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small office server setup and installation

Posted on 2010-11-24
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hi,
We need to set up a server for our small office.
Form our provider we have received these question I need your help on:
- information about RAID (drives)
- how to separate disks
- the name of win domain + the name of the server (server1.domain.com)

-the name of the mail exchange domain
-list of the services needed for our email services (pop3, imap, ssl) so we can access our emails also form the outside of the office

We have a budget money for this server so as for now we are looking for a reasonable decent solution.
We already have some registered domains (wiith goDaddy).
Our provider is going to install all the routers and switches needed for the server to work. I know that they are gonna put in place a VPN service also.

Aside from those question listed above - can you think of any other requirements for this server configuration we may find useful?

Thank you.
J.
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Question by:janime
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by:rcasmer
ID: 34208707
You have a very good guideline for purchasing a server.  As far as budget goes I would check out a company called Round 2 Technology.  They sell used, but guaranteed servers, specifically from Dell.  Once you purchase the server you can get a warrantly from Dell.
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by:janime
ID: 34209635
Thank you, rcasmer. We already have our server (hardware). My question is more oriented to the set up and applications (as per my post above). What RAID would be sufficient for us?
Thanks.
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by:rcasmer
ID: 34209755
I would go with 4 drives.  Use the first two as a RAID 0 with the operation system and the second two as a RAID 1 with all of the applications.  I would use 500 Gb drives 10k RPM SAS.  Are you going to run Active Directory, DNS, DHCP and Exchange all on the same server.
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by:KevinTHayashi
KevinTHayashi earned 100 total points
ID: 34209867
I guess the configuration of your server would depend on a number of factors.  Can you post the specs of the server?

1. Are you talking about Hardware or Software RAID?
2. How many hard drives do you have in the server? All the same size, speed, specification, etc?
3. What applications are you going to be running?
4. Is the server going to be an application server, or file server?
5. What Software applications are you installing on the server? (Windows 2008, Exchange 2007, 2010,...?)

As you can see, there are many factors to weigh when deciding on HOW to configure a system, and providing as much detail as possible about your requirments would help determine that.

For a quick and dirty answer:

RAID 0: You would use this type of RAID configuration if you wanted performance and didnt really care too much about data integrity. Striping makes two physical drives look like one large drive to the system.  I really dont recommend this type of configuration for any application or file servers. Typically, you see this on workstations what have only two physical hard drives and want good read write perfomance and increased disk space.

RAID 1: You would use this type of RAID configuration for data redundancy.   The Drives are mirrored so you don’t get the performance of striping.  I usually recommend this type of configuration for server Operating Systems if you don’t have at least 3 physical drives.

RAID 5: This is the preferred configuration if you have a hardware RAID controller. This is where you get data striping and parity, although you will lose the physical space of one of the three drives.  For example, if you have three 1TB drives in a RAID 5 Configuration, you will effectively only have 2 TB of usable space.

Like I was saying though, you can use this as a guideline, but ultimately the best decision would be based on your real needs.
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by:KevinTHayashi
ID: 34209877
Other things to consider would be Backup of your data. I definatley would not go with a RAID 0 configuration if I had critical data on my server and/or was not performing full system backups on a daily basis.
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IntegrityOffice earned 250 total points
ID: 34209902
REgarding the server name, keep it simple, server1 active directory domain initials of company or fullnaem of company.local
Exchange will want to be your external email address for the domain or the same namespace as you chose for the .local address inside.

I would then use a godaddy ssl certificate and secure the email server open 443 on the firewall and you have your webmail setup and Outlook 2003 or newer clients can be configured to use this rather than pop and impa.

remember to set the DNS forwards to eb your ISP for fastest response times. Root hints are ok but add a delay and can sometimes be subject to DOS attacks.
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by:IntegrityOffice
ID: 34209916
If you have not already got Windows you should consider Microsoft Small Business Server supports up to 75 people.

Do not do RAID 0. I often set mine with 5 drives two for the OS mirrered and 3 RAID 5 for the data.

SBS server takes lots of the hard work out of cinfiguring itself and there are loads of wizards to do the tricky stuff.
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by:IntegrityOffice
IntegrityOffice earned 250 total points
ID: 34209920
MS 2008 SBS by defaultdoes not support tape drives and third party software is required. It however backs up to disks but it "claims" the whole disk and until such time as it is reformatted it could not be used as an external hard drive.

I trust you have an enterprise AV solution.
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by:rcasmer
rcasmer earned 50 total points
ID: 34212647
Speed is also a factor with RAID.  

A RAID 0 is the fastest thats why you install only your OS on this RAID.

Yes, a RAID 5 is more redundant than a RAID 1 but if everything is running on one server a RAID 5 is slower than a RAID 1.

Thats why I would suggest using a RAID 1 on the second RAID so you have the redundantcy plus speed if you are going to be running all of you AD, DHCP and mail on one server.
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by:D_Vante
D_Vante earned 100 total points
ID: 34213606
Only use RAID 0 if you are okay with downtime and restoring from a backup

Use RAID 1 for the OS and RAID 1+0 for the data
15k SAS drives for performance

using your company registered domain change the .com (or .org) to local for your office domain
Company.local
Use Company.com for your email

Name the server something short and descriptive without any special characters

Ask them to setup your mx records and spf as well


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by:D_Vante
ID: 34213618
Also setup your SSL for your email along with a certificate
setup pop and imap along with rules in the firewall but I would disable the rules unless they are needed
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Author Comment

by:janime
ID: 34233424
Sorry guys, I've been out of town for couple of days.

I found more details - unfortunately we only have this:
Lenovo TS100 (6434-13G)
Intel Xeon E3110 (6M Cache, 3.00 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB)
2x1 GB RAM (DDR2)
2x500 GB hot-swap (7200 RPM)

 Built-in RAID controller LSI Logic 1064 (probably RAID 0,1 only)?

And we plan to get Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard.

Yes, we will  also have to get that SSL certificate for our mail...

What do you think now?
Thanks.

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by:IntegrityOffice
ID: 34235223
You are really pushing the limits with this hardware. You really could do with more RAM. Remember if you re going to Exchange 2007 or 2010 you need 64bit Windows and a minimum RAM is in your system box for 2007 and you need to at least double it for 2010.

I would recommend as you have not mentioned exchange that you take a quick look on the MS site re exchange server.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996719(EXCHG.80).aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996719.aspx

Depending what apps you are planning on installaing, i tend to set a fairly small c drive 40 -60 GB and a larger data drive.

Remember to turn on volume shadow copy services for easy of resotring client files. ( remmebr to set sensible exchange mailbox quotas to make management and manipulation easier )
Do not use RAID 0.
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by:janime
ID: 34263139
Thank you guys. So we started with our installation. As fo the SSL certificate we are going to get it at Godaddy  - then where to install it? I assume it should be on our old dedicated web host server we have. There is also our main company.com domain hosted. Then we will just have to change the mx and spf records to outsource the email hosting to our local server company.local (here in our small office). Correct?
Thanks.
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Author Comment

by:janime
ID: 34264332
Integrity, to you reply:
"if you have not already got Windows you should consider Microsoft Small Business Server supports up to 75 people." Does this include Exchange (mail)? Thanks.
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by:IntegrityOffice
IntegrityOffice earned 250 total points
ID: 34265088
Yes it does.  It also includes some Sharepoint and loads of Wizards to help none experts get some of the best functionality without having to know too much.
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Author Comment

by:janime
ID: 34277275
Thank you, guys.
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