Windows SBS 2008 Domain - What kind of application server to add

Posted on 2011-05-07
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I am currently running a Doctor's office with a Windows SBS 2008 machine as the only server.  We are running into a problem because the Doctor's medical management software is having resource issues and we were recommended to put the software on its own machine. The Software uses SQL Express to run the database.  Essentially my question is this - would I see a real difference using a Windows Server 2008 machine vs. a beefy Windows 7 Professional (Fast processor, 16 GB of RAM) machine to run the software.  Essentially, each workstation will connect to a share folder on the application server to access the data file.  I have a about 10-12 machines in the office.  Speed is essential, but I am not sure if a dedicated Windows Server 2008 machine would be overkill.  What do you think?
Question by:dhollander
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    What are the resource issues?  CPU? RAM? I/O throughput?  Free space?

    Which version of SQL Express does it use?

    If I recall correctly Windows 7 will support 20 connections so there is no technical impediment to using Windows 7 instead of Windows Server for teh OS.  Additionally you don't *have* to install it on server-grade hardware but I would recommend it.  Or at least ensure that the workstation you build has appropriate redundancy.

    16GB of RAM is overkill.  There is a limit on the amount of RAM SQL Server Express will use (1GB if I recall).
    LVL 3

    Author Comment

    It seems to be a memory issue, but I am not really sure - the company is aware of the issue and is working on a fix, but basically the the software has been having some issues with larger practices.  In the meantime, the software is starting to crash a lot and the company who makes it suggested a dedicated machine for the software - they said it has helped many of the people with the same issue.  The key here is really speed - the Doctors are getting very frustrated and want a machine that will run the software fast and efficiently.   They would rather spend the additional money and get something faster - so my question really is, when hosting a network share and running SQL Server 2005 , hardware being equal - will I see a speed difference between a Server 2008 machine and Windows 7 machine?
    LVL 19

    Accepted Solution

    Probably not.  There is a difference but the difference will be negligable.

    As I say though if the problem is insufficient memory then using another machine may not help.  SQL Server 2005 Express uses a maximum 1GB RAM regardless of how much is in the machine.  If SQL Server needs more RAM you'll have to upgrade SQL Server 2005.

    Can the company provide a technical explaination for the issue?  (it may help to ensure you are getting the right advice)
    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    I recommend a server. You also have to think of the future.

    When the software is growing, when the database grows. And you have to switch to a full SQL server. Also there comes new software versions and it will require more and more specs.

    Without any shadow of a doubt, I would use a dedicated server, tune it disable unused services, secure it, and let the enjoy his new server.
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    Also on a server system you can always upgrade it. Windows 7 has a limit.

    A server system has a limit which is higher.
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    Hardware wise, I would definitely pay extra for hardware, get a good RAID controller with a baterry backed cache, at least 3 disks on a RAID 5 volume. A server grade NIC,

    And yes, using 16 GB of RAM on a file server is definitely overkill... Especially if the SQL on it can only address 1 or 2 GB of RAM ... I think that 4 GB are enough? How is the memory usage now?

    For the OS, I would try going with Windows 7. But be aware that if the number of clients will increase, you will reach a limit with Windows 7.  

    Or you could get a beefed up server, Virtualize the existing SBS and run this SQL on a separate VM...
    LVL 3

    Author Closing Comment

    I ended up going with the server, but I think Windows 7 would have been fine too- both answers got me to look at the overall issues and I thank you for your help.

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