I need Server Purchase/Disaster Recovery Configuration Advice


I am trying to plan for a server revamp and need some advice. I have 6 servers(listed below), and need to ensure that I make wise purchases. Our current system is based on older servers running MS Server 2003 Standard. I would like to update both hardware and software, and plan for disaster recovery. I don't necessarily need instant recovery, and could manage with up to 24 hours downtime. With that in mind, I've been looking at virtualization, clustering, system images, etc. as possible solutions, but I'm unsure which route to take. I have around $30K budgeted for this project, but work for a non-profit and get good discounts from Microsoft.

I also have a need for file storage, with around 7-8TB of data now sitting on desktops and external drives, which needs to be centralized.

Here is my current server configuration:

Physical Server 1 – Primary Domain Controller
Physical Server 2 – Secondary Domain Controller/Radius Server
Physical Server 3 – Exchange Server 2003
Physical Server 4 – SQL Database Server/Financial Management Software Server
Physical Server 5 – DNN Web Server
Physical Server 6 – Print Server, BES, Helpdesk Server

All current servers are Dell, and have been very reliable. Dell support has also been great, but I'm open to other manufacturers as well.

I have been backing up documents & critical data to external drives, and the data gets uploaded automatically to Amazon S3. I would prefer future backup systems to be to disk, and not tape. However, I do have a Quantum Superloader 3 that I can use if I must. Tape is just such a pain in the neck!

Thanks, in advance, for any advice.

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This is the best storage solution if your planning to deploy disaster recovery.


This is very easy to configure and implement. This supports RAID 0,1,10,5,6
RAID 10 is best for fail-over and redundancy. I have attached storage configuration pdf. You can have idea now.  Doc1.pdf
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waco_museAuthor Commented:
Thank you both for your suggestions thus far, and thanks for the pdf, 1ly4me!

I agree with Dell being a top resource for my needs. I've been reading through the descriptions of Proxy-based, hosted, and guest backups... there's a lot to consider.

As I see it so far, it looks like I will need to purchase at least two servers to replace my PDC & Exchange, and use Server '08 & Exchange 10. Then, I will need to purchase something like the PowerVault-md3200, running Hyper-V, for backups.

If it is not recommended to virtualize my physical machines, as 1ly4me stated, how does Hyper-V fit into the picture?

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As I mentioned, you can run your servers in physical machines and replicate same configuration virtually.

You have to have atleast two servers for disaster recovery. You need to buy one new server for replication and any one of storage box. I would recommend RAID 5 array is good for your 8TB storage.
You need minimum 16TB free in storage box, so that you can make sure you are having old backups as well.

waco_museAuthor Commented:
If I use two physical servers for my PDC and Exchange, would it be an issue to virtualize the other 3 servers (listed above)? I am trying to do all of this and stay within my $30K budget.
The best practise is to have primary DC, Exchange server, SQL server in physical.
You can have secondary DC, WEB server and printer server virtually.

Because DC, Exchange and SQL using more RAM, If you virtual these servers it may go down if there is no sufficient memory available some time.

Secondary DC, WEB and printer server are not using as much physical memory but using more bandwidth.

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waco_museAuthor Commented:
I will be able to complete my project with the advice given. Thank you.
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