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New server, bang for buck!

Posted on 2010-01-05
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
First of all thanks for clicking on my question, I'd really appreciate it if you would help me by giving me advice.

To give your an image of where we need a server / network for:

* Maximizer CRM software (3 very active clients)
* QuoteWerks software (3 clients)
* Microsoft Exchange (6 very active clients)
* 2 x AXIS network cameras (~1-2 viewers)
* Financial software (1 client)
* 2 x QNAP


Now I'd probably think you'd start with a lightweight server built for small business, the problem is that we have a server at the moment that is built for small business. The current specifications are:

* Gigabit network (everything is gigabit, switches, clients, server and so on)
* Xeon 3050 2.13 GHz
* 4 GB Kingston RAM

We're constant having trouble with slow network (Q6600 + 4 GB client / E7400 + 2 GB client / E8600 + 4 GB client .. there's no slow hardware anywhere). This is probably because our server runs out of memory and the harddisks are being used as swap memory. After 2 weeks the memory goes above 4 GB until it becomes unusable, the clients become very slow, RDP refuses to work. The only solution is rebooting the server, which I do not accept as a solution.

You might say, why don't you upgrade the server memory? The motherboard* aswell as the installation (OS) is limited to 4 GB of memory.

* As far as I know

Now we have the following question, would you say the problem includes both network and server, only server or only network?

We have come to the following conclusions:

* Could it be the network?
* 10 Gbit is out of our leak and should not be necessary!
* Once we reboot the server, everything is very fast.
* In 1-2 weeks, we run out of memory on the server (nothing special, SQL for example for the CRM)
* The clients are powerfull enough

About the network, to be honest, we're not quite sure.

We decided first all to build a new server, based on these specifications:

* ASUS P6T SE
* Intel Core i7 860
* 3 x 4 GB (12 GB) Kingston memory
* RAID 5 with 4 Western Digital 24/7 HDD's
* Gigabit network card(s)
* RAID Controller

Now we know this is not server hardware, but we've used ASUS motherboards everywhere, they run perfectly 24/7, spending our money on quality hardware instead of server hardware we can get way more memory and speed for less money, we trust the system will definately be stable enough. All the computers we build for customers are rock solid and almost never return with failure.

So, should we build a new server that way? Questions? Idea? You're more than welcome!

Thanks for reading!
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Question by:Theun111
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19 Comments
 

Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26183821
The current server is an HP ProLiant ML310 G4, current harddisk setup is 2 x 250GB SAS in RAID 0.
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Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 26183903
I would purchase server hardware like a Dell. You get a overall warranty system for usually less price then building your own software.

Memory is limited to what OS you use as well since a 32-bit OS will only see 4 GB at the max. So, to get better speed and more memory I would consider a 64-bit install or running 2 different hardware servers.
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Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26183970
A server made by Dell is definately more expensive then a quality desktop, which will probably be good enough for us. We're planning to stick to that idea..
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LVL 59

Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 26183990
That is not totally true you can get a lower end server from Dell that will be better then the desktop.

What is your price range?
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Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 26184001
Also, are you going to use a 64-bit OS? If you aren't then the other 8 GB is for nothing.
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Expert Comment

by:NJComputerNetworks
ID: 26184131
The SC and T series of Dell servers are comparable in price to Desktop.  I would not consider building your own computer now a days...

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/dell-deals-servers?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd

http://www.dell.com/us/en/business/rec_server_networksol/fs.aspx?refid=rec_server_networksol&s=bsd&cs=04
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Expert Comment

by:NJComputerNetworks
ID: 26184162
Windows 2008 Standard 32 bit OS can only use 4GB of mem...  

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778(VS.85).aspx
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Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26184225
* We will purchase Win2k8 x64
* Our budget is not really specified
* The minimum amount of RAM is 8-12 GB
* Non of the links to dell systems (We like Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard more, but I do understand these are more expensive) have more than 4 GB memory
* Non of the systems are faster when using ~6 GB of memory than the Core i7 860 with 12 GB DDR3 + 2 x 250 GB SAS in RAID 0 + 4 x Western Digital 24/7 disks in RAID 5 and  8 GB of DDR3 memory I proposed in my startpost. Yes, I forgot to include the Western Digital 15.000 RPM SAS disks in my start post in the new system, we will be using them.
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Expert Comment

by:NJComputerNetworks
ID: 26184298
oh... you have to hit CUSTOMIZE ... to see the enhanced RAM and DISK and RAID and other options to add to the base system to make it comparable...


1-5-2010-3-38-14-PM.png
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Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26184401
That is why.. I think I should make clear my budget is around $1650,-.

If we want 12 GB, we can't afford a real server, if we want a real server, we can only afford 4 GB RAM which we already have..

Please guys stick to our idea and give your advice making that idea better.
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Assisted Solution

by:Feridun Kadir
Feridun Kadir earned 2000 total points
ID: 26185449
Just to confuse the situation further, why not consider adding a second server to your network and keep the existing one.

Your current server is running Exchange, SQL Server (for CRM) and is an Active Directory Domain Controller. I'm guessing that you have Small Business Server.  

My experience shows that Exchange and SQL Server on the one computer is not best practice. I would consider moving the SQL Server, CRM and all database applications to a second server and leave everything else on the current server.

If you are going to stick with a single server solution I would also examine your disks. I'm not a fan of RAID 5 - although the protection against a single failure is nice this comes at a price on write performance - especially for databases.  RAID 10 (striped mirrors) is my preferred option - say using 6 disks or even just RAID 1.

The other thing to note is that if you reboot your server eveything is fast - for a while. This suggests one or more processes are either buggy and have a memory leak or are gobbling up memory. Throwing new hardware at this may yield the same problem.

I hope this helps - though I suspect it just confuses the situation.


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Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26188227
Thanks for your reply feridun, we'll think about your idea.

But to stick to the topic, server with 4 GB vs quality desktop with 12 GB, how can the server be faster when using ~6-7 GB of memory?
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Expert Comment

by:BDL_IT
ID: 26188293
I agree with Feridun as well, to much on one machine..is the issue

Are you able to haggle for more money as a true server will help the cause
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Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26188392
I agree with Feridun too, I checked the server and the SQL databases are taking a lot of memory. It's a small business server.

I've never built a databases server, I usually configure SBS servers. Are there any specific requirements we should meet or consider for a database server? Any special rules? What do you recommend and how can we "calculate" what we need, the memory keeps increasing and after 1 week we run out of the 4 GB installed in the current server.

I just modified a few SQL databases so they can not use more than for example 300 MB. How does this affect the database? Will I notice any difference, for example problems?
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Accepted Solution

by:
Feridun Kadir earned 2000 total points
ID: 26188454
One of the things that SQL and Exchange do is to grab available memory and then release it back when other applications need it so it is quite hard to calculate what you need by looking at task manager.

With SQL, you can configure it to only use a set amouint of memory. This is a Server Property setting in SQL Management Studio. The database changes you made sound like a maximum disk size so that will have no effect on general performance with regard to memory. You probably should put the setting back to unlimited otherwise the databases will stop working when they reach 300M in size.




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Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26191405
Thank you for your latest comment Feridun!

I've decided to add a second server purely for database related software in our network.

The specifications are as following:

Brand: Fujitsu
Processor: Intel Xeon 5504
Memory: 8 GB DDR3
Storage: 2 x 73 GB SAS (OS) and 2 x 146 GB SAS (Storage), both in raid 1
OS: Windows Server 2k8 Std

Now I was wondering what everyones opinion is about that setup, any comments?

I also have another question which is very important to me, which MySQL server should I purchase for Windows Server 2008 Std? It has to be "quite" affordable, the budget I named before doesn't really make any sense, I was wrong.

Thank you!




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Assisted Solution

by:Feridun Kadir
Feridun Kadir earned 2000 total points
ID: 26191558
I don't know about MySQL but you will need Microsoft's SQL Server for CRM.
I believe that if you have SBS 2008 Premium (as opposed to SBS 2003) the SQL Server licence that you get with SBS is transferrable to a second server.
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Author Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 26192535
I made a typo! I ment Microsoft SQL!

Anyway I have made my decisions and you are definately the most helpfull person, thanks & have fun with the points!
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Author Closing Comment

by:Theun111
ID: 31673112
It helped me a lot
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