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small office server

Looking at a server for very small office.  Trying to keep under 2k including tape backup.

 Ran across the Microsoft Windows Home Server which I had not heard about before and looked interesting.  After perusing info on it, it seem to be more of a high end NAS.  Was looking at the HP StorageWorks X500 Data Vault.  I think Dell might have one.

Looking for suggestions for a soho server.  Not ready to put in Linux yet as I am still learning it and it is not a good time to go to a server I am still learning.    Limited IT support for this so don't know we want to go with all the overhead associated with Microsoft Small Business Server.

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter.

Also, what would y'all recommend for a good, inexpensive firewall?
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jjackson2004
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jjackson2004
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6 Solutions
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I've heard rumor to the effect that Microsoft Server 2008 R2 Foundation has been discontinued at Dell... not sure, haven't bought one lately.

Home server is not a centralized account management system.

Here are your options (estimated licenses prices):

1. $300 - Server 2008 R2 Foundation Edition - limited to 15 users MAXIMUM - NO CALs, only available through OEMs preinstalled on servers.  It's essentially Windows Server 2008 R2 with a couple of limits that should not affect a small business.  There are no wizards, exchange is not included, and the SBS class Remote usage features are not there (VPN is, but Remote Web App is not).
2. $550-600 - Small Business Server 2011 Essentials - NOT RELEASED YET; DUE BY JULY - limited to 25 users. NO CALs needed, performs WORKSTATION backups like Home Server, does NOT include Exchange (designed to work with a cloud solution, but not strictly necessary).  Wizard Driven to make it EASIER to manage (good for limited IT support), I believe it includes Remote Web App.
3. $800-1000 - Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition - like Foundation, but no user limits - DOES require CALs (comes with 5).
4. $1000-1200 - Small Business Server 2011 Standard Edition - Limited to 75 users and users require CALs (comes with 5).  Only one SBS server per domain. Comes with Wizards that make management much easier for the non-IT person but has a more complicated install if you want it done right.  Comes with Exchange and if you don't plan to use Exchange, I DO NOT RECOMMEND.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Hardware wise, all of the above can run nicely on a Dell T110 server and you can keep the cost down to about $900 for hardware (including 4 GB of RAM, 250 GB mirrored hard drives, single multi-core CPU).

Question - WHY are you looking at TAPE backup?  If you have to backup and store for a long period of time OR if you have LOTS of data (MULTI-TB), then Tape makes sense.  Otherwise, it's a VERY expensive backup option and no version of 2008 (or later) supports tape natively, so you have to spend hundreds more on a backup product that supports tape for you (like BackupExec).

You should probably use external USB based hard drives.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
Head person wants backup that can be taken off site daily and also for long term.  Too much data for DVD, have been using a small form external hd, but it ran out of space, so now have to get larger pair (need pair so that one is always off site) .  I am adamantly opposed to backup over internet.  So tape makes most sense unless there is a similar more modern solution.  Multiple free or inexpensive tape software if not mistaken, so expense would seem to be tape drive.
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Juan OcasioApplication DeveloperCommented:
SBS 2008 might be a good choice for you.  It has a backup program which can backup to A USB device.  We use that on a Systemax server we got from Tigerdirect.  It's been working great for us for the past year.

HTH
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andyalderCommented:
A PC with Win7 or Vista or XP on it in a workgroup? If "very small" is about 5 users it would be easy enough to make local accounts and manually maintain passwords. So long as you use the onboard desktop/chipset RAID rather than use a high end controller, don't exceed about 30% utilization and backup every day that would be sufficient. It wouldn't be an application server of course since you can run the apps on your local PCs but it would do to store files on, especially as you're backing up every day. I'd go for the earliest revision of LTO that has enough capacity for your backup, you don't want a fast one since a PC's disks aren't fast enough for it; an unused older model would be best. LTO2 probably, maybe LTO3. Just don't let anyone save their photo album on "the company server".

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jjackson2004Author Commented:
Ordered a Systemax server from Tigerdirect (seemed like a good deal)  wednesday night (2 days ago).  promised to be shipped Thurs, paid for overnight shipping to get Friday.  It is now Friday night and it has still not shipped, but they did ship my extended warranty.  Go figure.

I am less than impressed with the company so far.

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jjackson2004Author Commented:
So back to seeking suggestions.  The one I ordered had specs

# Genuine Windows Server® Foundation 64-bit operating system
# Intel Core i5 650 3.2GHz Processor
# Intel Executive Series DQ57TM Motherboard
# 8GB DDR3 Memory
# 3x 500GB Hard Drives in RAID 5

and it was base price of $1,000.

Can't seem to find a dell solution with similar specs and anywhere near the price.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
What kind of prices did your Dell Rep give you on a T110?

I configured a T110 with RAID 1 using 2x1TB drives (same storage as you, more reliable/easier to recover than RAID 5), 8 GB of RAM, Foundation Edition, 24x7x365 Support with 4 hour on-site response, and a Xeon X3430 2.4 GHz CPU (score: 3716) - which scores FASTER than the i5 650 (score: 3160) based on www.cpubenchmark.net - for about $2100.  Your Systemax server, with a similar warranty, would be $1850.  And with the discount you'd likely get from a sales Rep - it would be cheaper.  AND likely better support/less likely to fail (EVERYTHING has a failure rate - in my opinion, Dells are very reliable.  It COULD fail, but likely won't.  Your odds of failure from Systemax, well, I don't use them, but they don't inspire confidence in me).

(Please tell me you CALLED Dell and got a quote - NEVER buy a Server, Optiplex, Latitude, or Workstation class system based on the price on the web site - I get 15-30% off that price speaking with a Dell rep).  Also, right now, your nearing Dell's end of quarter - so if you waited another 10 -14 days, you'd likely get the best possible price outside of January (end of year).
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
Dell server consultants were gone for the day last night.  The Systemax server with the extended 3 yr on site warranty was $1,333.00.  Dell people are suppose to call me today.  Looked at the hp ml110 g6 and it was comparable, but need to confer with their server people.

This was a time sensitive purchase.  For a small accounting firm whose current server is about to fail and they have a dead line of April 18 for tax returns and murphy says that their current server will die right before that.

Have had issues with Dell in the past with hardware reliability, but have had similar with HP as well.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Not sure what problems you have had with hardware reliability from Dell.  I've ordered nothing but Dell servers for all my clients for the past nearly 7 years and cannot recall a single incident of hardware failure EXCEPT 1 hard drive (which WILL fail) and one tape drive (which I haven't recommended in general for the last 10 years because Dell Tape Hardware fails about 80% of the time in the first 12 months, based on my experience).

If you only paid $334 then you didn't get the 4 hour response 7x24 support - this is a server - that's the only thing I recommend except in very rare cases.  If you knocked the support level down to something comparable on the Dell, it would likely have sufficed.

If the existing server is close to failure, I would setup a temporary system, even using trial software, in a virtual machine if necessary - don't wait for shipping... you don't have to.
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andyalderCommented:
You're bound to get hardware failures with servers in small accountants, realtors and such, small businesses tend to hide the server in the cupboard under the stairs where it overheats or under a desk where it gets full of dust.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
A question is open until it is completed.  This one is not completed.  Twenty-one days is only three weeks and it not a long amount of time.  I fail to see how that is being irresponsible.

Why the rush?  Isn't the goal to solve problems, not how quickly they are solved?  When I ask questions when time is short, I rarely get a solution.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
Your failure to see my needs should not be relevant.

 Until the server is ordered and installed,  the situation is still fluid.

As new questions come up, they will be asked.  Three weeks is not endlessly, not in any universe.

You have now been informed that I am interested in maintaining my question, so the matter should be settled for now.
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Juan OcasioApplication DeveloperCommented:
Did you get your systemax up and running?  We've had not problems with ours.  Worked out of the box.  We installed configured and implemented SBS 2008 in no time at all.  We did have a delay in getting ours, but that was due to our configuring it to our specs.  This is pretty typical.  We also purchased a Dell PowerEdge a couiple of years ago and it was 5 times the cost, with very expensive SCSI Drives, and no real horse power.  In my opinion Dell is just a name.  They have some good products, but for comparable components, you'll definitely find better in Systemax.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
The systemax never arrived.  Ordered it on a Wednesday night, web page promised to ship in 24 hrs (also had overnight shipping so we could get it by Friday), never shipped and kept getting the run around; they changed the web page to read usually in 3-5 days, finally cancelled the order on the next Monday.  Every time I talked to them they made up new crap to tell me, major BS.  From the way they were acting and since the phones were down one of the days for quite awhile, I assumed they were having financial difficulties (in my opinion).  They kept blaming the "3rd party shipper", which I assume to be Systemax.  

Then we could not get them to take the charges off the card.  It was the worst experience (or at least in the top tier) I have had in my 25+ years of ordering hardware.

I am currently having a little difficulty in getting a final quote from Dell on the server.  So I welcome any suggestions for other servers.  We are looking at <= $2,100 with on-site warranty.

I believe the earlier specs are above, not sure, it has been forever since I wrote them :-}

Thanks for the response.

Here is a new question.  How much more work am I getting myself into if I go from the foundation class to the 'regular' windows server 2008 (or whatever the next step up is)?
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Juan OcasioApplication DeveloperCommented:
I would try Systemax again.  Maybe you could set up an account as a business with them.  I am really surprised as I have been purchasing most of my major hardware from either tigerdirect or newegg for the past 10 years.  I do occassionally go through CDW, but I find the response I've gotten from tigerdirect has alway been the best.

I would've gotten a manager on the phone to get that issue resolved.  But I do admit when I purchased my Systemax product, it did take a while to get (a little over a week), but that was because they had to custom build my unit.  I was waiting for it as all of my other hardware (firewall, NAS product, windows SBS, etc) had already arrived.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
I went through supervisor, manager, customer service, anybody possible and as far up as they would let me.  Extensive google(R) searches did not lead me to any names higher up that I could try to approach as I have done with numerous other companies.

 It was a surreal experience. I voice recorded the experience (legal in Georgia) because I did not think anyone would believe how bizzare / twisted / unreal / nightmarish / fubar it was.  It was extremely bad, words cannot describe, though I am trying hard.  I would never call them again and will with great fervor tell everyone that I come in contact with to avoid that company.  I am even contemplating looking for computer shows to go to spread the word.

Mine was not a custom order, it was one that was advertised on several web sites in those annoying little ads on other web site  (and also one that came up with I googled the suggestions you gave me earlier and was at the $1k price you had mentioned).

And the crap they kept making up each phone call was mind boggling.  First it was a oversight by the third party shipper, then it was because it was a 'custom' system, then it was because it was a custom order that always takes 3-5 days (that was when they changed the web page, but I had a copy of the original) and on and on.  It was just amazing the lack of veracity or even simple ethical behavior in the conversations.  Each time they refunded me the shipping charge which did not exist. (though they did manage to ship my extended warranty within 24 hrs for a server that I did not have).

I finally came to the conclusion, in my opinion,  that they were having financial problems and the third party shipper would not ship due to non payment.

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jjackson2004Author Commented:
Took a look at newegg (had not heard of them).  their servers seem to be HP.  Do you have a particular server that you purchased from newegg you might recommend.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
This is getting to be a little ridiculous.  From my math, comments were added 9 days ago.  This question is not abandoned.  Nine days ago, you were informed that it is not abandoned.   Your actions are becoming quite annoying and imperious, and not something a paying client should have to endure.

The question will be completed when the server is ordered and installed as stated previously.  That should happen shortly.
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andyalderCommented:
Didn't reply on what HP one I would use. As it's a small business I'd probably get a ML110 G6 plus an extra disk to mirror with. You cqan either use the fakeRAID B110 or better get the P212/zero added, that's fine for hardware RAID1 mirror and the tape drive can run off it too.

http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/13477_div/13477_div.HTML#Storage
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
What would you recommend for a backup solution?  The ideal for them would be automated with the ability to take a copy off-site daily.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
I am also against off-site (i.e. over the internet) backups, so I would prefer recommendations that did not include them.
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andyalderCommented:
I'd normally suggest something like Ultrium 920 but your budget doesn't stretch to that so you're stuck with DAT320, I'd get the internal SAS or USB one, they come with HP Data Protector Express Basic which is fine for a single server but doesn't have add-ons such as MS Exchange or MS SQL capability.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
Ultrium looks like what I originally desired, but so many bad mouthed tape, I went away.  Possible problem is I ordered the Dell with a hardware raid controller, but with mirrored 1TB.  But no backup system .  So if there is something similar  to the Ultrium for the  Dell, would you please forward that information.
But now I realize DAT 320 is also tape, so you have recommended tape which I originally desired.

 I welcome the Dell tape solution as a distinct possibility, I would also like input from anyone who has a non-dat solution (for those of you earlier negative to tape).

Thanks
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andyalderCommented:
I thought Ultrium was a bit over your budget, they're much more reliable than DAT if you can afford it. I'm sure Dell do an LTO Ultrium option, but if not you can put any tape drive in a Dell, they're standard form factor.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
I will have to go back and look at the cost of Ultrium.  But it is your opinion that it or DAT are the way to go for backup solution?
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andyalderCommented:
Not particularly, they're not as reliable as ultrium but they do fit the limited budget.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
But again, trying to clarify, you would prefer a tape based backup system as opposed to say external usb disks or other option?
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andyalderCommented:
Yes, but maybe I'm old fashioned, I like to have something I can be happy to carry off site without the fear of breaking it by dropping it. Disks are certainly useful as a replacement to tape for backup but the best of breed is a 2.5" laptop disk in an expensive box to make it into a tape-like cartridge, if you only want two or three that's viable but for a couple of weeks worth of backup RDX becomes rather expensive.
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jjackson2004Author Commented:
I am currently looking for a tutorial / checklist for setting up Windows 2008 server foundation class.  I have been out of the setting up server situation for a long time.

Thanks
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