Setting up a New Server - Seeking general advice, tips or recommendations

Our business has two 5 year old  PowerEdge  Dell 2008 Servers.  A Domain Controller  with AD  and a  SQL Application Server with approx 20 full time users.  
  As part of our disaster planning our director authorized the purchase of a  single new Dell Server as a COLD SPARE machine.

After consulting with Dell Server support on the overall hardware requirements for existing and future growth  we received our new unit yesterday.  Its a Dell T430  ,   2012  R2 Standard with 64 GB or RAM ,  3 TB of Hard Drive space. ( Raid 1 for C and Raid 10 for SQL)

I suppose we could have purchased two of the above with half the specs and made it easier to setup but thats water under the bridge . I will make it  a EMERGENCY COLD SPARE that combines both of the above Servers into one , keep it in a separate building, and have it ready for a building disaster ( we back up to the Cloud) in a few days at the most.

For better or worse I am beginning the "build - up " of this new Server 100 miles away from our main building so would only have a VPN client to create a Virtual LAN connection when needed.  

Today I simply unpacked the Server, and am testing the RAM. HDs. Updating Windows, Admin password etc and contemplating ROLES to add,

What I am looking for is , recommendations, gotchas, tips etc as I being this process.  Perhaps something like, "oh you should VPN in to the LAN and configure the new one as a BDC ( Backup Domain Controller) or the modern equivelent of BDC and that will take care of your AD sync.  

We have a Application vendor for our SQL server and that will be a whole other issue with licensing a cold spare etc but that will come next as long as I dont foul up the system with missteps..

Any thoughts appreciated.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
What I'd do is put everything in the new server and use the older hardware as spares. AD doesn't play nice with cold spares. AD is a living breathing item. Software and hardware is just a capital expense.  Data is what a company lives on.That is something that has to be replicated / backed up on a fairly frequent basis. As long as the data is available one can spin up cloud based servers i.e. Azure/S3 (Amazon S3's SQL server pricing is atrocious compared to Azure SQL Pricing.. Was doing some troubleshooting for an EE member and forgot to remove an S3 Sql instance and got a bill for $700 for a month of non-usage.

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Does it need to be a "cold spare"?

I would recommend ShadowProtect as a DR tool. It can send your backups to your new server and it also has the ability to boot the backup files into a virtual environment.

They also have a cloud backup solution so you don't even have to have your own hardware.

In both instances though, all you would need is a VPN connection to the DR site. If that is software based per computer or hardware based it won't matter.

This would also get around the licensing issues you mentioned as it would just be a backup of you original server.

Make the new server a Hyper-V server then P2V your existing domain controller and SQL server onto this server.  Snap shot the servers on a schedule
Now take one of you older servers, the best one, and also make it a Hyper-V server. Push the SQL server snapshots over to it on a schedule.
Make the other server a backup DC and use DFS to keep the file shares in sync.
Now if any one of the servers go down you could recover fairly quickly.
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azpeteAuthor Commented:
I am review the three great comments so far and have the following to add:

ShadowProtect for two servers is $2100, and is out of our reach reach, ( too bad for me)

Once I build it up it can be connected over a Site to Site VPN so AD might be able to replicate that way and the SQL backups can also be imported regularly.

HOWEVER The P2V idea may be a really nice approach.  Can you followup with some more ?  For example would you recommend Microsoft or VMware ?
Wouldn't the snap shots be sufficient,  I don't want to mess with the existing SQL machine too much.....
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Snapshots are not a long term solution.  I only use them for testing.. take snapshot.. try something out.. roll back or delete snapshot .. Hyper-V works and works well and you can't beat the price.
What backup system do you currently use? You mentioned you backup to the cloud.

How can you restore these backups? You may be able to get away with using ESXi on the new server hardware and having it as a "cold spare" if you can restore the backups to a VM.

It's all going to depend on how critical your data and services are to the business.
How much is the company going to lose with 1-2 days offline while you restore the data to a server vs the cost of software to be capable of being back online within 30 mins.

There are ways to do what you want at no cost, but they are not ideal.

P2V Physical to Virtual conversion
Setup your new server as a Host at your primary location

Actually only convert the SQL server to virtual server on your new server.
Spin up a new virtual DC on your new server.
Reimage your physical SQL server to a DC.
Use DFS to replicate the files between DCs
Do the initial sync while they are next to each other
Once completed you can move the server off-site (old sql server, now a DC with DFS)
Have the virtual SQL server backup the databases on a regular basis then copy those to a DFS share during off hours.
Now you will have copies of you database at both locations along with copies of your file shares
FYI, AD and SQL should not be setup on the same server instance
You should keep the two servers seperate
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