What would be the fastest and most effective network configuration for a small company heavily using CAD?

Posted on 2007-08-07
Last Modified: 2013-12-23
Currently our network is comprised of:

Dell 2950 Server (Hard Drives are in a Signal RAID 5 array. It is broken up into 3 partitions (one system, one exchange, and one "CAD files") - I realize this is not the ideal situation, but budget limited this at the time.

- The server (Our Domain Controller - Windows 2003 SBS R2) is running: (it is connected to a dell 24 port 1000/100/10 switch through a single 1000/100/10 NIC with CAT 6 Ethernet cabling)
AND sharing all the CAD files

- All computers are connected to the switch with 1000/100/10 NIC's and CAT 6 Ethernet.

I would like to get the best performance possible (models can be hundreds of megabytes) without going to something like fiber optic cabling. I am wondering if I would notice a huge performance gain if I were to purchase another server dedicated solely to sharing the CAD files? I am not stuck on another server, It just something that came to mind, any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Question by:Gssc1414
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Instead of another server you may wish to look into a Direct attatched storage device such as the MD1000.  I am guessing your are having I/O contention with your Exchange information store and these large files being stored on the same array.  I know they are logically seperated by partitions but they are still using the same I/O subsystem.  

    The MD1000 would also give you the ability to expand storage when needed, connect multiple servers if you ever get another, and you can daisy chain up to three for enormous amounts of storage.  

    It can use 750GB SAS drives and is quite fast using the SAS interface with your 2950.
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    hi there, you could upgrade the ram in the server to the maximum amount possible - say 4GB, add a second Gigabit Network card to the server, team the network cards together and join them to the Gigabit switch. This would give your server a network link of 2Gigabytes and the extra RAM should be more than sufficient to handle an SBS server even with CAD drawings. Also you could add another hard disk to your RAID 5 array (I am presuming you are only using 3 disks at the moment) and this would speed up disk I/O performace.
    LVL 3

    Author Comment

    Hmm... well the server has an additional Gigabyte NIC that is not being used. If I were to connect it to the switch, what special settings would i need to configure to have  the two work together? (Sorry, I have never done this). Would this be considered TOE Load-balancing of the NIC's? Also, i have ran some performance monitors in an attempt to find any bottlenecks in the server, and haven't came up with anything. Is there certian counters that I should especially pay attention to?

    The server hardware specs are:

    4 GB memory
    (2) Dual Core Xeon 3.0 Ghz processors (I know SBS Standard Edition can only utilize 1 physical processor, but Dell was offering the second for I figured why not :/)
    (2) BroadCom BCM5708C NetXtreme II GigE NIC's

    The third-party software that came with the NIC is "BroadCom Advanced Control Suite 2", and im guessing i need to configure a "team" for the NIC's the work in conjunction with one another. Is this correct? If so, what option would be appropriate for my application? Smart Load Balancing (TM) and Failover, Link Aggregation (803.3ad), Generic Trunking (FEC/GEC)/802.3ad-Draft Static, or SLB (Auto-Fallback Disable)?

    Thank again, I appreciate all the help!
    LVL 10

    Accepted Solution

    HI again, sorry about the delay in getting back to you. You are correct in guessing that the Broadcom software suite is used to create the network team. Firstly connect a second cat 6 cable to the second nic and connect it to your Gigabit switch. Make sure that the NIC isn't set to disabled in the network connections window.
    You would then select the option to configure a team and the Smart Load Balancing and Failover option would be best suited to your needs. WHat this means is that whilst the two NICs are up and running, it will utilise the capacity of each one and load balance the network throughput between them. The failover option means that if one of the NICs becomes faulty, then it would failover to the working NIC and your server and LAN would keep on working without any problems - except for the fact that it would be back down to the total capacity of 1 NIC which is 1GB.

    Hope this clears things up!
    LVL 3

    Author Comment

    Great....Thanks for all your help. I will apply this setting as soon as i get a change to fool around with the network a little.

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