What server configuration do I need?

Need a server that will supply a few services to 25 user's. This server will run SBS 2003 R2 standard, it will run Exchange services. Of course be the domaine controler. I also have a need for 2Tb of storage.  I think a Proliant ML350 would be ok for the job but many many options are available. I would think that I would need 2 Quad-Core Xeon E5410, 4Gb of RAM, RAID5 configuration with 4x 500Go, redundant Power and fan and a second network card.

Maybe I need a second server for file storing? Should I use 2 drives in RAID 1 for OS and 3 other drives in RAID 5 for DATA?  I was thinking of Virtuel servers for redondancy, ether Microsoft virtuel server or VMWare. Budget about 6500$ for this. What do you think?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I think you are wasting LOTS of money on hardware you will never come close to fully utilizing.

Mostly in the area of the processors.  Dual Quad Core?  WHY?  What do you think is going to utilize the CPU so much.  SBS came out 5 years ago -- before Quad Core processors were available - or dual core for that matter.  And it worked fine for most businesses back then.

I've got servers running SINGLE core processors in Small Business Environments and the SINGLE core is IDLE 90% of the time - with 15-20 users.  A dual core would be enough... if you REALLY want to spend the money, then get ONE Quad Core ... and if you REALLY think CPU is going to be your performance bottleneck, then get a system EXPANDABLE to TWO CPUs, but START with one.

Have you ever setup SBS before?  I would tend to doubt it... in which case, I would STRONGLY recommend you familiarize yourself with the product - ESPECIALLY if you already know how to manage a Windows Server... because if you already know how to manage a Windows server, you WILL mess this up severely if you don't learn the differences and how it should be managed (I know from experience - my first SBS install was a mess because I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing).

Redundant power isn't a bad idea and if it's in your budget, by all means, do it.  Second NIC would not be absolutely necessary, but a good idea if you intend to setup SBS in the preferred configuration.

A virtual system wouldn't be a bad idea... but considering such a system would rely on the physical server, it wouldn't make much really redundant...

The RAID config you describe would probably be best - 2 Mirrored, 3 RAID 5.  Then you can split Exchange databases and log files on different disks and put the Volume Shadow Copy data on a different set of spindles as well.

Strongly recommend you review my SBS page - http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/sbs.asp
yvalleeAuthor Commented:
First, thanks for the link, I'll look into it. But I don't think you've answered my question very well.

Second, yes I did setup a SBS before. And I find that it utilizes a lot of CPU mostly because of Exchange. I would think that a company that uses SBS needs the server to do everything. File sharing, DC, Exchange maybe Sharepoint, OWA, SQL... etc. Why would Microsoft cram everything into SBS if there's a possibility that you use every service?  I know it need's plenty of memory, maybe more then I listed... If so, maybe I need Server 2003 instead if I need more than one server to do the job since you can only have one SBS on a network.

I find your approach interesting when you type "Have you ever setup SBS before?  I would tend to doubt it... "  AND   " because I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing)." .  I don't know what you're implementing really and I don't think your reaction is called for. If you really need to share that everyone asking for advise or a question is an idiot than fine.. If I had a master's degree on the subject, I wouldn't have to ask advice now would I? I don't have time to waste on ego trips. If you're not knowledgeable enough to supply expertise that I can count on, then don't.

I am a member that is asking experts for their advice. That's what Expert Exchange is their for !  I would recommend not wasting my time nor Expert Exchanges reputation.

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I'm sorry if you were offended... however, if you were very familiar with SBS, then you would know it cannot use more than 4 GB of RAM... yet you imply you can add more -  "I know it need's plenty of memory, maybe more then I listed..."

By acknowledging my own initial deficiencies initially I was attempting to illustrate that you may very well know exactly what you are doing in a typical server environment... clearly you have some knowledge referring to plans for Virtualization and RAID, but if you review other questions similar to yours (requirements for SBS) you would see few if any that approach the hardware specifications you have suggested.  Quite simply, you are going WAY overboard on hardware.  Will the server work?  ABSOLUTELY.  Are you spending MUCH more money than you need to?  ABSOLUTELY.  

If you feel exchange requires so much horsepower, I suggest that you either misconfigured it, or that your users were VERY abnormally heavy e-mail users.  One of my clients, with 20 users, sends large images back and forth with their clients on a regular basis.  The system was last rebooted 10 days ago and according to GFI Mail Essentials, the server has processed 13,700 messages - 12,000 of which were considered SPAM.  Total Message size was over 500 MB, or about 36.5K each.  The handle this load - as well as backups and other exchange related tasks, the Exchange Information Store (running on a SINGLE Core, Pentium 4 3.0 GHz HT enabled chip) has required slightly over 55 minutes during the 234 hours it's been on (468 hours task manager reports since this is an HT enabled CPU).  That means Exchange has utilized the CPU for 0.2% of the time.  So I don't know where you're getting your information or experience that Exchange is a CPU hog... if configured properly, it barely uses the CPU.  Further, according to task manager, the server has been idle for 440 of the 468 hours task manager is aware of.  That's a 94% idle time - with an OLD, single core, HT enabled Pentium 4 3.0 GHz.  You're talking about Xeon Quad Cores, which I think are also HT enabled... meaning that windows will see 16 processors (as compared to my 2) and probably end up with a 99% idle time.  MAYBE 98% with only one quad core and I suspect 95% at least with a dual core.  My most CPU intensive process is web services (inetinfo) which has used 4.83 hours of CPU time - or slightly above 1.0% of total CPU time -- and I've got a couple of custom web sites running of this system.  So you can see why your statements make me believe you don't truly have experience with SBS - even if you've set it up once before, it still does not mean you understand how it is to be used.  Like I said (and what I was implying is "no offense, I'm not perfect either") the first time I setup SBS I didn't understand it either and screwed it up.  I've been around EE for a LONG time.  And I've seen many SBS questions and I've worked with many SBS servers and with many non-SBS systems... and your specified hardware configuration is EXCESSIVE when it comes to CPU.

File Sharing is not a CPU intensive task.
DC functions (for 25 -- or even 1000 -- users) are not CPU intensive tasks
Sharepoint I haven't used much, but considering that RWW is based on it, it is not a CPU intensive task.
OWA is not a CPU intensive task.
SQL - unless you are running a LARGE database or require significant and frequent queries (1000's per hour) is not a CPU intensive task.  I have web sites running off my SQL server as well as WSUS and other SQL requiring apps and on my AMD Dual Core that's 2 years old, and it's used 17.55 MINUTES out of nearly 1600 hours (last restart was November 21).

Really, I would strongly encourage you to redirect the money you would on a CPU to a place it will really matter - if you want to spend that much.  At a 6th drive and do a RAID 1 on C and a RAID 10 on D.

I cannot control how you perceive my comments, but I did address your points in my first comment - you may not have liked the perceived tone but *I* never called you an idiot.


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yvalleeAuthor Commented:
Ok leew, let's forget about how thing were perceives and adress the advice part.

Thank you for all the explanation. It's acurate and of help...
I do know that you cannot use more than 4Go on a SBS 2003 since it's a 32bit OS. When I asked if I needed more mem it did go without saying that I would need a 64 bit OS, like server 2003 64b...

Anyway, thank you for your information, maybe their's a couple of configs I need to tune up on onother sbs2003 that's runnig on a P4 3.0 that I find slow.

For now, I want to replace an old server that has 2 Xeon procc and 512 Mo of RAM. It's running Windows 2000 server and Exchange 2000 server, It's the DC, of corse and has 2 SCSI 7Go drive configured in miror with Windows utility. Yes I know Why? I don't know, it's been their for a least 9 years they tell me. I just wanted some advice on hardware that would handle everything well AND have lot's of storage for DATA. Of course, everything need's to be safe in case of disk fail.

Anyway thanks for the advice.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
SBS 2008 can be expected to arrive in less than a year and that will be both a mess and a godsend... mess because you will have no direct upgrade from SBS 2003 because (and this is the godsend) it will be 64bit only.  

Some 32bit systems CAN provide access to more than 4 GB of RAM when using certain server class hardware.  Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition x86 version can support 64 GB of RAM.  It would have been nice if, among the tweaks to disable things in SBS, they also gave a tweak or two to ENABLE things like access to, say 16 GB of RAM.  Alas, they didn't...

Again, I think the rest of your plan was very appropriate for the intended use.  As I said, the only thing I might change is the RAID 5 to a RAID 10 if you really want to spend the money on an extra disk.  But even that's not vital, just a thought.  The one thing I find with my SBS P4 3.0 that tends to happen is when a volume Shadow copy hits, it does suck up CPU and disk cycles... but usually for just a minute or so. But that's in part because they have the system on a single RAID 5 - if I had room for another disk in the box, I'd put volume shadow copy on some unRAIDed drive with some otherwise unimportant (easily recoverable and not too frequently used) data.  That would significantly improve performance.

Best of luck to you
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