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How do I design a Storage solution for my small business?

Posted on 2011-02-16
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Hello Experts,

I need to recreate our storage/backup plan.  We have an sbs2003 domain controller running Exchange, Backup exec, bbs, storing user project folders on local data drive that is separate than the system drive, and is the dhcp server.  This domain controller is running an Intel Xeon 3.00GHz and has 3 GB of ram, 40GB system drive, 100GB data drive(both HDD are filling up) .  We also have sbs2003 on an application/file server for the software that 20 users in the office use daily.  The application server has a xeon 1.86GHz 2GB of ram 200GB HDD(half way filled up from application data increasing) and basically shares all of the company application data.  This is the most important information on the network.  Neither one of these servers have redundancy so this must be addressed in the solution.

 I also need to back up this data.  Currently, are backup plan is not sound.  We have one tape drive on the domain controller and need to backup  15 exchange mailboxes and all personal user files and all application data.  Currently this is being split into 2 jobs and is a hassle to change tapes.  

I feel like the domain controller is being beat on too much and currently if it goes down, the whole network goes down because nobody gets IP addresses from the dhcp server.  Also, would it be wise to migrate to sbs2011?
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Question by:tkdwarrior
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by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34911537
no thoughts on this?
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Rob Williams earned 500 total points
ID: 34911699
Firstly a fail-over server for SBS is really not an option, and yes if the server is down you loose DHCP, but leases are usually good for a week, it is DNS that is critical. You can have a second DC to allow for logons and DNS, and thus internet access, but that can have different issues. In reality if your server is down and you have no E-mail or access to files, I personally see little benefit in having Internet access.

Best bet is a solid, tested, disaster recovery plan.

Personally I would recommend moving to SBS 2011. The default uses easily swappable external USB drives which can backup much more and the new recovery process is very slick. For faster restores and more flexibility 3rd party backup solutions like http://www.storagecraft.com/shadow_protect_SBS.php allow you to boot the backup on another machine, restore to different hardware, or to a different machine as a VM.

SBS can very easily handle 20 users, assuming you have hardware that comfortably meets the recommended (not minimum) requirements. You could add a second application server without a problem, but might be overkill.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34911788
how should i move forward in terms of adding capacity to my domain controller with redundant hard drives without breaking anything(exchange, dns, etc) in the process?
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34911811
i have the specs of my 2 servers i need backed up in the first post.  i need to add more capacity(redundant so if one hard drive fails, everything isn't lost) and make sure the important things are backed up.  i am also open to any other solutions anyone has to share.  just looking to do the most efficient thing here.
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34911887
My suggestion was to move to SBS 2011 with new drives and better restore options.

However, with your existing SBS you could add drives, or copy all data from the data drive to a temporary external device, replace the drive with something larger, preferably in a RAID configuration, copy the data back, and then move folders such as Users and Exchange from the C:/System partition to the data drive to free up room on it.

As for the application server if it is 1/2 full it should be fine for now, but plan to upgrade the servers. 2003 is now 9 years old. Personally I wouldn't put any money into an old server. You could also add 1 GB of RAM to the SBS for better performance.

Then you need to look at backup solutions. Something like Storagecraft/Shadow protect mentioned earlier, would allow you to back up to a solution like USB drives or you could add a NAS device, but more importantly if the server fails due to hardware you can restore it to a different physical or virtual server.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34911947
currently, the Exchsrvr folder containing priv1.edb is on the data drive of the domain controller.  i am assuming taking that drive out would cause problems with exchange since the database is located there.  thoughts?
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34911973
It would have to be temporarily moved to an external drive. The server would have to be offline anyway while replacing the drive.
Do you have a backup MX service to "catch" e-mail anytime the server is down?

What is taking up all of the space on the system partition? If all data is removed 20GB is usually enough. Changing the System partition drive can be a much bigger task.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34911980
and also for the application server.... shouldn't i make that data redundant as well?  there is just one physical drive on that server so it contains c:\system and all our important application data on one drive.
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34912034
All of the drives should be in RAID configurations. If they are not, there probably is no RAID controller. Adding a RAID controller and SAS drives to an old server is just not practical. You could invest a lot of time and money and have a motherboard failure the next day. Storagecraft (second license) would also let you create full backups of the application server and provide disaster recover options.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34912058
i do not have a backup mx service.

my system disc folders are as follows:  CAPACITY = 35.2GB

WINDOWS = 8.77GB
PROGRAM FILES = 6.7gb
DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS = 4.1GB

free space is 8.8GB.  i think i will be good on the system drive... there are a few things i can get rid of obviously between probrams and doc and settings.  

How do i change where exhcnage looks for the priv1.edb just in case it isn't the same exact place when i install a larger disk?
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34912105
I am afraid shadowprotect is out of the budget.  We already have a license for backup exec.  what is shadowprotect able to do that backup exec cant?
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34912106
You can add a backup MX service for less than $30 a year. That will 'catch' all mail if your server is off-line and forward it when it is back on-line, to a maximum of 7 days.
http://www.no-ip.com/services/managed_mail/backup_mail.html

As for Exchange, the following document outlines how to move folders and databases specifically on SBS 2003. Exchange information is near the bottom.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc708031(WS.10).aspx
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34912126
Backup Exec, unless you have the following version only allows full restore to the same hardware.
http://www.symantec.com/business/backup-exec-system-recovery-windows-small-business-server-edition
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34912136
I will be offline for 1-2 hours but will checkback then if you have any other questions.
--Rob
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by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34912399
so the backup exec version you specified will make up for not having my disks in a RAID setup?  I can simply backup the whole system to a thumb drive and restore it on different hardware to my understanding.  I would then need 2 licenses for that for my domain controller and the application server?  I'm trying to think from a cost effective perspective if paying $800/year for data backup.  what kind of thumb drive rotation would there be since all the data would still be onsite?
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Expert Comment

by:connectex
ID: 34912511
In my opinion every production server should have a RAID controller and be using RAID 1 (mirroring) or RAID 5 (stripping) or better. All storage will fail. It's only a matter of when. The costs of a RAID controller and hard drive(s) is minor in comparsion the to potential revenue lost by having the employee twittering their thumbs. Also if you lost yout SBS server, DNS and DHCP whould be minor. You'd lose Active Directory and would not be able to validate users on your network. I would consider making your second server a domain controller.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34912550
if i make the other server an additional domain controller, should i copy the domain over the network?  seems pretty straight forward. any tips?
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Expert Comment

by:connectex
ID: 34912635
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by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34912655
do those instructions work for small business server?
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Expert Comment

by:connectex
ID: 34912664
You'll be installing the additional domain controller on your second Windows 2003 server. Weather the first server is SBS or not is not relavent.
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34912933
I never mentioned a "thumb drive" I am talking about a minimum, of 500GB USB drives. Also I agree with connectex that you should have RAID on a server regardless.
It sounds like the original servers were drastically under-designed. Again why I was suggesting you move on to new servers and new hardware.

SBS backup Exec or Shadow protect is not meant as a replacement for RAID, but rather a good back up and disaster recovery solution. Currently if a system drive dies you have to rebuild the server from scratch, recreate accounts, copy data back, and likely be offline for 3 days.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34912957
what about taking a ghost image of the system drive every night and storing that image somewhere remotely?  then if the system drive dies, i can simply buy another HDD and use that image so i wont lose, DC, DNS, exchange for an extended period.
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34913054
Ghost is a good idea, but again means you are relying on all the same hardware. Also standard versions of Ghost will not work with a server O/S you need the server version which is also $600 and does not allow restores to different hardware. Acronis offers a server version again for $600 but you can buy an add on for <$200 that allows restoring to different hardware.

Unfortunately there are no cheap solutions.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34913111
well after checking the system information on my servers.  The application server has a dell sas 6/ir integrated controller.  The master domain controller has a DELL PERC 4e/Di RAID Controller.  this means i can buy some hard drives and set up RAID on both?
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34913186
Definitely yes, but doing the system drives means using software that will do a full back up and restore. SBS backup will do that, as will Backup Exec, so long as your media will backup the entire system.

However, those RAID controllers require SCSI drives which will average at least $300 each and where you need at e least 6 drives for just RAID 1 (2 SBS system, 2 SBS data, 2 Application server), is it worth putting $2000 into equipment that has no warranty and could fail at any time? If you were to buy a new server you likely could not even use those drives as a newer server would use SAS drives.

A better investment would be a substantial new server on which you could run Hyper-V, and clone both of the existing servers to run as virtual machines with additional disk space. Down the road that hardware would support moving to newer operating systems and licensing as budget allows. Keep in mind however, if you have OEM  server operating systems they cannot be moved to new hardware.
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by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34913243
what kind of substantial server are you talking about?  whats the easiest way to check if i have oem version?
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34913277
Buy substantial server I mean one that has enough processing power, RAM and hard drive space to support a Virtual host , SBS and an application server. With SBS 2011 and the others that would likely mean dual processors, and at least 24GB of RAM. All new servers also require the hardware be 64 bit.

OEM licensed servers usually have a sticker with the CD on the side of the box. The operating system is supplied by the vendor with the hardware and it cannot be transfered to new hardware. I believe most keys have OEM within them, at east on 2003 and older versions, or as Microsoft states:

Q: When I purchase OEM Windows from a reseller, what should I receive?
A:
Genuine OEM Windows desktop operating system software is designed exclusively for computer manufacturers to pre-install on their computers. Genuine OEM software always comes with a Certificate of Authenticity (the OEM COA is different from an orange retail proof of license label) and a manual or Quick Start guide. Some major manufacturers provide an OEM disc for re-installing programs, while smaller manufacturers are required to provide a Microsoft Windows edge-to-edge hologram disc. OEM software cannot be downloaded and may not be unbundled or re-bundled from sources other than the OEM selling you the computer. Visit our Counterfeit Gallery for more information.
from:  http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell/content.aspx?displaylang=en&pg=faq
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34913305
I will have to check to see if we have OEM or not... i would imagine so.  Let's assume that we don't have OEM and we can transfer to new hardware.  How much would a server such as the one you described?  and how difficult/costly is it to clone the 2 servers and run them as VM's?

If I do have OEM, what would be the best way to move forward?  basically if that system drive died right now, they company would be in a mess.
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34913326
The server I described with the appropriate raid controllers, backplane and power supplies would probably run close to $10,000

Cloning the O/S to a virtual machine is relatively easy. Both Microsoft and VMWare provide small, simple, free, tools for doing so.

If you have OEM, old hardware, and no warranty, if anything other than a hard drive fails with your current system, the only option is to order a new server, new operating system, rebuild the domain and applications from scratch, and restore your data from backup. I appreciate there are substantial costs in doing so, but the best investment would be new hardware, with larger drives, and a new operating system. You can then do a migration from SBS 2003 to SBS 2011, which is not a simple task, but works well, and continue on. If you buy a migration kit for $200 from www.swingmigration.com you could likely do the migration with no downtime, at a leisurely pace.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34913434
what specs do you recommend for the server if i migrate to 2011?   the 10k one?  i really dont see this being an option with this company's budget right now.
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34913457
I am not a "hardware guy", so I really would not want to provide specifics for hardware design specifications. I usually approach a knowledgeable local HP dealer to spec servers for me. Lots of others here however are very brilliant when it comes to details such as best RAID controller, disk configurations, and such.
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Author Comment

by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34919754
would something cheap/simple like this work?
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by:tkdwarrior
ID: 34919758
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 34919928
The difficulty here is you have not decided what you want to do and are looking for multiple inexpensive answers to all options. It is hard to address all issues/questions.

That device could be used for your backup if you are running out of tape drive space, but keep in mind all data would reside on one site. In the event of a fire or theft you are in serious trouble.
It could also be used as external storage for all data but keep in mind it is doubtful a $199 device is a reasonable replacement for proper internal RAID with SCSI drives, or a true NAS storage unit.
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Expert Comment

by:t0dd_sw
ID: 34920597
You can get a new, good, warrantied, redundant physical server to run sbs  for about $5.5k, with preinstalled sbs 2008 and 15 cal's.

 I can sell you a solution to your backup and spare hardware issues that will run you ~$350 or so a month and it will replicate your server in the event of failure (old one or new if you go that route) and give you failover hardware and bare metal recovery too. You can largely replicate this yourself w/ storagecraft and buy another box to write the backup to, then manage the backup and troubleshoot the issues, rent some offsite storage to archive the data, etc... but then you've spent some bucks on hardware and software to make it happen and have no help if you need to recover the data.

To have a robust, reliable backup AND recovery strategy, cheap is never the best answer. Backup is cheap, recovery (reliable) is the expensive part.
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