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Looking for advice on server upgrade

We are currently looking at upgrading some of the major components of our network, and are looking for some advice on what would be the best plan of attack.

Our current DC is about 5 years old, and is really showing the effects of being the main server in our network for these 5 years.  It is currently our Domain Controller, DNS and DHCP server.  it is also a File Server and License server for a couple pieces of software.

We were going to just upgrade it to some current hardware with new server software and carry on our merry way.  But then decided to see if there was some thing better that we should be doing.  many things have changed in the last 5 years, both with our company and with the hardware options available.

to give you some background on our company.  we are a company of about 50 employees, and approximately 35 workstations. we are a manufacturing facility with mangers, engineers, sales people, production employees, etc....

there is some software that has network based licensing, other spreadsheets, databases, and drawings that are shared between users, and about 2Tb of data that is stored on this server.

So the question I have (or at least the first question) is what is our best course of action to proceed?  should we just upgrade as first thought to new hardware and new software and carry on......or is there a better plan of attack, like multiple servers...DC Server, File Server, Licencing, Etc... server.......

hope I have given enough information in order to get some of the great feedback that I have come to rely on here at EE......and make me look good again ! LOL!!

Thanks
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redekopmfg
Asked:
redekopmfg
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1 Solution
 
Mike KlineCommented:
Are you currently running with only one DC or do you have two.  If you are running with only one I'd address that issue first.  

I see you have 2003 listed.   5 years is a good time for new hardware and a new OS (20008 R2).

Thanks

Mike
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
I'd look at putting it on top of vmware esxi. That way you can move things around if you need t an upgrades are much easier. Hardware agnostic is the way to go.
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Mike KlineCommented:
I was thinking vmware too but they may be too small to justify that.  

How many total servers do you have now?
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redekopmfgAuthor Commented:
Yes Windows Server 2003 is correct, and we do only have one DC server.  I take it that is not preferred? I am pretty green when it comes to Domain Servers, and the likes, and I inherited this setup when our IT guy quit 3 years ago.

we currently have a total of 5 servers all doing different things and are all different ages and configurations...

We have this server.

We also have an SQL server that is also an application server for our ERP business software (Epicor).  

We also have a separate server for our main 3D cad server (PTC - ProE), which is where all the data and files are stored for this in its vault server.

Then we have a Powervault backup server,

and finally we have another server that is an exact duplicate of our main server, that was the original ERP server until we upgraded it 18 months ago.  it now is really only being used as a an indexing and print server for the ERP server.
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redekopmfgAuthor Commented:
Did i scare everyone off? :)
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
I think vmware (or hyper v if that's your thing) is definitely the way to go. Even if you just install your new 08r2 as a vm an that's it, it allows you the flexibility to add more in the future. You could even start moving other servers and installing esxi on them. Abstracting servers from the hardware has many many benefits.
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redekopmfgAuthor Commented:
Ok that is an option that i can look at....really interested in any specific hardware suggestions if possible.....
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
The Dell 710 is my personal sweet spot. 2u isn't a problem and I like the space for memory and drives. Price isn't bad if you domt go crazy with upgrades. I think the overcharge on drives but everything else is reasonable.
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kevinhsiehCommented:
You can run everything on a single server with virtualization, but the question is will you want to? I haven't had a Dell server go south on me in the last 6 years except for when I was trying to upgrade DRAC or lifecycle controller firmware, so I find them to be highly reliable. That said, many people aren't comfortable with running the entire operation on a single piece of hardware, which bumps you up to 2 servers, shared storage, double the Microsoft licensing costs, and probably a 4X cost over a single server solution. The shared storage requirement can really get you. The direction you go depends on your tolerance for potential downtime and your budget.

The Dell R710 is great because it has 18 memory slots and is 2U, which is easier to cable than a 1U server in the rack. The R710 has 8 internal drive bays, which may not be enough, depending on which direction redekopmfg wants to go. There is another server with more drive bays...the R510 I believe, but I can't check right now. I don't think that we are really to the hardware yet until virtualization is determined, whether or not to do clustering, and then internal virtual shared storage or external shared storage such as SAS.

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redekopmfgAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the great feedback.....

the server that we are currently running is a Dell server, and I have been very happy with it.  As for running everything on one server, that is not really what we want.  Right now, we are planning to leave the other 4 servers in tact, and upgrade the main server only.  

Budget is not a huge concern, but downtime is.  we have been running only one DC and it is on this main server.  like i mentioned above, we are also running a lot of other stuff on this server (file server licensing server, DHCP, DNS) and the real question is: is that the best way to be doing this, or are we really suffering on performance by having all this demand going to one server.  would we be better off (performance and redundancy wise) running two or three servers and split this demand up?

i.e. would we be further ahead buying one $15,000 server or 3 $5000 servers......

also, I am not very familiar with virtualization.  can someone give me the cliff notes version on the advantages of virtualization?
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kevinhsiehCommented:
You would be much farther ahead buying two $3000 servers, two copies of Windows Enterprise, and a $10,000 external SAS vs 5 individual servers in terms of performance, availability, and recoverability. Performance is limited by RAM and disk IO. My guess is that you can run all of your servers with a single quad core CPU with enough RAM and a fast disk subsystem.

http://www.vmware.com/virtualization/why-virtualize.html
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redekopmfgAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the help on this.  Unfortunatly everything has changed, our building burned down last week, so we are going to be starting over pretty much from scratch......

once i know what we are doing I will likely have some more questions......
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kevinhsiehCommented:
Oh my. I hope you had an offsite backup. The good news is you get to rethink things and start over from scratch.
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