Domain vs workgroup performance when using UNC named resources

Have a new client.  We just installed a workhorse server 2008 (dual quad xeon) and 9 new Windows 7, i7 quad core workstations, and a new gigabit switch.  This system should be rocking, but we are not seeing expected performance.  The primary software uses UNC resource naming (\\server\path\file).

We have added server/IP to the hosts files and disabled SMB 2.0 (because there is one old XP workstation in the mix), but are still not happy with performance.  The expert on the primary software says converting to a domain will make HUGE speed performance improvements.

My question is, can Domain vs workgroup really provide major perfomrnce improvements?  What provides the gains (DNS?)?

Thanks,
Leon
leonvanAsked:
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B HCommented:
the server operating system handles the shares and the performance of it sharing files isn't going to be noticeably affected by making it a domain.

however - with a domain you can use offline files and folder redirection - people take copies of their stuff down to their local machine, and put it back when they're done.  that could be a good improvement.

but if everyone is accessing the same file on the server, that won't be able to be used offline or 'checked out' to their workstation.

so it really boils down to HOW are the workstations using the server... are they accessing the same file?  or is the application ran by a sql database or something else?

for management, it makes sense to use a domain.  for security too.  but for performance, it's not going to increase much
 
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leonvanAuthor Commented:
The primary application uses a C-Tree database for data storage (with record locking).  A large part of the functionality of the application is pointers to image files (in the database).  These pointers are UNC format.  Could having the local DNS running as part of the domain controller provide significant improvement?
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B HCommented:
once the workstation knows "server = ip-address" they're done with dns, so, no...

where does it get slow, when you do what?
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leonvanAuthor Commented:
Basically, any function in the software can be slow (e.g., pulling up a person's record, changing a scheduled appointment, generating a report, printing a report).  Since I don't know the inner workings of the software, I can't say what is going on behind the scenes.
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B HCommented:
that's purely a function of the database itself and not the connectivity between devices, or the processing power of the workstations.

how does the memory on the server look, is it running wild?  how about the cpu usage.  

if you're not overrunning the resources of the server, it's purely due to bad code on old software - maybe they can migrate you to a real database like SQL?
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leonvanAuthor Commented:
The server sees no load - 95 plus % idle, memory use is around 50%.  

No chance of getting a re-write for at least 2 to 3 years.
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B HCommented:
it seems that your way ahead of the game then, bottlenecked by your software vendors reluctance to improve their product
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leonvanAuthor Commented:
Well, the software vendor is telling us that going to a domain will speed things up dramatically.  Running as a domain adds process and overhead, so we are looking to validate the idea before we invest the time and effort into making the change.

Anyone else have any input?
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B HCommented:
for what it's worth - making this a domain isn't too hard, will be better in the long run, will not add much overhead to the resources... but will not make your database application any faster.

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ChiefITCommented:
Domain/Workgroup:

No real difference in networking but considerable differences in IT security, management, a number of other things.

UNC paths are not really effected. Same with internal DNS servers.

You currently have a hung application taking up your server's CPU.

So, you have multiple issues here, none related to DNS or Netbios, or UNC paths that I can see.

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