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windows sbs Server 2011 standard hardware

Posted on 2013-01-16
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I'm looking fora  new server to run windows sbs 2011 standard.
I was thinking of buying a dell server without the harddisk and even memory since they are totaly overpriced.
Wich harddisk do you recommend in a dell server. And how many disks would I need?  Just 2 disks in raid with 3 partitions ( 1 windows, 1 exchange and one for data sharing?)
I only have 3 mail accounts ( users). What about the memory? 16 GB?
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Question by:Felipe911
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38782108
If on a very limited budget I would do two discs in a raid 1 two partitions one for oS and the other for data
Install will put exchange on the oS partition by default
The only problem is that this configuration will cause contention between oS and data calls as the partitions are on the same spindle set ( so it really does not matter where exchange is located)

Not "best practice" but should not be a problem given the limited number if users involved

A better configuration would be four drives in two raid 1 arrays

One for the oS exchange files and transaction logs

The second for general data storage and for the exchange data files
This avoids the contention

16gb memory should be fine for this small number of users
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by:dlethe
ID: 38782494
Get 2 of the least expensive enterprise-class SATA disks for the O/S, and two SAS disks for everything else.  Mirror both RAID1.   You can save money by NOT getting a RAID controller and letting the O/S do software-based RAID.

Make sure the D drive is set to ntfs of 64KB, because that is the native I/O size of sql server. Any other NTFS size will be inherently inefficient.

Lowball CPU power, because you won't be CPU bound.
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38782540
Agree with the drive suggestions

I would prefer the raid in hardware but software option would indeed save money (slight performance hit as a result)

SBS uses by default a couple of SQL instances, MSSQL$SBSMONITORING for monitoring, MSSQL$SHAREPOINT for Sharepoint and MSSQL$MICROSOFT##SSEE the Windows internal database, used by Wsus and sharepoint. So SQL is installed on a SBS server.
 
Microsoft doesn't recommend to install any other SQL instance on the SBS server (domain controller), there are a few security issues and ofcourse if it is a heavily used SQL server it will have impact on the other parts of your SBS server notably exchange. These are some of the reasons the have the premium add-on with the SQL license. I think the security issue is that you cannot run the SQL services under local system so you have to create a service account with rights on your domain controller.
 
But if you can live with those things you can install SQL on the SBS server.
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38782585
Thanx for the comments. But 4 disks for a small business with 3 people seems a bit overkill.
Wouldn't 2 disks in raid 1 with 2 partitions ( one for os and exchange and one for exchange data + a few shared document folders + some desktop backups) be sufficiant?
There really is very little data traffic trough or from the server.
What do you mean by "Lowball CPU power, because you won't be CPU bound"
"Get 2 of the least expensive enterprise-class SATA disks ( any examples) for the O/S, and two SAS ( why expensive sas  disk if there's so little traffic ?)disks for everything else. "
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by:dlethe
ID: 38782643
Then do two disks. If performance sucks, buy two more.  I literally mean buy the least expensive CPU option they give you.


(OR buy a used server, toss the drives away and pick up 2-4 new disks).  Y
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by:dlethe
ID: 38782662
Actually, when I think about it, if this is all you have why not just spend $50-$75 a month and let some ISP host your exchange (like rackspace.com).  Then you won't need SBS at all.  Go with some $199 NAS appliance and put in 2 decent disks and mirror them.

This is what I would do in your situation.
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38782692
cloud solutions are not an option for my client for it is expensive. 50*12 $ = 600$ per year.
Thats the same cost as an exchange server running local.
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cpmcomputers earned 334 total points
ID: 38782695
Thats an otion also

otherwise a single raid on two enterprise quality sata would be ok ( with the limitations as previously expressed) and you should be Ok

Something like a western digital RE

(Retail sata are not designed for 7/24/365 or Raid operation and are very likely to fail)
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38782699
Would a i3 proc be equally reliable as a xeon proc?
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38782709
And a western digital RED is disigned for 27/7/365  for let's say 8 years?
I now have scsi disk that have been running for 10 years without one iisue... but i think thats obselate and to expensive for this config
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38782749
Western Digital RE not RED

The point is enterprise quality drives have specific design differences that make them stable and suitable for RAID operations

Retail drives are unsuitable for this purpose

All drives have an unpredictable failure rate
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38782768
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 38782880
You're missing the point of buying a Dell.  Or an IBM.  Or an IBM/Lenovo.

ONE VENDOR.  If you start mixing and matching components and there's a problem, WHO are you calling?  If you call Dell, the answer is "We'll try to help you, but it's not our hardware" (if there's a problem with the Drives)  Or "Remove all the RAM except ours and we'll see if the problem is still there"

Server hardware is more expensive, period.  Server RAM requires ECC which is more expensive.  You try to cheap this out and it MAY work... you MAY get away with it.  But if the business ends up down for 3 days or more while you try to get a problem worked out, are you looked upon as the Hero for savings $200-500, or the villian for being too cheap to buy from one vendor who has responsibility over the whole thing?
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by:dlethe
ID: 38782888
100% of disk drives fail.   I've got SCSI disks that were made in 1994 on an old VMS system I use every week or so to maintain code.   But then again, I've had SCSI drives fail after a few hours or weeks.

Also RAID1 doesn't just protect against catastrophic data loss in event of a drive failure, it protects against partial data loss due to an unrecoverable read error.

Look, retail drives are unacceptable.  Buy a cheap used PC for $100, put in 2 enterprise class disks with host-based RAID1.  The PC may crap out but at least the data will be safe.  That is the least expensive way to go if they must have the  hardware onsite ... outside of outsourcing exchange.

Do the math on the microsoft tax for SBS 2011, plus what it costs to maintain the system, the mail, service packs, and backup.   $600/year is a bargain.  No WAY can somebody do that for less.
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38782894
They will fit the bill

Just a thought, will Dell actually ship a server with no HDD and/or memory ? where does this leave you with support.

Also make sure to leave adequate space for the o/s partition SBS has a habit of creating lots of log files  -120GB should be good
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38782911
Sorry Leew beat me to it in posting

On balance if it was my money, I would be inclined to spec a Dell T110 with a sata raid1 and 16GB memory - All from Dell

Assuming, a hosted solution is not preferred
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by:dlethe
ID: 38782947
My money ... OUTSOURCE the critical mail.  Then the hardware doesn't matter, and down time is inconvenient but doesn't impact people trying to send/receive mail.  Users can send/receive mail through their smart phones or any internet-based web browser as need be, and nobody will ever know.

(Of course that doesn't help your company trying to sell something, but it is the right thing for an end-user.  Recommending SBS 2011 for 3 email accounts is professional fraud IMO, sorry for being so blunt).
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38782992
I know what you mean dlenthe about the professional fraud ;-) But i'm installing and configuring the server for less than 600 $. I've have no problems with the current server 2003 over 10 years. So I guess it's cheaper to have exchange installed on a server for  let's say 2000$ than letting my customer per 600$ a year...
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38782997
@ cpmcomuters : dell disks cost 230$ here. Thats fraude imo ;-)
I'll be informing for dell without disks or supermicro server :-)
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 166 total points
ID: 38783014
Felipe911 - Understood, you're being frugal trying to give the customer what they want. But we both know customers are sometimes wrong.   Really you need to tell them they have to spend more money on 2 enterprise disks and pay it all up front, or outsource for a monthly fee that will ultimately cost them more money.

Then it is their decision, and you can sleep at night knowing you gave them all the info they need to decide.  I've made the mistake before (more than once) of letting a customer talk me out of doing something the right way because of budgetary constraints.  

It isn't pretty when a worst-case scenario happens on underconfigured systems. I would have been better off walking away from the deal.  If you bless the wrong config, get something in writing explaining the consequences with their signature.
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38783050
I trust that comment about professional fraud was not aimed my way ?
I'm not selling anybody anything - so not making a bean from this and no intention of.

As I stated above "Assuming a hosted solution is not preferred"
The questioner has made it plain they are looking for options for an internal solution on a limited budget. I think we have collectively provided sound advice from which they can make an informed decision.

Yes SBS for so few users is a high price per seat and the outsourced route offers a means to offset the capital expenditure (though this will be somewhat academic after next year)

Some clients do not like the outsourced route wishing to retain local "ownership" of their own data and some have issues with the security and data protection disadvantages of "cloud" services.

I have clients with three users that have grown to 45 users over the past two years, and this also would perhaps change the perspective of the advice given.

I presently maintain 35 SBS clients many with SBS2003 who are each looking at the sbs/cloud landscape in the light of the demise of SBS next year and are considering their options going forwards. In each case i will give them a balanced picture of both services from which they can make an informed choice.
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38783059
Dlenthe: the customer now has 15 GB of mail. How could this be brought to the cloud?
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by:cpmcomputers
cpmcomputers earned 334 total points
ID: 38783073
You would either upload it via broadband or more likely send them the initial files on a disk

Hosted exchange/cloud providers would not see that as a problem
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by:dlethe
ID: 38783235
My "professional fraud" was not aimed at anybody, but it did get the attention I was going for. Sometimes experts/authors need a wakeup call to be reminded that experts are experts because they know the right ways to do things ... and experts need to have the courage to tell a client "NO" when the client asks for something that they know isn't the right way to go.

Don't read anything else into this.
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38783349
Thanks for your expert advice -  I have no difficulty sleeping with the advice i give both paid or unpaid such as on EE - the occasional wakeup call is no bad thing :-)

Cheers
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by:Felipe911
ID: 38783436
??
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by:cpmcomputers
ID: 38783469
Hi Felipe911

Just responding back to dlethe - Good luck with your project
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 38785503
It's not fraud unless they fail to deliver.  The costs involved are more than just slapping a drive in a system. Or slapping ANY component into any system.  Dell doesn't just hop online and get the best price for parts, stick a Dell label on it, and resell it for 5x the price they paid.

What DOES happen is that OEMs like dell spend time certifying that that particular hardware is designed to do a particular job.  And that that hardware will work well with the other hardware in the systems, not just today, but tomorrow, next week, and next year.  (Sometimes there IS fraud - GX270).  Further, the components are "server class" meaning they are tested and rated for higher workloads that support for more (and more intensive) use than "standard" stuff you buy from Newegg.  Dell doesn't want to have to field support calls because the stuff they sold doesn't work together - that would be HUGELY expensive to deal with.  (Again, see GX270).  So things are tested and tested again.  At the end of the day, you are paying for support, for the ability to go to one Vendor (and not have to call Seagate or Western Digital or Super Micro or Adaptec or anyone else) when a part fails and you can't quite tell if it's the hard drive maker, the controller maker, or the motherboard maker - they are one and the same.  I've had Dell replace ALL THREE parts for me on issues because they couldn't narrow it down.  You will NOT get three individual component makers to do the same.

I'm very disenchanted with Dell these days so while I appear to be defending them, consider my comments to apply to HP, IBM, Lenovo, Fujitsu, or anyone else making a server as an OEM and CARING about what they are doing and supporting their customers.
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