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What Server should I purchase?

Posted on 2012-08-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-08-11
Hi Experts,

I would like to purchase a used Server for me to learn more about Windows Server 2008,
I could install it on my virtual box but I would like to practice installation on the real Server.
I know I may have to purchase the OS plus a few seats. I browse on Ebay and found different Servers very cheap.
Can you please advise me what to look for before getting one, I do not want to spend a lot of money?.

Question by:chenzovicc
LVL 125

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 400 total points
ID: 38284492
Dell PowerEdge or HP ProLiant servers would give you a good training ground, at configuring their RAID arrays for use with Windows Server 2008 R2, and completing teaming with the on-board nics.

Based on how much you want to spend will give you CPU, Memory and Disk (storage), so pick a server with at least 4GB RAM, Single CPU, and two 72GB disks.
LVL 97

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 1200 total points
ID: 38284501
you do not need to buy Server Software - if you're learning, you can download trials and learn and evaluate with those (they work for 6 months I believe and then you'd have to reinstall).  Or you can buy a subscription to TechNet and get fully functional versions for learning/testing purposes.

The server you buy MUST be 64 bit capable.  And if you want to be able to use newer technology like Server 2012 which will be released within a month or so, you need hardware that supports Second Level Address Translation.

When it comes to installing Server direct to physical hardware, it's really no different.  Every product (Dell, HP, IBM, Virtual, VMWare, Hyper-V, etc) will have their own little differences (drivers in most cases), but in general they are the same. What I would recommend is forget Ebay (especially if you previously thought you'd be buying a copy of server) and go BUILD a system - you'll learn more about the hardware and get a cheaper system you can play with and learn the product.  My two servers (wouldn't recommend this to a client, but I DO for myself) are home built AMD FX 8120 based systems.  These are 8 Core processors with 2 TB drives and 32 GB of RAM for under $800 each.  And if you want to learn technology, Virtualization is one of the most important ones to be learning now.  VMWare, Hyper-V - understand these and you'll do well.  Including understanding how to cluster and do various failover options.
LVL 34

Assisted Solution

Michael-Best earned 400 total points
ID: 38284593
This guide will explain the basic principles of the technology, help you decide which class of server will best fit your needs, and give you some ballpark pricing, so you don’t overspend or acquire a product that’s insufficient for your needs.


Free trial & Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtual Labs
What is SQL Server and how does it work?

The purpose of this paper is to provide you background on SQL Server. It’s your self-study guide for learning fundamentals. It includes both the history of SQL and its technical basics. Concepts and definitions will form the solid foundation of your future DBA expertise.


Author Comment

ID: 38284701
Thanks for your replies, very helpful.
Leew, I will be very interested in building one Server by myself because I want to learn and if you could please provide me with a guide on what to buy and how to build it up I will appreciate.
I want to learn Virtualization, which I know on the desktop side like VMWARE workstation but not on the Server side.

LVL 97

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 1200 total points
ID: 38284723
Businesses should be running servers on Type 1 hypervisors - these are "bare metal" hypervisors and include VMWare's ESXi and Microsoft's Hyper-V.  

The systems I put together run AMD's FX8120 8 core 3.1 GHz CPU.  I bought 970 based boards (Gigabyte) and just built the system adding RAM (16, then quickly upgrading to the board max of 32 GB).  The free VMWare ESX as I understand it is limited to 32 GB anyway and Hyper-V on Server Standard is also limited to 32 GB (the Free Hyper-V is a PITA to configure and manage but can use FAR more RAM).  Still 32 GB is more than enough for most learning/testing purposes (I have 8 VMs running now and still 10 GB of unassigned RAM in Hyper-V systems.

(There IS a bug in 2008 R2 that requires a patch to properly recognize the CPUs are Virtualization capable if running Hyper-V, but it is easily fixable if you're aware of it).

I think going beyond this description should probably be another question.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38284799
I am posting a new question related to building that Server.

Thanks Guys.

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