60 users over 2 sites

Hi I am going to see a new client in a couple of weeks.  They want to change the way that they work.  They have two sites where they both have independent domain controllers and one of them is the exchange server that they use solely for emails.  By the sounds of it they replicate data across the two sites, which obviously is not ideal.  They need to be able to access data across two sites going forward but want to upgrade their hardware as well as looking at possibly installing a lease line as one of the sites is slower on broadband.  Need a solution going forward is domain controllers best way still or should I be looking at hosted email service plus terminal server ?

Looked at igel technology as well.  Any comments would be great.

Thanks Chris
chrishoy-iisAsked:
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Brad GrouxSenior Manager (Wintel Engineering)Commented:
They sound like ideal candidates for Office 365 for email, which starts at just $8 per month per user. There really isn't a need for hosting in-house exchange for anything other than large to enterprise businesses anymore.

With that said, they'd probably still need domain controllers at each site that replicate with one-another.

For centralized file sharing a scale-out file server with DFS replication would probably be the best bet. You can make the DCs file servers as well, but obviously that isn't best practice - but generally acceptable in small business cases.

DFS is a great choice because it is included with the license for server, and it allows you to setup replication groups which allow granularity in how and when replication occurs. This is ideal for usage scenarios where network throughput may not be optimal.

Another option for file storage may be OneDrive for business, it all just really depends on how much data they have.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
There was never a need to EVERY host exchange in house - 20 years ago, we were all getting our mail from POP3 servers hosted by our local ISP "in the cloud" before the internet was called the cloud.  There was never a reason to switch... except everyone got enamored with the idea of hosting their own mail.

Frankly, I disagree with Brad in concept.  There are occasions where office 365 makes sense... but... "There really isn't a need for hosting in-house exchange for anything other than large to enterprise businesses anymore."  This is wrong in my opinion.

They have two sites where they both have independent domain controllers and one of them is the exchange server that they use solely for emails.  

So to be clear, the site with the Exchange Server - is that running Small Business Server?  Or it it running Server with Exchange (there's a difference, so please be sure you are accurate).  And are the DCs in the same domain or different domains?  Is there a trust (there cannot be with SBS, but you could have them both in the same domain).

By the sounds of it they replicate data across the two sites, which obviously is not ideal.  
What data?  How?  Why is it not ideal?  WAY too little information here.  Are they replicating databases?  Word Docs?  DFS is a great idea... but depends on what the data is that is being replicated.  JUST AD information?  

They need to be able to access data across two sites going forward but want to upgrade their hardware as well as looking at possibly installing a lease line as one of the sites is slower on broadband.  

You definitely need more information to know which way to go.  What is slower broadband?  Does one have a 50/25 Mbit connection and the other on T1s?  

Need a solution going forward is domain controllers best way still or should I be looking at hosted email service plus terminal server ?
I think you really need to provide more information before you can get a good answer.
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Cris HannaCommented:
I agree with Lee W based on certain assumptions.  Again is one site running Small Business Server ?  and if yes, which version?
Lots more detail please
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chrishoy-iisAuthor Commented:
hi all,

my apologies the customer took a while to come back to me and i had already sent some questions over before this was answered.

ME: 1.Could you find out how much data you have overall in the whole of the company? Just docs that are worked on over both servers very roughly doesn't have to be completely accurate.
 
To the best of my knowledge:
•      Server 1 is in the north and has about 1 Tb of data, this is the e-mail 2008 exchange server;
•      server 2 is in the south and has no more than a few 100 Gb of data;
•      The servers are not connected, they do not replicate because line speeds in the north are too slow.
•      We also have 2 x 9 Tb NAS, one in the north and one in the south.
 
 
2. How many mail boxes are there overall in the company.
 
About 35 mailboxes
 
 
3.  I remember you saying there is one server at each site.  I think you said they are both domain controllers is that right?  And both domain controllers are on windows small business server 2008 with exchange running on one of them ?
 
server 1 north is the main beast,  server 2 south is just for storing local files and logon authentication.
 
Would you be averse to looking at a lease line for the offices in the north ?
 
Absolutely not, have two quotes already. Just not sure whether we should do north only or do North and south in one foul sweep (surprisingly there is no fibre in the cabinet via BT in central London yet, you can lease a commercial line as an alternative.)

Can anyone shed some light on what you think would be best moving forward for this company as perhaps a cloud solution of some kind or should they invest in the lease line etc?

comments and ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Chris.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Unfortunately, I don't think that helps all that much.

It tells us how much data at both sites, but it doesn't state if it's largely static or if a large amount of data frequently changes.  It also doesn't answer the important question I asked - is this SBS or Server with Exchange?  If they don't have good internet connections than I Office 365 wouldn't be ideal especially for that amount of data and depending on how they use it.

If they want/would like the data to reside at both locations (I like this idea for off-site redundancy / disaster recovery) then the type of data (Database, files, etc) and frequency of change is important.  

Sorry, but we still need a lot more information for a remotely good answer in my opinion.
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Larry Struckmeyer MVPCommented:
Agreeing, mostly, with what has already been asked.  Will volunteer that imo it does not matter a great deal if the server in the main office is SBS or not.  One question that has not been asked, unless I missed it, is:  Is the office with the fastest, or potentially the fastest internet connection also the one with the most users?  I would lean towards a TS in the main office (the one with the most users and fastest internet connection I hope) and the remote users working via RDP.
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chrishoy-iisAuthor Commented:
hi,

Thanks for your comments.

the client has decided that he will be putting a lease line at both sites.  Sounds like he wants secure hosted exchange throughout.  He also wants to put existing files, around 1.1TB in to the cloud as well.

I am thinking Citrix sharefile for this, what are your thoughts?

Cheers
Chris
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Larry Struckmeyer MVPCommented:
Thoughts?  Well I think putting data in the cloud to be accessed by the local LAN or traveling systems can be a good thing or a bad thing.  For example, if you are discussing a database app running an SQL app where the queries are all run on the server in the cloud and only the results are returned to the user it "might" be a good thing.  If you are discussing engineering apps such as Solid Works loading 1 GB assemblies to the local stations over any internet connection I would consider that a bad thing.

As LeeW pointed out, you have not given enough information.  What kind of data?  How is it used?  How often is it addressed?  What is near line data and what is archived?

BTW, for users in office b, where the exchange server is not, Exchange will appear to them to be "in the cloud" if they use Outlook Anywhere.
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chrishoy-iisAuthor Commented:
gone for this thanks for your help!
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