HP Server Recommendation (for Exchange 2007 and Windows 2008)

Hi all:
I am shopping for a server.
My 1st and 2nd server were mostly custom. Both times - people said, why didnt you just buy an HP?  
So I am shopping HP.

I would consider IBM, won't give Dell a dime of my (or my boss') money (not saying they don't make a good product, I wouldnt know, just not buying anything from them).  And those seem to be the "big 3" these days...so...

I was reading a post the other day: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Servers/Q_23292780.html

It talked up the ML370 as the way to go for a Tower HP - like the ML370 was the bottom of the beginning for any serious piece of hardware.  I would like to know how that info holds up 1 year later?  If you were shopping HP today - what would you be buying.  (If you are shopping elsewhere - I still would like to know.  I am not that close-minded - just focused in one direction at the moment, but I can be swayed)

I want a box that will run Exchange 2007 under Win2008 Standard.  
I doubt I will do much else with it.  

Budget IS a concern unfortunately.  Never used to be, but my boss has changed in the last year...whaddya gonna do?!??!

So, ideally I would like to go as slim as I could, but with room to grow, i.e. something with 1 Quad-Core for now, ability to add 2nd later.  Minimum of RAM to start with vs. ideal, etc.  you get the picture.  Over the next year I could slowly add RAM and CPU - smaller expenditures spread out over time easier than up front sticker-shock.

I am a small business.  Right now we are on Exchange 2003 running on Win2003 Enterprise.  

I am buying this box with the intention of upgrading.  And even if I dont make the jump to Exch07 now, I want the power to do it when ready.  I already have licenses for the software - its just a matter of being ready.

Usage: we have about 3 dozen active mailboxes, a dozen OWA users, but the bulk of our activity i think comes from use of Public Folders.  We have several Public Tasks Folders, we do all of our scheduling with a Public Calendar, and we have several public folders which are accessed constantly and serve as anything from posting back and forth for communication among users, to filing emails to track cases (we are in legal services and track and keep live emails sometimes for years).  

Sounds like peanuts compared to most posts I read about having 700 users, etc.  But right now I am one of those people plagued with pop-up windows about "problems connecting to exchange server"  and "connection to exchange server restored" all day long.  Plus - go ahead - frown, my exchange is on my DC, along with a ton of other stuff.  My server is overworked.  The usage may not always show it - but the performance does.  If you care to know more and havent read my other posts that describe my server and environment let me know.

If I can get what I want for a price my boss will swallow - awesome. Otherwise - I am going to play switcheroo - and take down my current backup server (Dual Quad 2.83, 8GB RAM - except my HD are not optimal for Exch - 7200 SATA) - wipe it, use it for 2008 & exchange07 (or 03 for now) and then buy an entry level box at a much more reasonable cost to the boss that will become the backup.

So, what would you buy?  My true budget is a tough ? There are good days and bad for asking the boss.  But once you tell me the minimum config you would start with and I can price that out - then I know where I can take it from there depending on how the wind blows.
mmoroccoAsked:
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coolsport00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
So mmorocco...are you asking recommendation on whether to place this app on your Exchg server? My recommnedation?...no. Symantec (I run that, too) in and of itself can cause enough problems (sometimes) with Exchg that you don't want to further cause undo administrative headaches by adding another wrench into the fray. :)  Keep your Exchg server clean if at all possible. MS recommends to not even have your Exchg server be a DC, so that should tell you something there. :)

And, if the ML350/370s are anything like the 150, I recommend not getting it, if you're wanting a more 'quieter' server. I have a ML150 (new...a few mos old) and it's not too quiet. I have the DL380 G5 for my Exchg server and, though it does make some noise of course, it is more quiet than the ML model I have.

Regards.
~coolsport00
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bcoyxpConnect With a Mentor Commented:
hi,

have you tried looking in to HP's bladesystem? c3000 would be good for your environment. lots of advantages you could get out of it.
such as:

space
power
cooling
cables
room for expansion and future upgrade - there is.

here's the link for c3000 and have a look at it's demo

http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/blades/components/enclosures/c-class/c3000/

you may have a look at it's servers and components.

http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/blades/components/c-class-components.html?psn=servers

though such setup may take a huge initial budget but the ROI would be of much bigger amount.

you'll save a room (literally), power and cable management ( since you dont have to spend more for cabling your servers), every components are plug and play.

in fact, our enterprise domain is gradually migrating to it. (we're going for c7000)

hope this gives you an idea.

Regards,
 

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Handy HolderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
ML370 is still a good box for Exchange due to the number of disks you can get in it, the G5 went to 16 disks, the G6 takes 24 SFF disks. You can use the 'HP sizing tool for Exchange 2007 but it doesn't work very well with smaller systems.

Using your values (I picked very heavy user since it doesn't work with public folders, 75 users) it spat out a ML350 G6, 8GB ram, 6*72GB 10K disks, E5502 CPU, about $4050 USD.

Whilst blades are very nice I wouldn't want one in an office environment, the c3000 tower enclosure isn't all that quiet.
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coolsport00Commented:
mmorocco...I am a med-size company (200+ users) and we have a HP Proliant DL380 G5. The cost is minimal. It's a single, quad-core CPU and we have 8GB RAM in it as well, and it works like a charm. It has 6 slots (or maybe 8...forget off hand) for disks so there's room for growth. I did test 2008 on it and it worked well (we currently run only 2K3 SP2 x64 w/Exchg 2K7 SP1). This model should be more than what you need, as well as provide room for growth.

Regards.
~coolsport00
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Handy HolderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
He says in another thread that the rack is in the office with people, that's why a tower server is better (although you can still rack it) because the bigger boxes are quieter.
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all thus far!

Yeah, if i could go back and do it all over and actually convert the part of the office where my rack is now into a tech closet/server room, i would be all over some sweet blade system!  But alas, tis not meant to be  - although i did learn a bit just reading through the site.

andyalder - was hoping to see your input as i believe you were in on that original post i read.  i must have missed the sizing tool.  i will give it a shot.  Would you say that there is a huge difference between the G5 and the new G6 - asnd if a big difference - is it worth the price?  Still $4k is better than i expected - so i can definitely work with that.

coolsport - THANK YOU - i am so happy to hear from someone with a comparable machine who can tell me they ae doing what i want and are happy with the results!  

While I am going for a Tower i believe without a doubt - it is nice  to know the product level suits the needs.

Am keeping this open with the hopes of hearing more - as the more I am learning the closer i am getting to springing the question on the boss.

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Handy HolderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
Here's a link to the sizer - http://h71019.www7.hp.com/activeanswers/Secure/483374-0-0-0-121.html (I think you need to create an account to download it but that's free).

There's a CPU boost with the new servers but exchange isn't that CPU hungry, 2007 likes RAM (2003 only uses 4GB server) and both like fast disks, the LFF may be cheaper but the SFF are faster and I doubt you need that much capacity so 36 or 72GB 15Ks should do, you might even format the Exchange data partition down to  a smaller size to keep the seeks short.
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
I found my way to the sizing tool though havent played with it yet - thx for the link.

So, pardon me for being dense - but it sounds like you are saying the G5 is fine, and that I could make  up the price difference by tweaking a little more RAM or getting the faster spindles.

I do like the energy efficiency of the new models - and if they ran quieter or cooler it would be worth it, but i am trying to spedn as wisely as possible here and if the G6 is just going to be replaced by a G7 next year with 1 or 2 new features etc etc - and the G5 is as tested and true as everyone says, then it may be the best bet for my money.

Thanks again...I am going to try and find some time today/tonight to play around with a couple configs and get some hard numbers and then will be back to see if anyone else has chimed in and/or get EE's opinions on my config and the prices I am being quoted.

I remember another part of that original post talking about reseller vs. direct from HP.  I will be starting with my reseller - and maybe trying to pay a couple of them off each other as I have at least 2 big HP shops i deal with - but at some point to satisfy my own curiosity I will inevitably call HP and give them my specs and see what they can do for me.

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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
There is one other piece of software I might like to use this box for.
Its called LAW Prediscovery - used to be made by Imagecap and is now owned by LexisNexis.  
http://law.lexisnexis.com/law-prediscovery/system-requirements
There is a SQL option to it - but only for enterprise size users.
In my use it is run off of Access.  And while I have worked in environments where we bombarded servers with this program, having 20 users hitting it with images all day long - my use would be one workstation doing some scanning and sending images to the server on and off throughout a day.  I may or may not even store the images on the same server.  Once processed they would most likely be exported to my main file server where my large storage is.

I dont see this hurting my Exchange performance if the ML350/370 properly configured will be as good as it should for my number of users.
However, this may not be necessary - as once Exchange is off of my other server it would free up plenty of resources for this app if putting it on the Exch box was not preferable or recommended.

Plus, i should mention that yes, I do use Symantec Corporate Edition right now for antivirus - but my antispam is handled by a Sonicwall Email Appliance and Sonicwall Firewall with CGSS.
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Handy HolderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
The 300 series aren't like the 100 series. The 100 series are badged clones, (or at least boutique built), they aren't real Proliants like the 300 and 500 series.

The dBA ratings are in the quickspecs, ml150 g5 36.9 dBA, ML350 g5 35 dBA, ML370 G5 43dBA DL380 G5 44dBA - note these are for a maxed out server so normally not quite as loud.
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
Re: Law Prediscovery - thx, and yes, you are right.  I will stick with my initial statement which is I will use the box for exchange and nothing else that does not go with or is not needed for a solid exchange install.  It will not be a DC (which right now the box it is on is my DC).
So that settles that.  Then it just leaves picking the right model, speccing it out properly and finding a nice price point to float past the boss.
I feel compelled to buy more than needed, or at least buy something that can grow - but without going overboard - so that's why I came to EE.

As to the noise point - I know that nothing is ideal - but any tower compared to my 1U right now will make the guys in my office so happy they will think they just got their hearing back!  I wasnt so smart a few years ago when i bought it or i would have thought twice.  Especially considering i also have 3 1U video capture/encoders in the same rack.  They only run we they are needed, but when all 4 are firing, its not a fun room to be in and try to concentrate, let alone answer the phone.
My backup server is a Tower - and when I first ran it for a while and heard how quiet compared to my 1U i said, ok - gotta go with a Tower for my next one until I get my own room/closet for all my stuff.
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bdesmondCommented:
The G6 is brand new - it will be the current model for at least a couple years I would expect. Go with it over a G5 - they will get retired soon.

You sound like a perfect candidate for SBS (Small Business Server). Have you considered this?

Get as much RAM as you can and get the disks to spread Exchange I/O out over. 4 - 6 in a RAID10 for everything would work well.

Thanks,
Brian Desmond
Active Directory MVP
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
I didnt think I sounded like a perfect candidate for anything other than a straight-jacket?!

Can you enlighten me a little more on SBS?  And even EBS if that is appropriate?  I thought these were generally lesser-grade versions of the full server - and so no, I never considered them.  I was lucky to inherit 2003 Enterprise with my first server, and have 2003 R2 on my backup.
And i currently have available to me for the taking from a reseller 2008 Standard and 2007 Exch - so i never considered looking at SBS - but do please tell me more.  It is a server OS that comes with Exchange or am i way off?
Arent there limitations of what you can do and what it comes with?

Pardon my ignorance, but i never had to "interview" other OSs - i either inherited them or got them as part of a package deal.
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
Sorry for the immediate follow-up - and yes, I know i cna find this out on the website - but as long as you are recommending I look into SBS - standard or premium?

I am doing my homework now on the 350 vs 370 and the G5 vs G6.  There certainly are a lot of options - especially in the 370 when you get into the performance models.
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bdesmondCommented:
Small Business Server is the full deal basically that's limited to a max of 75 users. If you get past that you have to buy up to EBS or the full server products. In general SBS is far cheaper than buying individual licenses for everything. You get Exchange, SharePoint, Windows Server 2008, etc on one box along with a bunch of tooling that integrates it all together and makes it really quite easy to manage.

Thanks,
Brian Desmond
Active Directory MVP
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
OK Brian, you threw me a curve here - b/c now I am really looking into the SBS route.
Will i have a pain trying to take make it my primary DC from my 2003 Enterprise which is primary DC now?
After doing so, I could still leave my other two boxes as DC's though if I am not mistaken.

But, forgive me for a minute - why is it NOT best practice to have Exchange on a box with your DC (which mine is and I have been told this dozens of times) and yet on SBS it is all together???  
Anyway - this may be a way to go - and I can use my existing licenses to upgrade my existing standard editions of software - as I will need a backup exchange running anyway.

Am I correct that you can buy SBS pre-loaded from names like IBM and HP?  Would any of you recommend that?  I know my way around 2003 Enterprise and R2 pretty well, but I am told that SBS is full of wizards which can make like easier sometimes, and not so easier others...comments?

Anyway - I am sorry I am totally off-track here...

I am going to be getting in touch with a couple resellers next week and pricing out configs of the HPs and even comparing them to comparable IBM models (which i dont know about but will be happy to learn).

If it suits you all ok - I will leave this question open until then while I do more homework on the preferred HP I would look at - I know I have a couple questions regarding the Storage Controller.

And two silly questions I want to ask - only because they often sound so dumb I feel like maybe they are worth asking because the dumbest things sometimes arent so dumb afterall:

I see that you can buy the ML350 for instance in a vertical or horizontal setup?  Is there anything more to this choice other than knowing whether or not you will ever NOT want it racked?  I assume you can buy it as a Tower with the Rack conversion kit, or if  you know it will be racked you can buy the horizontal box?  Or am I missing something here???

ILO - this is essentially like having what I call a Daughter Card or IPMI card?
I have one on my primary DC and it is one of the best investments I ever made.  
On my other server - I screwed myself - Intel has what is called a BMC - and I was under the impression that I would be getting the IPMI functionality I have in my other server - but my motherboard s5000xvn apparently does not allow for what I had hoped...
So, is ILO what i think it is?


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Handy HolderConnect With a Mentor Saggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
You are correct about the tower and rack versions, identical except for the mounting.

iLO gives you remote power button and console during boot, iLO advanced pack licence allows virtual media (use the CD in your PC to boot the server) and remote console after booting the OS.
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bdesmondConnect With a Mentor Commented:
There will be some migration work involved in getting on to SBS. They do all of the work to make thigs work with everything on one box.

ILO is what you're thinking of - pay for it and the advanced pack.

Thanks,
Brian Desmond
Active Directory MVP
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
Thanks both of you for the iLO info - yes, advanced pack definitely, I have learned the value of this type of equip.

And yes, as for the SBS, my interest is there - and I am researching it vs standalone pieces.  Because I already have the Windows and Exch licenses - but I could easily use those to upgrade one of my other boxes, and start with a nice clean SBS install on this new box.

Which brings me to a question - Exchange 07 doesn't come with outlook '07, correct?  So, they want you to buy some kind of open license agreement for outlook 2007 on top of exchange?  what do you do?  can you run outlook 2003 clients with exchange 2007?

And now back to the HP server:
I remember reading something about pros/cons of 1GB v 2GB sticks of RAM.
Is 1GB stick preferable over a 2GB, and if so, how come most of the configs on HP site always have 2GB sticks?  I assume it comes down to space and # of slots?  I doubt I would ever be working with more than 12GB-16GB of RAM, and that's pushin it - so which would you use - 1GB or 2GB?
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bdesmondCommented:
Yes Outlook 2003 works fine with Exchange 2007.

I'd just buy the 2GB sticks (or even 4GB sticks).

Thanks,
Brian Desmond
Active Directory MVP
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
Ok - promise I will stop asking other questions in this post and keep it to the HP server question.

I am playing with configs on HP site - and it is boggling the # of choices, so I will continue this post and do my homework on SBS and M$ products in other posts and post new questions elsewhere.  I will look for your opinions/recommendations there Brian.  Thanks thus far!
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
Hi all - have yet to connect with my reseller rep, he is out of the office unexpectedly.  Leaving this open for now in order to be able to com back with some questions based upon any config ideas we come up with.

thanks for your patience all.
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
OUCH!  Ok - so this one didnt fly too well - some business developments outside anyone's control led to a couple large clients/books of business disappearing...
So, while I am still continuing to work the leasing angle, before I even got through my configurations and my wish list and had any hard numbers to present, i knew, and was told, that there would be no new expenditures for the time being.
I am hoping that some good mojo will come along to counter-balance this, and that there may be hope for this yet.

So, I am closing this question for now and will hope to revisit it soon, at which point I will refresh the topic and throw up whatever config i am workin on.

i thank you all for giving me something to go on...

for now - i think i will just move forward for now with my plans in Question ID 24385399 - and playing around with Win2k8 and Exchange2007 in the virtual world and getting ready for when the day hopefully comes that i can go live on a new G6 (hopefully I wont be waiting for the G7..)
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
Thanks all - there were lots of good points throughout the thread - not one solution per se here - so i put the points wherever really just so long as you all get credit for chiming in and helping out...will see you all again hopefully soon when my budget gets back in line!
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