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SBS server DL vs. ML

I am looking into buying a SBS 2003 R2 Premium server for use with 15 users (mostly mobile) and about 8 winmo5 smartphones.  I will taking full advantage of the SBS system; AD, shares, shadow copies, Exchange, ActiveSync, OWA, VPN, Print Server, fax service, ISA, Sharepoint etc... (everything except sql for the time being) however I know 15 users is not exactly hitting the max. cap. on the SBS servers 75 user limit so I dont want to over purchase.

currently the machine I have quoted out is the following:
HP Proliant ML250 G5 Tower
Dual Core Xeon 5120 1.86Ghz
4gb pc2-5300 4x1 GB memory
Smart Array E200/64mb raid controller
2x80 gb sata 7200rpm sata (for system disk and replication/redundancy which raid type is this??)
4x160 gb sata 7200rpm sata (for data,exchange,paging file??, client apps)(320gb on two disks mirrored to the other two or stripped im not sure about raid config this is the first time i use it)
embedded gigabit network adapter
pcie gigabit server adapter
2x1000w power supplies
dvd+rw drive (ill see about a std. dvd drive for cost savings)
hp storage works dlt vs160 internal tape drive
faxmodem


here are the questions remembering the application:

is the ml overkill? can i find a suitable dl model system.

if i stick with the ml should i get the rackmount even though i dont currently have a rack just in case?

the rack mount version has a different raid system that has two benfits i can see 1. six disks which gives me a "hot spare" and that is good right? and 2. the disks are sccessible from the outside on sleds so I dont have to open the system to get at them this must be better right? or are the towers drive on simple internal sleds.

please comment on the raid configuration options with some brief suggestions I will be doing my homework on EXACTLY which means but a short summary and a point in the right direction would help.

Storageworks tape drive worth it or should i get another companies unit or a usb 2.0 hard drive for backups

are these dlt data cartridges standard tapes or proprietary hp units

thanks experts i know this sort of a hardware specific question but i dont want to cross post on my FIRST question

J
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jessequijano
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jessequijano
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budchawlaCommented:
I'm sure you'll get plenty of opinions here, but here are my initial thoughts:

Rack-mount vs Tower: If you don't have a rack then buy a tower server! For most tower servers you can get a rack-mount kit later if you should need one. Check that this is possible if it's important to you.

I generally use Dell, but I believe the PowerEdge 1900 is equivalent to the ML350 G5. I don't know the ML250 (?) but the spec seems to do pretty much everything you'd want.

My advice:

Get a same-day warranty with a 4-hr turnaround. I used to get NBD warranties until I needed them & realised that for a couple of hundred £ you can get a lot more uptime.

Use disk-based backups, tapes are pretty much redundant now IMHO. Even Microsoft is pulling support for tape-based backups in the near future. Use multiple USB drives on a rotating schedule if needed.

Use a good reliable online backup service to backup your critical business data. A good safe backup of the main business data is worth it's weight in gold!

Use a 2-disk RAID-1 (mirror) for your system drive and a RAID-5 array for your data drive. How many disks is basically a question of how much storage you need & what capacity disks you can get. Remember  that with RAID-5 you lose the equivalent of 1 drive to parity, so calculate storage on that basis (ie if you have 4x 250GB drives, you will get about 750GB of storage).

You can get hot-plug drive bays in tower servers no problem, the ML350 can take 6 3.5" SAS or SATA drives. This feature isn't unique to rackservers.

One thing with SBS is that even if you've only got 15 users, there is a lot of stuff running on the server, so get the best spec you can. Make sure you allow for growth over the next 3yrs or so... having said that, your spec seems pretty adequate. I normally get slightly faster CPUs (like the 5160) but they're more expensive and perhaps I'm still stuck in the days of being obsessed with clock speeds :-)

Oh and I would definitely recommend getting a decent firewall at the gateway (check out the SonicWALL Total Secure 25) to round off the network!

Good luck!
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jessequijanoAuthor Commented:
thanks bud,

i think i am going to take you advise and buy 2 usb hd for rotating the backup.

can anyone comment specifically to the dl vs. ml and the ml rack vs. tower and if the hp storage system is proprietary
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budchawlaCommented:
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the only difference between them is that the DLs are rack servers & the MLs are tower servers?? And which one you go for is a matter of whether you are going to put it in a rack or not?!
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jessequijanoAuthor Commented:
view this picture
http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/en/WF30a/15351-15351-241434-241646-241477-1121586.html

i can see the hotswappable raid disks on the rack mount but not on the tower.  are they behind a door on the tower or do i have to crack the case and access them from behind on the tower?
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jessequijanoAuthor Commented:
also is the 128mb raid controller better than the 64mb controller in this type of application?
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budchawlaCommented:
As I said, I'm not that familiar with the HPs so you would be better off calling HP pre-sales for this kind of thing - but I imagine that the drive bays are either behind the server or behind the plastic front bezel which you can take off without "cracking" the case :-)
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budchawlaCommented:
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jessequijanoAuthor Commented:
thanks bud.
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