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Server Purchases and Setup

Hello, I'm looking to leverage someone's experience on some upcoming hardware purchases I have to make mainly in the server area.

I have been given the challenge to build a highly available infrastructure that is VERY secure and redundant, this will be a new build which will include Firewall purchases as well . The complete infrastructure setup needs to be scalable to start as the user count to start is only about 100 web based users which will turn into 1500 to 2000 users very quickly.

The database backend will be SQL2005 and the primary application which will feed the users over the web is very photo intensive and will need allot of storage 1terabyte ++. The OS will be Server 2003.

I was thinking of going with a two server setup to start (application server, SQL Server). I will not discuss what I've been looking at for servers as I'm looking for new ideas.

Does anyone have any suggestions on best practices and servers for my needs ?
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fireup
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fireup
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chuckyhCommented:
One way to get high availability is with virtualization. You can get a blade chassis from Dell, HP, IBM, etc. Get a SAN from EMC. Buy a few blades and boot Vmware off the SAN. If a blade dies, just boot another one up on the SAN. If a guest machine dies, bring up an old snapshot of it. Need a new server? Just copy a vm image and boot that up.
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fireupAuthor Commented:
I'm been to several blade conferences but have not looked closely into them, Do you have any preferences on Dell or HP ?
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chuckyhCommented:
Whoever is cheaper really, you may have to talk to a HP sales person to get a better price than their web site though. They both make decent blade servers.
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fireupAuthor Commented:
any what would you recommend for VMWare ??
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chuckyhCommented:
They'll both run vmware fine, you just need lots of RAM and the more cores the better.
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lnkevinCommented:
I am not a huge VMware fan although you can save some bucks. I rather go for a traditional server cluster with SAN storage for high availability and scalability. In term of servers, I work in both HP and Dell environment. HP is way better in quality compare to Dell for the same class of server. HP comes with iLo package that allows you remotely power on or off your server.
Here is the solution in my opinion:
- Two physical HP servers set up clustering config failover, and load balacing (need Windows 2003 Enterprise version)
- EMC San storage in the back end with different storage group using for different application or purpose
- Teaming the NIC on each server and connect each NIC port to a different vlan or subnet for higher availability

K


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fireupAuthor Commented:
K, this might be a stupid question so sorry .. I will be running SQL backend on my primary application, do I need unique SQL licence on each server in the cluster ? how many servers can I run in a cluster ?
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lnkevinCommented:
Here are the answers:

SQL license:
You only need 1 license of SQL Enterprise to install on your two nodes (failover cluster) because you only use one active node with 1 license anyway. Here is the article about it from MS (scroll down to see it):
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/sql/2000/reskit/part2/c0461.mspx?mfr=true

How many cluster node?
For Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition, you can have up to 8 nodes clustering (as of now). Your case, you only need 2 nodes for failover, but if you want to set up more than two nodes for load balancing purposes in the future, you are able to do so. Make sure you have more license of SQL if have more than one active nodes.

K
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fireupAuthor Commented:
K, What are your thoughts on the HP ProLiant DL380 G5 as a server for what your describing ?
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fireupAuthor Commented:
one other thing, both of you mentioned a SAN from EMC. Would either of you have any recommendations on what unit to go with ? I would need a terabyte to start with room to grow from there.

Thanks for all the help so far.
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lnkevinCommented:
fireup,

G5 is the best one as I would like to recommend you. However, be aware of this vesion does not come with a floppy drive, so if you want to work on some project that requires floppy drive, you need to purchase a USB floppy (no big deal). We just purchased 16 G5 servers for a project and I am working on setting up a NLB cluster (network load balancing).
G5 worth your money overall.

K
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lnkevinCommented:
For your environment, the EMC Clariion AX150 is the best suite for your case. It is upgradeable and cost effective as well. Your storage upgrade option range from 750 GB to 6 TB. Check this product at EMC:
http://www.emc.com/products/systems/clariion/ax150/index.jsp

K
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andyalderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
Where are you storing the pictures? In SQL blob or as NTFS files?

I don't think you should look at clustering to start with, SQL enterprise per CPU licenses are very expensive as opposed to standard. The DL380 G5 is already redundant as far as PSUs, fans and disks and the chances of anything else failing are pretty slim. DL360 G5 for the front end if it's hosted to cut down on the Us that you pay for, only need Win2k3 web edition for that.

If you want server redundancy you can write the web code to upload any photos to two backend servers or to two backend NTFS/CIFS shares which will keep them both up to date, similar to a dual-phase commit from a client. Then you won't need a SAN either, just an additional shelf of disks or two if it grows big.

We had an HP spiff day today, baloons on all the desks in sales, free piza for lunch and servers at cut-down prices for 2 days only ;)
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fireupAuthor Commented:
andyalder, thanks for the suggestion.

If I was to go with two DL380 G5's and make one my front end server running 03 std edition and make the second running 03 Server Std with SQL STD 05. My SQL database size will be big with allot of images in the database. With that being said I willl need to have an adittional shelf of disks connected to the SQL server, any suggestions on what would be best for my needs ? I need high I/O and performance will be measured.
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andyalderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
Put web edition on the front end, it's cheaper.

The smaller the disks the faster the I/O so in general use 2.5" SAS disks same as you put in the server for speed, they won't get to 750GB or 1TB per disk size like the 3.5" SATA ones though. MSA50 takes 10 * 147 GB 2.5" SAS for 1U space and MSA70 takes 25 of them in 2Us, both cascade 1+1 per 4-lane SAS bus. The DL380 backplane can be split 4+4 so you can have two RAID 1s for OS plus logs or tempdb on the first 4 in the server on the RAID controller that comes with it and then the second 4 can be added to the 10 in a single array for the pictures on the second RAID controller that you need for the external storage.
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fireupAuthor Commented:
andyalder,

I like your suggestion the best so far as it offers room to grow and is the most cost effective. With that being said I just needed to ask the question again ..do you see any performance losses with having the MSA70 array as opposed to running two servers in a cluster? my SQL database will be run off the array on the MSA70.
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andyalderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
No performance losses and even a slight gain since there isn't a SAN switch and bunch of electronics in between the disks and the server. The benefits of a SAN aren't relevant for a single server, you don't need the flexibility of sharing disks between a number of servers and with photos the larger cache that a SAN may offer isn't likely to help since I suspect most of the work will be read rather than write.
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