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Dell R610 and R310 Setup procedure

Posted on 2011-09-27
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Hi all,

I am waiting for new Dell R610 and R310's and a 4820 rack to arrive. This all new to me so am kind of anxious.

The R610 has 2 RAID1 drives for the OS, and 4 RAID5 drives for the file server. The OS will be Windows 2003. The R310 will be a mail server.

Can you recommend tips and/or practices that may help a noob like me get a head start? Maybe things I should read.
Or, is it pretty straightforward, so just take it as it comes?

Thank you,
Chris
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Question by:NVIT
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by:arnold
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It is fairly straight forward, you would need to use the Dell provided OpenManage CD to boot the system, specify how you want the RAID configured (you only have to setup the RAID 1 for the OS install) the rest can be done after the OS is installed using dell openmanager.

Check out www.dell.com/support and look at the available downloads for the systems you are getting.  BIOS/RAID controller updates to bring the HW of the systems up-to-date.

The Dell OS install CD/DVD includes the section where you enter the windows OS install CODE and then it goes through the configuration of the RAID as you chose and then prompts you for the windows OS install CD/DVD.

Make sure to select a large enough C: partition. 20-30GB these days.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
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To elaborate on arnold's great answer:

The servers should come with a DVD called Dell OpenManage - Systems Management Tools and Documentation (unless you specifically declined this media during the order, in which case, you can download it from support.dell.com, under Systems Management).  Booting to this DVD will give you the option for an assisted OS install.  Just know that your 2003 CD MUST have SP2, and it may not work if it is VL media downloaded from Microsoft's eopen website.  As arnold said, it will walk you through setting up RAID (if not already done in the CTRL-R BIOS utility), boot partition size, and other OS-related settings.  Then it will prompt you for the Windows media to finish the install.  This will install all the latest drivers for devices in your server as it goes.

Also know that Server 2003 NON-R2 is NOT supported (as other than a guest VM) on the R310, as 2003 R2 is required to support its processors.  The R610 should run 2003 or 2003 R2 without problems though.  For either release, SP2 is required for basic compatibility.

Alternatively, you can use the USC (Universal Server Configurator) during POST to do the same as above, as there is a device on the server that contains all the drivers necessary to perform the install (this may not be present in the R310).

In the event your media does not work with SMTD, you can install directly from the OS CD, but this will be much more work than using SMTD - loading storage drivers, then finding and installing other drivers after installation is complete.

OpenManage Server Administrator is an indispensible utility used to monitor and interact directly with the system and its hardware, including individual drives in RAID arrays, NIC's, fans, hardware logs, etc.  This should be installed on any Dell server running a supported OS.  You will have the option of installing it when installing the OS with SMTD, or you can download and install it after the OS is completely loaded.

Feel free to follow up with any additional questions :)

Good luck!
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by:NVIT
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@arnold and @PowerEdgeTech,

I appreciate your help. Thank you. 8-)

CORRECTION: The OS will be Windows 2008. My apologies.

We currently have 1x 2003 server and 1x 2000 server running active directory at Windows 2000 level. I was thinking of setting the R610 as a member server at the get go. Then, as time permits, demote the 2000 server.  Then set the R610 as a DC and run AD at level 2003 with the 2003 server. Do you think that should work?

Yes, I ordered OpenManage DVD Kit.

The R610 is 2x 146GB 10K SA SCSI RAID1 drives. Since it will be used mainly for the OS, I assume it's ok to allocate the whole 146 GB at once. Unless you guys have better ideas!

The R610 also has 4x 300GB 10K SA SCSI RAID5 drives, to be used for our file server. It will serve mostly AutoCAD .dwg. It will also serve Revit (modeling) files, which can get quite large, e.g. 20 to 100 MB per file. Should I allocate the whole space at once? I was thinking maybe I could use a portion of it for other purposes... maybe a test lab. hahaha.

The R310 will be our mail server (MDaemon). It has 4x 1TB 7.2K SATA RAID5 drives. I'm wondering, why didn't Dell do a RAID1 for the OS partition, too? I guess the OS running on the same partition as the mail server app should be fine?

It also has iDRAC6 Express. How does iDRAC compare to OpenManage?

Chris
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"We currently have 1x 2003 server and 1x 2000 server running active directory at Windows 2000 level. I was thinking of setting the R610 as a member server at the get go. Then, as time permits, demote the 2000 server.  Then set the R610 as a DC and run AD at level 2003 with the 2003 server. Do you think that should work?"

I don't see why this shouldn't work.

"The R610 is 2x 146GB 10K SA SCSI RAID1 drives. Since it will be used mainly for the OS, I assume it's ok to allocate the whole 146 GB at once."

If the space will be largely unused, there's no harm in keeping it as a single partition.

"The R610 also has 4x 300GB 10K SA SCSI RAID5 drives, to be used for our file server. It will serve mostly AutoCAD .dwg. It will also serve Revit (modeling) files, which can get quite large, e.g. 20 to 100 MB per file. Should I allocate the whole space at once? I was thinking maybe I could use a portion of it for other purposes... maybe a test lab. hahaha."

If you are considering using a portion of it for something else (like virtual machines) ... rather than create a 4-disk RAID 5 and partition it into chunks to be used for different purposes, consider splitting the 4 drives into two 2-disk RAID 1's.  If you can afford the disk space "price" you pay by doing this, it would give you significantly higher performance if the space will be highly used for two different things.  

So, your RAID 5 would have around 840GB available to the OS.  Let's say your engineers do their daily work on files stored on a 420GB D: partition, and they currently use 30% of the drive (126GB used/294GB free), and you use a second 420GB T: drive for some other purpose (let's say a couple of VM's.  As all 4 disks are part of the RAID 5, all disk access between your engineers on the D: drive and your VM's on the T: drive will be shared, the controller bouncing all over the array to read/write data.

Now, let's say you opt for two RAID 1's instead.  You would then have a 280GB D: drive (126GB used/154GB free) and a 280GB T: drive for your VM's.  As you can see, this sacrifices some of your available disk space, but if you can afford it, the controller can actually handle reads/writes on your file-server RAID 1 separately and independently of the reads/writes for your VM's on the other RAID 1, potentially adding a signficant increase in access times.

"The R310 will be our mail server (MDaemon). It has 4x 1TB 7.2K SATA RAID5 drives. I'm wondering, why didn't Dell do a RAID1 for the OS partition, too? I guess the OS running on the same partition as the mail server app should be fine?"

This would have been configured at the time of order ... with 4x1TB drives, your only options would be a 4-disk RAID 5 or two  2-disk RAID 1's (or a RAID 6 or 10).  I don't know about MDaemon, but Exchange recommends logs and databases be stored on separate disks (in this case, RAID arrays) for faster access.  I would look into recommendations for that particular mail server.  I am no Exchange expert, but I would assume the recommended configuration would be two RAID 1's, if running Exchange.  However, again, with all drives configured in a single RAID 5, any reads/writes to any partitions configured on these drives will be shared.

"It also has iDRAC6 Express. How does iDRAC compare to OpenManage?"

OpenManage is a management software suite for managing, administering, and monitoring Dell servers.  If it helps, you can think of the iDRAC as an OpenManage "device" that compliments the OpenManage suite.  It can also be seen as similar to Remote Desktop for the server hardware.  Through its dedicated NIC, it can be used to access the system outside of the OS - to access the BIOS setup and other BIOS utilities, hardware logs, and remote power on/off of the server.  For example, you could install the OS on this server while sitting at your desk, with the server in the server rack.
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by:NVIT
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@PowerEdgeTech,

Wow! Excellent response. Great examples.

Thank you.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
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NP ... take care :)
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