?
Solved

What type of hardware specs should I be looking for to setting up Windows server 2012 with the following requirements?

Posted on 2012-09-12
25
Medium Priority
?
939 Views
Last Modified: 2012-09-21
We are upgrading server from SBS 2003 to Windows Server 2012 and I find the hardware requirements for Server 2012 to be very misleading. It seems to be extremely low.

We are looking at purchasing an HP Proliant ML350p Gen 8 server and I am wondering what type of hardware specs I should be looking for so the following would run smoothly without any problem.

- 20 to 25 networked computers with access to shared folders.
- Approx 60 users connecting by remote desktop
- Backup approximately 500 gigs of information per night
- Setup Exchange for close to 60 active users
0
Comment
Question by:JohnnyBCJ
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
25 Comments
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:gbarrientos
ID: 38391969
Will all this be running on one server?
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38391982
Nothing has been decided yet. We are only at the extremely early stages.

I don't know if this is going to be 1 server running Hyper-V or if it's going to be 2.

Again, I'm simply looking for what people's recommendations are.
0
 
LVL 32

Accepted Solution

by:
Scott C earned 924 total points
ID: 38392010
There is a world of difference between "requirements" and "recommended".

I would get as much memory, HD space and processor speed as you can work into the budget to allow for further growth.

Too many times I have seen companies plan for their immediate needs only to have to upgrade because their usage requirements changed.

I woluld have no less than 32 Gigs of memory, 8 146  Gig drives configured as a RAID 5 array, and as fast as processors as you can get/afford.

That server can hold 768 Gig of memory so you could expand later if necessary without too much trouble.

I would also get a model with two power supplies so you wil have redundancy.
0
Industry Leaders: We Want Your Opinion!

We value your feedback.

Take our survey and automatically be enter to win anyone of the following:
Yeti Cooler, Amazon eGift Card, and Movie eGift Card!

 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:Scott C
ID: 38392011
It's easier to offer recommendations if we know what the requirements will be.
0
 
LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:gbarrientos
gbarrientos earned 1076 total points
ID: 38392014
If only one server I would suggest running Hyper V to segregate roles and possibly break out to different servers in the future. Your going to find that your bottle neck will be IO. Make sure you get a good RAID controller and run RAID 10 if possible. Separate OS drive from storage drives. Single Quad Core Xeon processor with Hyper threading and 16 gig of RAM should do the trick. But more importantly is the hard drives. I don't know what your budget is but 10K SAS drives would be nice or even SSD's as they are coming down in price.
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38392044
I understand there is a world of a difference between "requirement" and "recommended". I'm looking at a starting point. I want this process to go as smoothly as possible and the insanely low hardware requirements for Windows Server 2012 confuses me.

As of now, Here is what is required:

- 20 to 25 networked computers with access to shared folders.
- Approx 60 users connecting by remote desktop
- Backup approximately 500 gigs of information per night
- Setup Exchange for close to 60 active users


If you have any questions on what "other requirements" could be, please let me know and I'll tell you.

We currently have a simple raid setup where 2 drives clone each other and every week I replace one of the hard drives and take it off site.

If we were to change this raid setup to be different, is there a way for me to accomplish the same thing as what I'm currently doing?

One of our bigger nuisances with the current setup is that if people decide to copy files from the network drive to local or local to network, they slow the entire network down and I get plenty of phone calls telling me it's slow.
0
 
LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:gbarrientos
gbarrientos earned 1076 total points
ID: 38392062
Definitely spend the largest percentage of your budget on your storage speed. The items you specified are not process or memory intensive, they are hard drive intensive. 32 gigs  of RAM is overkill, i think. I am running Exchange 2010 on a 16 gig of RAM with 3K users and RAM to spare. The key is IO speed.
0
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:Scott C
Scott C earned 924 total points
ID: 38392063
If the server will be a File/Print and Exchange server what I suggested would be fine for your needs.

Now if they want to add more like a Fax server, SQL, etc.  You would probably need to consider more memory, HD space or an additional server.

As long as there are no problems with your network, getting SAS or SSD drives would allow fast enough access so you shouldn't see a slowdown.
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38392092
MySQL will be used for a number of programs I've created.

Remote users will need to print from this server. Local users will print locally and not through the server.

It will also be a Fax Server as well, I completely forgot that!!

My boss was looking at getting 7200 SAS drives. I know there is a benefit of getting the 10k or 15k SAS drives but I don't know enough to say "We need 10k/15k sas drives because of reasons 1...2...3... etc"

We currently use Sata drives and the OS and storage is on the same drive.
0
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:Scott C
Scott C earned 924 total points
ID: 38392128
I would push for at least the 10k SAS.

It sounds like this server will be getting used pretty heavily for data access.  And like gbarrientos said you need to put the $$ into your storage speed.

The reasons are:

Access speed, productivity, and performance.

You really don't want to skimp here.

I agree also you can go with 16 Gig of memory if that will get you faster drives.

You can always dump more memory in quickly and easily.

Bosses look at saving dollars without realizing the ramifications down the road.

You will also do better having the OS and data on different drives.
0
 
LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:gbarrientos
gbarrientos earned 1076 total points
ID: 38392151
If buying 7200 Drives, stick to SATA. Make sure you have a good RAID controller and use RAID 10 if possible. Use RAID 10 for data and RAID 1 for OS.
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:Scott C
ID: 38392174
I found this simple diagram that explains RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.

http://www.thegeekstuff.com/2010/08/raid-levels-tutorial/

You might already know this but it explains it very well.
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38392218
It's easy to say 'have the OS and Storage on separate drives' but it's harder to explain the performance increase of it. It's not like I can say "If we do this, our speed is 20 but if we set it up this way, our speed will be 80, what do you prefer?".

Our 2003 TS has 32 gigs of ram right now. Unfortunately the SBS only has 4 gigs as it's 32 bit.

I understand why you would want to do it. I guess the problem is that it exponentially gets more expensive. For example, I wouldn't be able to take 1 hard drive home a week, it would be a minimum of 2 (OS and Storage). If I setup as you're suggesting, I'd need even more drives than that.

So is 7200 Sata Drives the same in performance as 7200 SAS? Everywhere I've seen online suggested SAS but the majority of them compare different hard drive speeds. Clearly a 15K drive is going to be a faster speed than 7200.

I do understand Raids and the differences between them.  I guess coming up with the pros on why this would be better than what we currently have is the problem I'm facing.
0
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:Scott C
Scott C earned 924 total points
ID: 38392257
As far as the OS and storage on seperate dirve...we recenly had a case where the data drive became unstable and needed to be reformatted.

We did that and restored the data and were back in business

If the OS and data were on the same drive we would have been looking at many more hours until recovery as the OS would have needed to be installed and configured all over again.

If it had been the OS drive that had failed then we would have needed to install the OS and configure it but would not have had to restore the data as well.

Aside from performance, it can be handy in the event of a failure.

It all comes down to how important is your data and what you are willing/able to spend to protect and access it as much as possible.
0
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:Scott C
Scott C earned 924 total points
ID: 38392265
Your comment from above..."One of our bigger nuisances with the current setup is that if people decide to copy files from the network drive to local or local to network, they slow the entire network down and I get plenty of phone calls telling me it's slow. "

I doubt it's your network that is slow, it most likely is the server trying to keep up with all of the data access requests.

That is your realy arguement for a better storage solution.

You would need to run some performance checks on your server, but I'm willing to bet that it's the data access that is your bottleneck.
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38392323
I know you're right about the bottleneck being the IO. Too bad there isn't a way that I can show him other than to clone the current drive to a 10k or 15k drive and let him copy a file and see the difference. We're also not at our peak season yet either.

I agree with your point of view on the OS and data being on separate drives. I just don't think he'd be a fan of me bringing a half dozen hard drives home weekly. Not a trust issue, but a cost issue.

"If it does what we want it to do and it works, leave it alone. We're not changing it."
0
 
LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:gbarrientos
gbarrientos earned 1076 total points
ID: 38392334
You really shouldn't be pulling a hard drive as your backup solution. Pulling the drive and breaking redundancy means that when you reinsert the drive, the server has to rebuild the drive which is a huge burden on the server. Instead you can buy a cheap NAS like a buffalo link station for less than  $200 and perform backup jobs.
0
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:Scott C
Scott C earned 924 total points
ID: 38392355
Run some PerfMon counters and see if you can show that IO is the bottleneck.

I love managers wth that mentality.  Makes our jobs harder.

With attitudes like that we'd all still be using horse-drawn buggies.
0
 
LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:gbarrientos
gbarrientos earned 1076 total points
ID: 38392382
There are many benchmarks already out there with many real world examples. Like this one for example. http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/datacenter/calculate-iops-in-a-storage-array/2182.
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38392420
I'll inform my boss your suggestions and I'll get back to this tomorrow with any replies.
Thank you very much!!
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38398583
I was in contact with a Microsoft/HP Server rep and he agreed with what you guys are saying as well.

2 processors with 6 cores (15 MB cache) would be plenty.
16 to 32 GB of Ram.
OS on Raid 1
Data on Raid 10
2 GB Raid Controller.
He prefers SAS over Sata for a number of reasons. The 3 year hard drive warranty, the 10k-15k option and SAS has a static controller built into the drive as well.


You really shouldn't be pulling a hard drive as your backup solution. Pulling the drive and breaking redundancy means that when you reinsert the drive, the server has to rebuild the drive which is a huge burden on the server. Instead you can buy a cheap NAS like a buffalo link station for less than  $200 and perform backup jobs.


Pulling the hard drive is how we get the data physically out of the building.
Our backups include the following:
Shadow Copies at 7 AM, 12 PM.
Differential backup Sunday - Friday with a full backup done Saturday.
and of course we have a Raid setup.
0
 
LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:gbarrientos
gbarrientos earned 1076 total points
ID: 38399715
I understand that pulling the drive is how you get the backups out of the building, but its not very efficient. You're better off getting 1 external hard drive and doing a backup and taking that 1 hard drive home. When you break the RAID array by ejecting the drive the entire drive has to rebuild. This is very resource intensive not to mention lowering the life expectancy of your drives. But definitely up to you.
0
 

Author Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38406522
Ok, so you're saying taking a backup onto an external drive and taking that external drive home would be better than breaking the raid at the end of the day and letting it build over night? A full system backup onto an external drive takes about 12 hours to complete.

The ability to plug the raided drive back in and be exactly where you were to when the drive got pulled isn't as sufficient as having to re-setup the OS and than do a system restore on an external drive? I'm just trying to make sure I understand you properly.
0
 
LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:gbarrientos
gbarrientos earned 1076 total points
ID: 38410492
Yes it's definitely better to backup on to an external drive. I recommend something like esata or USB 3. If it takes 12hrs to complete a backup job how long do you think it takes a raid drive to rebuild bit by bit? Not to mention all the processing power used to rebuild a raid array. Besides, you can do a differential or incremental  backup which will dramatically decrease your backup times.

A raid array is for disk redundancy not a backup solution. What happens if someone deletes files and didn't notice until a week later?
0
 

Author Closing Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 38422813
Thank you very much for your help!
0

Featured Post

[Webinar] Cloud and Mobile-First Strategy

Maybe you’ve fully adopted the cloud since the beginning. Or maybe you started with on-prem resources but are pursuing a “cloud and mobile first” strategy. Getting to that end state has its challenges. Discover how to build out a 100% cloud and mobile IT strategy in this webinar.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

Introduction: When experiencing some peculiar problem with the functioning of your PC, how many times has it happened that you look for a solution and even google can’t help? It could be that you are one of the only few people on earth who ma…
As cyber crime continues to grow in both numbers and sophistication, a troubling trend of optimization has emerged over the last year.
Look below the covers at a subform control , and the form that is inside it. Explore properties and see how easy it is to aggregate, get statistics, and synchronize results for your data. A Microsoft Access subform is used to show relevant calcul…
As many of you are aware about Scanpst.exe utility which is owned by Microsoft itself to repair inaccessible or damaged PST files, but the question is do you really think Scanpst.exe is capable to repair all sorts of PST related corruption issues?
Suggested Courses

807 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question