Is it time to replace our servers and server OS?

Hi All,

I am IT Manager for a business of 50 employees, spread over 4 offices.

We have two physical servers: 1 with SBS 2008 and Exchange 2007 + 1 Terminal server. Both of these servers are DELL Poweredge 2900 Model and each is 6.5 years in age.

These servers are growing more and more buggy mainly do to OS's having run so long (and hardware slowing as well).

I want to replace with one physical server, and run (3) visualized 2012 Server OS's, Exchange, Domain Controller, and Terminal Services.

It's a bit of a hard sell to company owners but in my opinion the time as come. If these servers were to fail our company could easily be down better part of a week as have to order replacement hardware, and re-build system from scratch.


shood4012IT ManagerAsked:
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AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
I don't think you need High Availability for 50 users. The option you are recommending looks fine to me. However, you can also look for Office 365. With office 365, you will get High Availability by default and other features. Admin efforts maintaining exchange server in cloud is almost NIL. If you go for cloud, you only need Terminal server.

Let me know, if you need more info.
shood4012IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
Owners want 100% in-house, cannot convince them to go to cloud... besides.. We own Office 2013 Open Licensing and plan to use for next several years. Most of our files are autocad and are very, very large.
Larry Struckmeyer MVPCommented:
SBS is a very resilient OS and could probably be rescued or even reinstalled.  To reinstall and bring current with updates would be a lot of work however.  And if the hardware is actually showing signs of age it may very well be time to move on.  For 50 users consider Server Standard with the Essentials role.  This gives you an SBS like dashboard, PC backup, and Remote Web Access aka Access Anywhere.

The Essentials role takes one of the VM's, RDS or Exchange would consume the other.  For O365 then the second box could be RDS or any other role of your choosing.
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
For more proof to present to owners, you can inventory, and report on your existing network, i.e. CPU, network, and disk I/O time, etc. with Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit.  This will give you hard numbers to help decide on hardware. Install it on a workstation and let it run for a few weeks or so.

If you are a Dell shop, ask your Dell supplier for a copy of DPACK Collectors, which is similar to MAP Toolkit.

About DPACK Collectors
Dell’s Performance Analysis Collection Kit or DPACK is a point in time performance capture technology donated to the community by Dell, Inc. to promote awareness of actual compute performance needs, specifically as it applies to understanding physical or virtual server workload performance at the individual machine, workgroup, or datacenter level.

DPACK’s “Collector” supports the many-to-one monitoring of the most popular operating systems in the market. The unique logic provided in the program gives you the ability to look at performance at the individual drive level, simulate the effect of combining workloads, or even evaluate cloud candidacy.

The collector is non-invasive, will make no modifications to your environment, and only runs for the duration you choose.

The result is unique data insight that helps remove ambiguity when running your Data Center.
AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
If you are keeping one server and keeping DC, Exchange and Terminal Server all on one server. You have a single point of failure. If your customer is okay with that risk, you can goahead with one server.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I don't think you need High Availability for 50 users.

In my opinion, this is NOT the way to judge if a company needs high-availability.  It's a economic argument.  

Would you tell an accountant with 1000 clients and 50 employees that they don't need high availability during tax season?  If that server goes down at the wrong moment they and their customers could face serious financial losses.  At the same time, a construction company may be able to just fine for a day.  What the business does and needs determines the need for high availability, not the user count.

When management won't listen, you need to make an economic argument illustrating how much can be lost in productivity and business in the event of a server failure.  

In short, in my opinion, yes, it's time to replace things.  Office 2016 (Outlook 2016) won't work with Exchange 2007.  The Exchange 2007 web access is horribly antiquated.  I would definitely migrate away from that at this point.  Hard disks WILL fail... not a question of if, it's a question of WHEN.  And 6.5 years old are closer to death than birth - and like human death, you can't generally predict it.

What to replace it with, I would go with two physical servers, ABSOLUTELY virtualize, and then consider DFS, Windows Clustering, or Hyper-V replication to ensure you have a way to guard against failure.

Honestly, you know your business better than we do, but if you don't fully understand the licensing and technological capabilities, then you should use a consultant to advise you on solutions and potentially implement something that can enhance the business... otherwise, you could overspend and under utilize your investment in the future.

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