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Need Application server advice

Posted on 2009-07-07
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Hi,

I'm a programmer with little sys admin experience. I need to order and install a server for an application that I am developing in sql server and am not sure ow to pick out the needed hardware.

Here are some of the facts of the current needs:
- The application is a vb.net app built with Visual Studio 2005. It is mainly a reporting system that inserts and queries data from SQL Server 2005. I am leveraging the SQL Server Reporting Services module for my reports.
- The dataset will eventually grow to about 1TB, over time.
- I want the server to sit on an existing small network. The user wants the system to sit off of a simple switch. We are not looking to setup a raid solution, but simply back up the data on a regular basis onto either a local disk or a remote disk (looking to keep costs low).
- There will only be a few users of this app. It would be nice if they could access the system a the same time.
- I would also like remote access to this server from home. Currently the system is connected to the internet via a cable modem to Optimum Online (Cablevision). I believe the user can already access his network online, but I'm not sure.
- As far as software in concerned, I will certainly need a copy of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005. I'm not sure what else I will need.
- We will also be pulling in many datafiles that will be accessible either via ftp, email or webservices. This is already done today on the existing network, we will just house the data on this new server.
- I'm confused about whether I should order a souped up pc, or "server". We are planning to order the hardware from Dell. If we order a pc, I would probably stick with XP. I don't know anything about Windows Server OS.
- I was looking at a Dell Power Edge. The details of the quote are attached.

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
John
Dell-Server---JR.pdf
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Question by:jrattinger
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Accepted Solution

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mmcsadmin earned 500 total points
ID: 24795152
You would need 2 x Quad Core Intel CPU to run SQL server 2005.  Better for redundancy.
I would suggest getting 2003 Server preinstalled along with SQL Server.  Standard Edition for less than 5 users, Enterprise for larger.  So you will need to get Windows Server license also and SQL svr 2005 license.  
Ger PERC controller card.  Put OS on Primary drive Raid1 and put SQL db on secondary RAID5 (3 drive min).  Put OS on 1st integrated controller. and put data on 2nd Perc controllre.  
Get two netowork cards and bind them together for teaming for failover and redundancy.
Let the vendor build it for you.  It may take few weeks as a custom order but Dell will do it.

I just got very similar but IBM server.  Also SQL2005 Std with 5 licenses and 64-bit OS.

Good luck.
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Expert Comment

by:Rowley
ID: 24795312
Being the software architect, you'll know what cpu/mem requirements are per client/connection/type of call for your app so can't help you with sizing there.

Do you know what IOPS you're going to need to be able to handle? It sounds like a small operation, but if you're expecting to pummel the server with i/o requests you're going to be talking a lot to your storage. Most sizing problems I have seen have been down to the IO subsystem, so get this right. Definitely mirror your boot disks and consider separating your data on different disks.

If you're compiling reports then you're going to be limited by the speed at which your db can deal with your requests, and if you want to archive reports then you'll need to protect this with a RAID set, consider raid5. Ultimately, it depends what the impact of downtime is. If you can wait a week to have the server up and running, by all means skimp on the cost.

With regards to souped-up pc vs server, yes, you may get a substantially better spec system on the face of it with pc components, but server architectures are designed primarily with stability, redundancy and raw speed in mind, without the unnecessary bells and whistles. A decent spec PowerEdge SC shouldn't cost more than a couple of grand.

hth.
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Author Comment

by:jrattinger
ID: 24795948
Thanks for the quick responses...

I did leave out one fact about this system. It is not time or mission critical. If it is slow to run reports, that's ok. It would probably be ok to be down for a day or two in the case of an emergency.

I have some questions to your responses:

mmcsadmin:
- why do you recommend the 2 quad core controllers? I am running sql server on my dev machine just fine with one quad core controller. Is is just for redundancy?
- in regards to the PERC controller and raid, can one controller do everything, or do I need two? Would you even consider running without raid. I'm trying to keep costs down, but within reason.

Rowley:
- I will not hammer the server, so I'm not to concerned about io speed.
- the power edge was a little pricier than expected. the quote I have is for $2800 and that doesn't include raid, or server licenses.

thanks,
John
0
How to run any project with ease

Manage projects of all sizes how you want. Great for personal to-do lists, project milestones, team priorities and launch plans.
- Combine task lists, docs, spreadsheets, and chat in one
- View and edit from mobile/offline
- Cut down on emails

 

Expert Comment

by:mmcsadmin
ID: 24798004
Looks like this is still a development stage.  You can minimize to one single CPU if its not going to hit by multiple users and sounds like a downtime is not an issue to you.  Yes, one controller can do it, but again, if you don't care about the performance and stability you can you even do it on your laptop.

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Author Comment

by:jrattinger
ID: 24804279
I've put a little more thought into this, gone through these comments in more detail, spoke with the user and have spoken to and received a quote from Dell.

Here's the latest:

- One other point I left out was that we will use this server as a file server for out date files (csv's and excel spread sheets) to be accesses by a few users on the network. These csv files will be large (sometimes greater than 100,000 lines with 250 columns. The users will often open these files in Excel 2008 and manipulate data. So one important requirement would be that files should load quickly into Excel and data manipulation in Excel should be quick.

- As far as raid is concerned, raid 5 seems to be a good solution for the database data. I want to vet out If we went without a raid solution and put the data on a large disk. Not being a SqlServer pro, is it easy to backup the database on a regular basis (daily or weekly) such that if the disk hold the database crashed, I could recover with my backups? Data in the database will be inserted on a weekly basis for the most part, and reloading would not be a big deal.

- In regards to hard drives, Dell is pushing for us to buy 15k SCSI disks instead of 7.2k SATA's. They claim that the faster disks are really needed for Sql Server. I'm not sure I buy this... Also, in the quote they gave us, they gave us a big discount on the SCSI's vs the SATA's, claiming there is more margin to play with.

- I also am looking at 2 processors instead of one, but not sure if this is really necesary (E5520 Xeon Processor, 2.26GHz 8M Cache, 5.86 GT/s QPI, TurboHT).

- I would also be interested in looking at other vendors - perhap IBM. Any suggestions here would be helpful. Obviously, I'm not a sys admin and want a relatively turn key solution. I don't want to spend much time fixing or tweaking, once in place.

So below for the 2 quotes I have recieved. The first is with 3 SCSI drives and a redundant power supply, the other is with 3 SATA drives and no redundant power supply.

Thanks!!!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Item Number       Quantity       Item Description             

224-6305       1       PowerEdge T410 Chassis with upto 6 Cabled Hard Drives and Quad-Pack LED Diagnostics             
317-1403              1       8GB Memory (4x2GB), 1066MHz Dual Ranked RDIMMs for 2 Processor             
317-1206              1       E5520 Xeon Processor, 2.26GHz 8M Cache, 5.86 GT/s QPI, TurboHT             
317-1218              1       E5520 Xeon Processor, 2.26GHz 8M Cache, 5.86 GT/s QPI, TurboHT             
317-1300              1       PowerEdge T410 Heat Sync for 2Processors             
341-4158              1       HD Multi-Select             
468-3165       1       Windows Server 2008, Standard x64, Incl Hyper-V, Incl 5 CALs             
903-1279       1       Dell Education Services- MS6319 Configuring Hyper V in Windows Server 2008 online training SMBB 1yr             
313-7919       1       Baseboard Management Controller             
313-7842       1       Optical Cable T410             
313-6765       1       DVD-ROM, SATA, Internal             
330-4150       1       Electronic System Documentation and OpenManage DVD Kit             
341-9227       1       Add-in PERC6/i (SATA/SAS Controller) supporting 3-6 Hard Drives - RAID 5             
330-4146       1       Power Supply, Redundant, 580W             
994-6517       1       Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Plus On Site Service Initial Year             
994-5938       1       Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Extended Year             
993-7242       1       Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, 2Year Extended             
994-2400       1       Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, Initial Year             
993-7312       1       ProSupport for End Users: 7x24 HW / SW Tech Support and Assistance for End Users, 3 Year             
989-3439       1       Thank you choosing Dell ProSupport. For tech support, visit http://support.dell.com/ProSupport or call 1-800-945-3355
      
900-9997       1       On-Site Installation Declined             
341-6882       1       450GB 15K RPM Serial-Attach SCSI 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive             
341-6882       1       450GB 15K RPM Serial-Attach SCSI 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive             
341-6882       1       450GB 15K RPM Serial-Attach SCSI 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive             
310-8509       1       Power Cord, NEMA 5-15P to C14,15 amp, wall plug, 10 feet / 3 meter             
*             -DISCOUNT/COUPON APPLIED             
      
Subtotal:       $4,460.00
Shipping & Handling:       $35.00
Tax:       $387.70
Environmental Disposal Fee:       $0.00

Total Price w/Discounts:       $4,882.70
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Item Number       Quantity       Item Description             


224-6305       1       PowerEdge T410 Chassis with upto 6 Cabled Hard Drives and Quad-Pack LED Diagnostics             
317-1403       1       8GB Memory (4x2GB), 1066MHz Dual Ranked RDIMMs for 2 Processor             
317-1206       1       E5520 Xeon Processor, 2.26GHz 8M Cache, 5.86 GT/s QPI, TurboHT             
317-1218       1       E5520 Xeon Processor, 2.26GHz 8M Cache, 5.86 GT/s QPI, TurboHT             
317-1300       1       PowerEdge T410 Heat Sync for 2Processors             
341-4158       1       HD Multi-Select             
468-3165       1       Windows Server 2008, Standard x64, Incl Hyper-V, Incl 5 CALs             
903-1279       1       Dell Education Services- MS6319 Configuring Hyper V in Windows Server 2008 online training SMBB 1yr             
313-7919       1       Baseboard Management Controller             
313-7842       1       Optical Cable T410             
313-6765       1       DVD-ROM, SATA, Internal             
330-4150       1       Electronic System Documentation and OpenManage DVD Kit             
341-9227       1       Add-in PERC6/i (SATA/SAS Controller) supporting 3-6 Hard Drives - RAID 5             
330-4147       1       Power Supply, Non-Redundant 525W             
994-6517       1       Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Plus On Site Service Initial Year             
994-5938       1       Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Extended Year             
993-7242       1       Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, 2Year Extended             
994-2400       1       Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, Initial Year             
993-7312       1       ProSupport for End Users: 7x24 HW / SW Tech Support and Assistance for End Users, 3 Year             
989-3439       1       Thank you choosing Dell ProSupport. For tech support, visit http://support.dell.com/ProSupport or call 1-800-945-3355
      
900-9997       1       On-Site Installation Declined             
341-9247       1       500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive             
341-9247       1       500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive             
341-9247       1       500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive             
310-8509       1       Power Cord, NEMA 5-15P to C14,15 amp, wall plug, 10 feet / 3 meter             
*             -DISCOUNT/COUPON APPLIED             

Subtotal:       $3,704.00
Shipping & Handling:       $35.00
Tax:       $322.48
Environmental Disposal Fee:       $0.00

Total Price w/Discounts:       $4,061.48
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Rowley
ID: 24804642
Dell are pushing you to faster disks as this is most likely where your bottleneck is going to be for your purpose. SATA is fine for cheap storage, but the 7.2k's aren't going to give you much performance. Consider SATA for your backup drive, SCSI for the active data volumes.

Its much easier to add memory and cpu later, its more difficult to re-arrange your file systems. Dell/HP/IBM...they're all utility computers, much of a muchness. I've had good experience with dell support and call outs.
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Author Closing Comment

by:jrattinger
ID: 31600638
Expert provided some good comments on this wide subject
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- Cut down on emails

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