anyone compile a list of what solution can be provided by any given server geometry.  The Microsoft “basic requirement list” that "tim1731" kindly provided just shows what would allow the server to start and run a couple of basic functions. The ‘recommended’ option means that it will start and run with reasonable performance for 5 to 10 users provided you do not switch on all the features and expect it to receive and index 10,000 emails a day, provide any sort of redundancy or successfully handle any change of use*.  

*A list would also be useful in situations where there was a change of use during the systems operational lifetime. I.e. company merger, new line of business new business application etc.

A couple of years ago I was very impressed with an SBS MVP who had set up a web site and forum running on an SBS server. He had written several scripts that detailed what the server was doing, the hardware being used and showed the real time performance of the server.  This was good to get a real world comparison with the hardware available at the time.
When I used to work for a software house every so often this kind of question would come up as to what was “the recommended hardware requirements” for the particular software. And then as now there was no table or list that I could point clients at so they could see for themselves what was available for the underlying Operating system.

Over the years I have also seen a large number of under specified servers where a sales company has simply put in the cheapest possible quote to secure the deal. Sadly this always leaves the client with a duff system in a very short space of time.
Thanks again

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