Need help ordering a new server

PurpleWine
PurpleWine used Ask the Experts™
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So I'm looking at a HP ProLiant DL160.  It will be running Exchange (03 for now)  and do File serving. There are a little over 100 users. The only other software that *might* migrate to it is Solomon with 5 users. My question is, what should I be looking at for Hard Drives?  I like 2.5" and I can figure out size, but only after I know how they will be configured. Which is what I am unsure of.

What is a good configuration?  Our currant server uses about 100gig.  That is up from 80 gigs over the last 1-2 years. So I would like a minimal of 300 usable gigs.

What RAID setup should I run?  Or should I just mirror a few TB drives cost being what it is...?

Oh, and if that wasn't clear, I need to know how many HDs are required for recommended setups.
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Commented:
So a friend called back and suggested this:

RAID 1 - OS  2 drives
RAID 5  DB's and files  3drives

while I was going to go with 72g 15k rpm for the OS
and 146g 10krpm for the storage...

He mentioned going 146g all accross so I would just need one backup drive on hand in case of a failure...  

How does this sound?

He said I could just go with a RAID 5, but I build my PC's with an OS drive plus an everything else drive. So I liked that idea...
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Commented:
RAID 1 - OS  2 drives
RAID 5  DB's and files  3drives
This sounds good. I would separate OS and data for case when RAID goes bad. Then you will be able to keep either OS or data intact. And backup, backup and backup.
This is a good office build and I would go 146 across the board if possible.  I agree with noxcho that it is essential you separate your OS from data storage, and you have your backup device(s) built into the intital server schema.
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DL-160 only has 4 LFF drive slots.  So, you could do
A. 3-drive RAID5 array with 1 hot spare
B. 4 drive RAID5 array with no hot spare
C. two RAID1 mirrors, with no hot spare

My choice would be C.  Two RAID1 mirrors with spare drives sitting ready.  This would give you the fastest file access.  As for space, sounds like your requirements are small, so 300GB drives for all would work.  The extra space on the OS-designated array can be used for admin-type storage like installers, ISO disk images, archived logs, etc.

If you have tons of RAM, using 15K rpm drives will probably not give you the boost as is traditionally thought.  I ran servers with 64MBand 96MB of RAM, so speed of the OS drive was important because of _constant_ swapping for virtual memory.  Moving from and IDE drive to 7.2K SCSI was great.  Moving up to an array with 10K rpm drives was a big boost in productivity when you're RIPping and re-sampling graphics files 24/7.  Today, pumping up the RAM is cheap.  You're not paying $1,500 for an 64MB upgrade.


If you go SFF on the DL-160, there are 8 slots available, so the variations are too numerous to expand upon.

My recommendation would be for RAID1 for the OS.  RAID10 (if available on the controller) for the data drive.  Again, your space requirements are low, so not necessary to utilize RAID5 for maximum storage space.

IIRC, the SFF drives are going to be physically slower (7.2K RPM), so RAID5 will show even more performance degradation with random writes...the nature of database/exchange tranactions.  RAID10 will give you some speed back, and give a different type of redundancy.

In a 6-disk RAID10 array (mirrored, then striping the mirrors), you can lose up to 3 disks, as long as they don't represent full pairs.  Downed drives will degrade read performance, since you no longer have two halves of a mirror to use...you are limited to the speed of one drive.

In a RAID5 array, you can lose 1 drive, then disaster.  Performance is severely degraded as each read requires checking/calculating the parity.
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Commented:
For 100 users a dual mirror is a must.
Although personally I would be looking for the next server up to increase capacity.

Basically to configure the system as I wrote here back in 2006. Nothing much as changed.
http://blog.sembee.co.uk/archive/2006/11/06/30.aspx

Don't bother with more than 2 gb of RAM. Exchange cannot use it and I have actually seen it cause problems.

Simon.

Author

Commented:
Thanks guys. Like I said, I got the call from a friend after I posted so that helped. Looks Like I will go with the server I posted, and:

2 150g RAID 1 for OS
4 or 5  150g RAID 5 for all else.
1 hot spare.

4 drives gives me 450g
5 drives gives me 600g

and the drives are 10k rpm. Not bad for 2.5"
Thanks for the help/confirmation.
Right about the RAM.  Sorry, didn't see '03 Exchange.  4GB is the max anyway, using the /3GB switch.  If you're custom configuring, don't fill up the slots with smaller RAM.  Install one module and leave the other slots open in case you change your mind and run Exchange 2007+.

See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/823440/  for the RAM limits.

With Exchange 2007 (64-bit only), it will consume much of the available RAM on the system for cache use.  This will reduce hits to a hard-disk based paging file, reduce I/O due from Exchange, leaving more disk I/O for other applications.

Microsoft recommends 2GB minimum for a single-role server.  4GB for multi-role, like hub transport + mail box store.  8GB + 2-5MB/user is the recommendation.  Max of 32GB per server.

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