How much computing power does my server need?

Posted on 2010-01-09
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I have a workgroup of about 6-8 machines and we are trying to migrate to a server client environment. I want to make the change so it is easier to administrate all the machines and we are opening a small branch and I think this set-up will work better with the vpn. I am wondering what kind of processor power and ram would be sufficient for 6-8 users to be working off the server and have good performance. For example, one machine I am looking at has a Quad Core Intel Xeon E5405, 2x6MB Cache, 2.0GHz, 1333MHz FSB, and 2 gb ram. (I could probably updgrade the ram if that is suggested for this many users)
I am gunshy to buy anything because I want to make sure that I am confident the new server will be able to handle the workload before we make any purchases.
Question by:pat_the_bat
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Expert Comment

ID: 26274536
Need a little more information about the server application you are going to be running.  Are you looking to move to an Active Directory enviroment?  If so, there are other things to consider, the most expensive of course is properly licensing the software.  Also, if you are implementing a Windows Active Directory enviroment, you should consider two servers.  Or if you have enough money and want to get a head start on infrastructure planning, consider deployment of the new server on a Virtual platform.    

Expert Comment

ID: 26274542
If all it will be is an AD controller and some storage area for the 8 workstations you wont need much. Are you going to be running SQL or other server apps that the clients will access?

Author Comment

ID: 26274630
Licensing is a good point. Any articles you could suggest on that?

This will be ad controller and storage area for the workstations. We use Act which is a database software that does rely on SQL. Calyx Point is the other database app we use. Beyond that it's ms office and the full version of ADOBE. (My adobe is an oem disc. Will that be a licensing problem on the server I am building?)
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LVL 11

Accepted Solution

gmbaxter earned 1200 total points
ID: 26275693
I think a single server solution would suffice for this situation. You could always add another server if the organisation grows by a lot.

I guess that Adobe and MS office are client computer applications, if you have licences for those then thats fine. What drawlin was getting at is not only do you require a server operation system liscence, you also need Client Access Licenses (one for each concurrent connection to the server).

I would reccommend a server that can accomodate 2 processors - you could buy it with 1, and upgrade to 2 if you require in the future. Minimum 8GB Ram for server 2008, especially as you will be running a lot of services on one box, Hardware RAID controller with battery backed write cache.

Don't forget to think about backups - tape solutions can be expensive,  a 1 or 2 TB external drive swapped daily or weekly may do the job.

Expert Comment

ID: 26278336
When it comes to licensing, OEM software dies with the computer that it was purchased on.  If this small network is for a small or new business, I know from experience that IT budgets are tight.  That being said; as soon as you instal Active Directory and put a sever in the enviroment there is going to be an increased demand to use IT solutions as you grow.

If you only instal a single server that does everything then what you will be fighting in the future is:  If there's a problem with AD, your users can't access ACT and they can't print, and they can't email.  If there is a problem with ACT, your users can't log into AD and they can't print and they can't email or access their shared folders.

I strongly believe that you should seperate your server roles to different servers, this way if you perform maintenance on a server, only that role is unavailable and users can still perform other functions.  If I were in your shoes and had the money (financing is always an option), I would start with a moderate server hardware like qmbaxter mentioned and use a free virtual server software like VMWare or Sun VirtualBox.  Purchase Windows server 2008 Enterprise with a 10 CAL pack Open Licenseing option.  (Don't buy an OEM OS with your server).  Licensing for Enterprise edition of Windows will allow you to load Windows server on your Server Box and 4 virtual windows servers hosted on that Box.

You can then have an AD domain controller, a file server, and application server with one license free for the next server that people request.

To echo qmbaxter, backups are a must.  If you need to get data offsite you can use a couple external hard drives.  Virtual server technology allows you to make clones of these servers that you can use as a baremetal restore solution.

Assisted Solution

drawlin earned 600 total points
ID: 26278385
Another thought.  Microsoft reccommends having two domain controllers (DC), and they recommend that at least one DC is a physical server.  If you use Sun VirtualBox as your virtual server platform, you can load Windows server Enterprise on your physical (Host) server and make it one of the DC's.  So it would look something like this:

Physical Server-  DC1 -Windows 2008 Ent
                                       -  Active Directory, DNS
                                       - Sun VirtualBox or Windows HyperV (HyperV cost money)
Virtual Server- DC2 - Windows 2008 Ent
                                        -Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, Printers


Expert Comment

ID: 26278393
whoops, posted before I was done.

Virtual Server- AP1-  Windows 2008 Ent
                                     - Act
Virtual Server - FS1-  Windows 2008 Ent
                                      - File shares

Assisted Solution

MrVoid earned 200 total points
ID: 26280226
Wow, for 6 to 8 machines? The machine you listed in your question would be ample for such an environment.

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