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Network Design Questions regarding servers

Posted on 2012-09-07
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Hello, I have a client with the current configuration, they have 20 PCs:

Server A: SBS 2003 running as Domain, Exchange, Quikbooks (3 users), LOB application and File + Print.
Server A specs:   About 10 years old: hardware) Intel Pentium 4 2800, 1.5 gig ram, raid 1 250 gig hard drives (Western Digital Blue Cavalier 7.2k RPM)

Server B: Server 2008 Foundation running as File Server.
          About 5 years old: hardware) AMD Opteron 1214 Dual Core 2200mhz, 8 Gig Ram, Raid 5 with 6 250 Gig hard drives.

As you can see, Server A is over tasked and underpowered (runs very slowly). I'm going to suggest to the client that they replace Server A with a new server. This new server will run their Database program only, so it will run Server 2008 STD.

Since Server B is underutilized, I was going to suggest putting on SBS 2011, however looking at the requirements, the CPU of Server B doesn't meet the requirement.

I'd like for Server B be used as the DC, exchange, file + print and Quickbooks. So my question is, would you put SBS 2008 on it, knowing you'd probably get about 5-7 useful years out of it, plus know that MS would discontinue support sooner than 2011.

Or would you try to get client to replace Server B with one that can handle SBS 2011?

Obviously there could be a million different configurations of servers, but I'm trying to balance cost plus long term ROI.

Thanks,
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Question by:bhodge10
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 38378070
I personally consider running any "mission critical" server out of warranty to be a high risk scenario. Replace both servers. One good server, built with virtualization in mind, can let you consolidate your workloads while maintaining LOB separation.

Have the conversation, let them know they should budget to replace the server at the end of the server's warranty, and then buy the warranty to match. Default for most servers is 3 years, many offer 5 year optional purchases though. So depending on the client's budget and risk tolerance, they can get on a 3 year server replacement cycle, or a 5 year replacement cycle with a slightly higher up-front cost for the extended warranty.

Either way, not only will you address the immediate risk and issue, but you prevent it from recurring down the road. This can be a difficult conversation, but it portrays you as a knowledgable professional and most businesses will respect that.

And since we are discussing new hardware, that makes SBS 2011, or maybe even Server 2012, viable options. I can not find any good reason to consider SBS 2008.

-Cliff
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theras2000 earned 2000 total points
ID: 38378102
Why not just put SBS on the new Server A and the database on server B?  If you're buying a new server A, it'll be the more powerful of the 2.  I'd even suggest making server A powerful enough for SBS 2011.  They seem to not like spending money and to be fine with holding servers for a loooong time, so it seems to me that you could stick to a pattern of upgrading 1 (or preferably both) servers every 5 years.  Even this 5yr old one sounds a bit old.

I know this type of client and I understand your position.  It's better for everyone if they buy new stuff but they want it as cheaply as possible.  They never want to factor in the service slowness or extra support required to hold onto old systems.
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by:andyalder
ID: 38378144
You need to tell us more about this "LOB application". Is there a 64 bit version of it that they can migrate to easily?
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by:captain
ID: 38378154
I am not sure where you are based but the quickest and most cost effective solution may be to buy a new server for A.

When I say new I mean used really.

In this climate and with so many companies going bust second hand equipment is very cheap. Use a famous auction house and look for G4 HP Proliant servers and you spend very little, especially if you are in the UK. I just bought a rack mount 1U server with 2x 2.4ghz XEON 8GB ram and 2x 320GB HDD for under $150.

Just a thought.
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by:bhodge10
ID: 38379369
The LOB is a Salon/Spa POS and reporting software. According to the software vendor, the recommended requirements are:

Intel Xeon 2.4 GHz or faster
8GB RAM
3 x 146 GB 15k RPM SCSI

This current Database is not based on SQL, but when the new version rolls out next year, it will be. So not only do I want to make sure the LOB server performs well with the current version, but with the new version too.

Also, I have thought about the new server running SBS 2011 with Premium add-on and running a virtual machine to run the LOB. My understanding is that the server host OS would be 2008, then one virtual machine would be SBS 2011 and the other VM would be 2008 for the LOB. Is this correct? I'm a little apprehensive to run SBS 2011 on the VM, should it fail to load or the potential for other issues (what they could be, I'm not sure).

If I did go this route, what would you do with Server B?
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 38380419
Your host would be 2008 R2, as would the second guest. 2008 and 2008 R2 are different OSes and the names should never be used interchangeably.

As far as server B it is five years old. Decommission and recycle it.
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by:andyalder
ID: 38380999
You (and the software vendor) should be wary about specifying "xeon" since that name is over 10 years old. It's like saying you need a Ferrari, then buying a clapped out one. Although the chips don't wear out you'll have 20 times as much performance with a new one than with an old one, also DDR2 RAM for the older ones is more expensive than modern DDR3 and the new ones are much more power efficient. A year's worth of electricity bill for running an old Xeon is more than a new one would cost. Specifying a required speed is a bit naff as well since assuming the app is multi-threaded you can do a heck of a lot more with 4 * 2GHz cores than you could do with a single 4 GHz one.

Specifying 3 * 146GB 14Ks is a bit off too, if there's random writing then 2 * 300GB ones would be faster although since there is SBS plus the database on the same box I'd get a few more for faster I/O than that, maybe SSDs for the fast stuff.
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Author Comment

by:bhodge10
ID: 38384433
Thanks everyone for your input. I think I'm going to get the customer to upgrade to new server powerful enough to run SBS 2011. I'll have it run Server 2008r2 as the host, SBS 2011 run as a guest and another Server 2008R2 as a second guest for LOB.

As for hard drives, I might run Raid 1 for OS and file serving (1 partition for OS and another for File serving) and Raid 1with SSD for LOB. Or should i go with Raid 5 for SSD?
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by:bhodge10
ID: 38389638
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