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Replacing SBS server from Dell No RAID & no warranty

Posted on 2008-06-10
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I'm faced with some decisions and I need some advice bad....   I currently have a Dell Poweredge 1750 that host SBS 2003 sp1 (Exchange, DNS, AD and SQL report services) with 4Gig of RAM.
I'm faced with replacing this critical server because it has
- no RAID,
- out of warranty,
- low on disk space on all 3 drives
- every now the server has a loud humming (CPU I think). Task manager shows NO high usage, Perf mon does spike on disk.

I wanted to know if I could still use the old SBS server as a demoted member server to host IIS or something. I'm truly dreading this project, has anyone completed a similar task and any suggestion or advice would greatly be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:tips54
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 21754617
The CPU itself has no moving parts - the CPU FAN could be wearing down though.  

Keep in mind, you likely cannot transfer the SBS license to a new server, so you need to buy a new copy of SBS (my recommendation would be to WAIT if you can, about 3-6 months for the next version of SBS to be released.  You can add another hard drive and create a software mirror.

If you can't wait, then make sure you buy SBS with a VOLUME license (not OEM included with the server).  Then you'll be able to get the upgrade to the next version of SBS at no additional software licensing costs (though there is no direct upgrade so migrating can be very messy).

If you must migrate now, I suggest reviewing and purchasing the SBS Migration toolkit - www.sbsmigration.com - it's widely considered the best way to migrate from an old server to a new server.
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21758049
Yes Swing-It is the best way to migrate SBS into new hardware. Whether can you transfer your SBS licence to a new server depends on what type of licence you are holding. If your SBS licence (not user CALs) came with the machine and is an OEM version then you can't transfer it - OEM version of softwrae simply means it must stick with the hardware you purchased and is non-transferable. User CALs can be transfered.

You can't use the old server as a member server. You cannot demote SBS to member server. You also cannot have two SBS running in the same domain (well you can for 7 days when you do the migration but after 7 days the servers will keep shutting down regularly).

If you want to have a member server in your domain you need to wipe the harddisk (on your old server) and install a full version (not OEM) of Windows 2003 server. If this old server dies you can then transfer the W2K3 licence to another new server (so don't buy OEM as they are non transferable).

Your SBS user CALs will cover you the use of other Windows 2003 server in the domain so thats one less worry for you :)
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Author Comment

by:tips54
ID: 21765864
I'm really feel stuck at the moment. I have a quote to replace the server with a volume license this time and redundancy. But the fact of having to purchase OS to use with the old hard. i'm thinking of getting this Poweredge 2980 2K3 64bit with 8Gig ram and run a volume SBS in a Microsoft VM enviroment. I'm just thinking of the best possible option.

any thought, also is anyone here running SBS on vm?
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21767103
Put two OS on a VM is ok but you still need to purchase the licences.
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by:tips54
ID: 21768611
I'm ok with purchasing the volume OS. I guess I was asking for opinions on running SBS on VM instead of hardware.  I'm thinking if I reinstall SBS in VM than I would not be to concern with the out of warranty hardware and I could take my time to decommission it. really I just want to avoid messing with the existing SBS which is running perfectly fine with year of software configs. And then again I'm affraid of the fact it's out of warranty and no disk redundancy. If you were me what would you do?
I have another server that is in the same condition. It's a RAID 5 but no warranty and low on disk space.
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21768756
I wouldn't worry about the warranty at all. Even if you buy a new hardware it will be out of warranty in 3 years so are you telling me that you are going to buy new server (and do all the migration) every 3 years? Beside, warranty is nothing but parts - if your server fails within the warranty period all the manufacturer willl do is to send you the spare part and at most fix the parts for you. They don't care about your data and downtime.
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Author Comment

by:tips54
ID: 21769394
Good point ormerodrutter. Thank for all your input by the way.

Do you agree with living the server along and running SBS in vm just in case. has anyone run SBS on VM with the hardware host server being 64bit and i'm only going 64 bit to max the ram? The OS will be 64bit hosting files server and host VM's running SBS 2003 sp1 non 64bit.
Can anyone think of any potential issues?
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Lee W, MVP earned 50 total points
ID: 21771047
<quote>
I wouldn't worry about the warranty at all. Even if you buy a new hardware it will be out of warranty in 3 years so are you telling me that you are going to buy new server (and do all the migration) every 3 years? Beside, warranty is nothing but parts - if your server fails within the warranty period all the manufacturer willl do is to send you the spare part and at most fix the parts for you. They don't care about your data and downtime.
</quote>

This is horrible advice in my opinion.  As I've stated in other questions, the server runs your business.  If your data and the ability for your people to do work is important to your business (I don't know of a business where that isn't the case), then you MUST, MUST have a system under warranty.

Sure, the OEM doesn't care too much about your data... but YOU DO.  And if the mainboard fails, do you want to wait DAYS for a replacement part or do you want the server running again ASAP.  I STRONGLY recommend keeping your primary system under warranty AT ALL TIMES.  So yes, replace the system after 3 years... PLANNED down time is FAR better than unplanned downtime that has your staff sitting around twiddling their thumbs as.  And when you replace the main server, you can always turn the old one into a backup system of sorts and/or another workstation for the cost of a license.

Dell wants you as a customer and DOES understand the importance of getting a system running again.  Asus doesn't.  Dell has support 24x7 and supplies the parts quickly... you custom build a server and Asus, or whoever you buy the mainboard from is not going to be giving you 24x7 support and rushing out a new motherboard to replace the failed one.... not to mention, their likely try to blame another vendor for the failure to avoid affecting their bottom line.

As for running SBS 2003 on a VM, I see no problem with this, provided you have a SAN for storage of the VM so that you can move the VM to another system easily and that network/disk i/o performance will be as high as possible.  From all that I've heard of Hyper-V, I'd wait for that to go final and use that as the VM system.
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Author Closing Comment

by:tips54
ID: 31465904
leew you are absolutely correct.
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21771159
It might not be the advice everyone wants to hear but unfortunately it is the truth. The reality is cruel. Not many business can afford to purchase new server every 3 years. Its not only the cost of purchasing the hardware, its also the cost of setting it up, configuring it, transferring all your data and make it work.

Big organisations with their own IT department will have no trouble doing so. Small businesses who don't have their own IT people will struggle. Costs of IT expertise are not cheap - you might be talking about $100 an hour.

You might get extended warranty but it will still expire in some stage. Beside Extended warranty after the initial period don't come cheap.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 21771551
People don't need to buy the entire product and pay for it right away.  There are credit cards, leasing options, and financing options if the business can't afford the $5000-$7000 in total costs it might be.  On the other hand, there can be other benefits in upgrading every 3 years... including migrating to the new OS that can potentially increase productivity.  

Philosophically, every service should run on it's own server so that you don't interfere with another service if youo need to restart/perform maintenance on that server... but that's not realistic.  Replacing the server periodically and getting the warranty or VERY important for a business to be able to continue functioning and reduce the odds of a problem.  Saying you shouldn't care about the warranty is like saying you shouldn't care about putting in a good backup system. Ideally, YOU WILL NEVER NEED YOUR BACKUP SYSTEM... but if you do, it better be good or you will be looking for another job.  "Getting away with it" is not a good business practice, in my opinion.  I'll do it for short terms (like now - if you have a machine that is just off warranty or about to be, then NOW, I'll say chance it - until SBS 2008 is out... THEN get a new box and 2008 and put that system in place).
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21777395
I didn't say "I wouldn't CARE about warranty", I said "I wouldn't WORRY about warranty". What I meant was, I wouldn't let warranty to determine whether or not I need to purchase new computer equipment. Buy now and pay later options? What are the rates on credit cards?? If you are EXTREMELY lucky you may be able to find supplier with a 0% interest rate for X years on your purchase. But still, its NOT only the cost of hardware it is also the costs of setup and configuration.

When you purchased a new car it usually comes with 1 year full warranty. After that you may be able to purchase extended warranty at a high price. The older the car the more difficult and expensive to get extended warranty and it will reach a point that no garage would provide anymore warranty. So what do you do? Buy another new car because its out of warranty? I would love to IF I can afford it.

Comparing hardware warranty to backup system is basically nonsense. We all know Backup is not only critical for disaster recovery, it also for the restoration of  anything which has been accidental changed/removed.

No offence LeeW - I am just expressing my opinion on the importance of "warranty".
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Author Comment

by:tips54
ID: 21797186
I feel as though I'm stuck, the server is out of warranty, low disk space (10gig left) and redundancy corrern.  But i would really prefer to purchase a new server with SBS2008. I think I will give it a couple more months and continue to make backup of the system state and hope for the best. although I do have another server Poweredge 2850 as a backup domain controller, If loose the main there goes email and users probably still wont be able to login.  
???
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21800821
If you have another DC your users should be able to login. Email will go out of windows unless Exchange is running on that second DC.
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by:tips54
ID: 21812175
I've read that Exchange needs to be running  on SBS server. I have you seen differently and does it work?
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21812256
No. Exchange runs on Windows Server. SBS uses Windows 200x server as its base OS and Microsoft has put Exchange as part of the package.
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Author Comment

by:tips54
ID: 21855766
From what I understand b/c of licensing exchange has to run on the small businness server.
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by:ormerodrutter
ID: 21855839
You don't understand me.

SBS is a "complete" package for small business that includes Exchange. The licence and CALs (user licences) you obtain for SBS covers the usage of Exchange on your SBS.

If you want to provide redundency or fault tolorance you can build a second Exchange server that runs on normal W2K3 server (NOT SBS), so in this case you can 2 exchange server running simultenously. However you need to buy Exchange server itself and separate Exchange CALs for your users. You don't need to buy any W2K3 CALs as your SBS CALs cover usage of any other W2K3 server in your network.

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