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Advice on Servers and Software to Purchase

Posted on 2012-04-05
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We need to run SQL Server Standard Edition with a 10 GB database that 150 users are constantly accessing using Microsoft Access applications with linked SQL Server tables.  We also need to run Microsoft Exchange, not as an Email Server (we're going to continue to use our outside source) but for email storage for about 60 users.  We need to implement active directory and have a DHCP server running.

Which solution is best overall, considering cost, performance, simplicity, reliability, and disaster recovery?  <Note: I'm trying not to incurr the expense of a SAN>

1.) Deploy a sever that runs all of this.  Image the server and restore the image to a second off-line server that could take the place of the Active Server if the Active Server failed.

What specs would the server need to perform well enough?  Would the Backup Server need to have the same hardware and resources?

2.) Have two servers ...
Server 1: Active directory, Exchange and DHCP. <A dormant version of SQL Server installed for Disaster Recovery (DR) >
Server 2: SQL Server (most critical application that needs to perform well, so put it on its own Server)  < A dormant installation of Exchange for DR >

Every hour copy SQL Server data to Server 1 and Exchange data to Server 2 for DR.  If one server goes down, the other can run everything until the broken server is fixed.

What issues are there with installing dormant versions of SQL Server and Exchange?  How quickly can one server take over the other server's functions?

3.) The same as (2), but a virtual server running SQL Server on Server 1 with SQL Server's data on Server 1 and a virtual server running everything else running on Server 2 with Exchange data on Server 2.

Can a virtual server running on a physical box access data on the same physical box (i.e. data that isn't part of the virtual server)?  If so, is there any reason that we shouldn't do this?
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Question by:Declan_Basile
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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Why not use Veeam Backup and Replication v6 which can replicate this Virtual Machine to another VMware ESXi server in realtime, ready to be powered on, if in the event VM A (source) fails?

Veeam Backup and Replication v6
http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-backup.html
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unsatiated earned 500 total points
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Explain a little more on the email storage item and ill pick apart the others now.  

For the SQL DB, I would suggest purchasing two small servers perhaps two dl360s and simply utilizing database mirroring.  This will allow you to have a secondary database server that will be identical to the first in case of a hardware issue with pristine copies of your data.  Also obviously a maintenance plan for daily backups as your normal DR solution.  

Server 1: Active directory, Exchange and DHCP primary scope.
Server 2: Active directory, DHCP secondary scope.
Server 3: SQL primary DB server
Server 4: SQL secondary mirrored database server.

What issues are there with installing dormant versions of SQL Server and Exchange?  How quickly can one server take over the other server's functions?  Since you are only using Exchange as  repository for emails, backups of the datastores should be sufficient.  If it is mission critical, you can isntall Exhange on the secondary AD DC and replicate the data there as well.  

For failover times, you can update DNS to repoint from SQL1 to SQL2 utilizing a cname which should reduce overall recovery time to minutes since no reconfiguration will be required.  You can configure automatic database failover with mirroring or manual.







I hope this helps.
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by:Declan_Basile
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Thanks for the replies.  I'll be back to work on Monday to explore these options further.  Would database mirroring slow down performance?  As for email storage, we are planning to use exchange to store everyone's emails into one secured, backed up file instead of everyone downloading their emails to the .pst files on each of their computers and having to backup each person's individual pst.
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by:Declan_Basile
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I read up on database mirroring and also Exchange replication and am leaning more towards this option than virtualization.  What do you think about this.

Server 1: SQL primary DB server
Server 2: Active directory, Exchange and DHCP primary scope.
Server 3: Active directory, DHCP secondary scope, SQL secondary mirrored DB server, Exchange secondary standby server

Note: SQL Server is on Server 1 by itself because it's most critical for performance, and Server 3 is strictly for Redundancy.

Do you know if we would have to purchase a full second copy of SQL Server and a full second copy of Exchange for redundancy?
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by:Declan_Basile
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Thanks for the information.  You gave me topics to lookup and learn more about (cname, SQL Server mirroring, etc.).  We decided on a two server solution ...

Server 1: SQL Server, Exchange (for storage only), AD DC, Print Server, DHCP primary scope
Server 2: Mirrored SQL Server, Replicated Exchange, AD DC, Backup Print Server, DHCP secondary scope

We'll be ordering the servers with plenty of resources to handle all of this  (24 GB RAM, Xeon E5640 2.66 GHZ processor).  We still have to decide on the hard drives and RAID configuration.
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