Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Small buisness server upgrade advice

Last response: in Business Computing
Share
February 3, 2013 2:24:10 PM

Hello All,


I've recently started working for myself and I need a bit of advice on servers for one of my customers.

They are moving to a new building and at the same time they are looking to upgrade their IT systems.

Aside from email which is now on Office 365 the most business critical piece of software is Sage 50 Accounts.


Current Setup

At the moment they have two servers, one is running SBS 2003 and the other Server 2008.

The SBS 2003 box is pretty much just a file server as the email side of it has been migrated to Office 365. It's a HP Tower with an Xeon 3065 (2.33GHz), 4Gb RAM, and two 250Gb HDD configured RAID 1.

The Server 2008 box is being used for hosting Sage 50 Accounts (flat file store, no proper database), it's an older machine with a Pentium E2180 (2 GHz), 4Gb RAM (I think!), and two 80Gb HDD configured RAID 1.

The Server 2008 box was set up as a temporary measure when we were having problems with SBS 2003, the performance increase for Sage was massive so it just stayed. It doesn't have any backup or a UPS. Sage is backed up every day through the software.

There are 9 Windows 7 Client PC's, 5 are in the Offices and are regularly used. The other 4 are used occasionally used throughout the day.


Proposed Setup

The IT guy at their end has been talking to a 'HP Server Expert' who has recommended the following machine. This is going to be running Server SBS 2011 Essentials or 2012 Essentials for File/Fax/Printer Sharing along side AD, DNS etc.

The Server 2008 box will be staying for hosting Sage 50, and due to the money being spent on the new server it will remain without a UPS. It should be automaticaly backed up by Server 2012 Essentials.


Server Spec

1 x HP ProLiant ML350p Gen8 E5-2609 1P 4GB-R P420i Hot Plug 6 LFF 460W PS Entry Svr
1 x HP 750W Common Slot Gold Hot Plug Power Supply Kit
1 x HP ML350p Gen8 Intel Xeon E5-2609 (2.40GHz/4-core/10MB/80W) Processor Kit
2 x HP 4GB (1x4GB) Single Rank x4 PC3L-10600 (DDR3-1333) Reg CAS-9 LP Memory Kit
3 x HP 1TB 6G SAS 7.2K rpm LFF (3.5-inch) Dual Port Midline 1yr Warranty Hard Drive
1 x HP 512MB P-series Flash Backed Write Cache
1 x HP RDX1000 USB3.0 Internal Disk Backup System
1 x HP RDX 1TB Removable Disk Cartridge
1 x HP 3 year 4 hour 13x5 ProLiant ML350(p) Hardware Support

Total Cost: Nearly £5000


Obviously this is a very decent spec server but my opinion is that it's going to be massively under used. It pretty much blows the budget and doesn't even leave enough money for a UPS for the second server. I also think it's pretty crazy leaving Sage 50 on an ageing server.


My Proposal

So far I have made 3 proposals in the following order all of which have been met by a brick wall.

1) Use the new HP Server with Server 2012 Essentials for the Sage 50 file sharing along side sharing the company files, AD, DNS. In theory as Essentials hasn't got the overhead of Exchange/WSUS/Sharepoint I'm assuming Sage 50 will run OK, this needs testing.

2) Two lower spec but brand new servers one for Server 2012 Essentials and the other for running Sage 50.

3) Use the new HP Server for virtualising both servers using ESXi or Hyper-V.


All ideas have been met by a brick wall and I'm starting to doubt myself!

I really would appreciate any feedback on the situation. Do you think the new server is overkill? Would you leave Sage 50 on the oldest and most underpowered PC in the building? How would you spend the £5000?


If you need any more information please just ask.


Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any replies, I know it was a long post!

Paul.
a b α HP
February 3, 2013 2:56:03 PM

Hi :) 

Talk to SAGE support FIRST....

All the best Brett :) 
February 3, 2013 3:08:51 PM

First thing I would recommend is, regardless of what they decide, get the servers on some sort of UPS. If I've read correctly, it looks like the Server 2008 box basically just has the Sage 50 files on it and not anything Sage-related installed? If so, I would plan on migrating that to the new server. If there's some Sage software installed you probably do want to keep that separate from a DC.

So if it's just files, I would just set the new server up with ESXi and start off with one guest with a big data partition. I am not familiar enough with te Server 2012 Essentials version so I can't speak of how well that will run. It sounds like you just need a DC and file server so I couldn't imagine you would have any problems with the new hardware.

I'd also review the backups while you're at it. There's some great imaged-based solutions available now. We use one called Shadowprotect for our clients and it takes image backups of the servers and incremental image backups every hour. If a server fails, it can spin up those backups for them to use while their production server is being repaired.

So I'm not as familiar with the hardware but just keep in mind that you're just looking at a DC and file storage and that doesn't require particularly high end specs. You can always leave the Sage 50 server in place and maybe plan on doing a P2V sometime in the next year or two. Otherwise, I would recommend migrating the data to the new server.
Related resources
February 3, 2013 3:09:46 PM

Hi Brett,

Thanks for the advice, I will have a talk with Sage.

I have migrated Sage from PC to PC several times without issues, its more a question of what hardware would be best.

Thanks again, Paul.
February 3, 2013 3:30:03 PM

Visa,

The current SBS server is using an APC UPS (750va I think) that has recently had the batteries replaced. The UPS has a USB connection to the server. They have suggested using the one UPS for both the new HP server and the old Sage server, I'm not sure if it can trigger shutdown on both servers as it has no network connection, I'm also not sure if it will power both servers for long enough for shutdown to complete.

The Sage software is installed on the server but doesn't run. It is only installed to facilitate upgrading to the new version once a year as it converts the files. It could be uninstalled after the upgrade.

I completely agree that starting out with ESXi would be a good idea, even if there is only one VM running on it at first. As you said migrating the other server to it at a later date would be an easy job.

I steered clear of suggesting virtualisation at first as I was fairly sure what the answer would be!

I have suggested image based backups but as the RDX1000 Internal Disk Backup System has it's own software I think we will be forced to use that. Hopefully that will be up to the job!

Thanks a lot for the reply, you comments have been much appreciated, Paul.
February 4, 2013 1:38:04 AM

First off, for the best cost benefit I would NOT recommend going with the HP Gen8 server that they have recommended for your needs! Yes, the ML350p G8 can be a huge server and great quality, I just installed one at my dad's office recently. However, it's not a good fit for you I believe especially given the cost of Gen8 hard drives.

I'd recommend starting with a fully loaded HP ProLiant ML110 G7 server instead. You can order these servers with an Intel Xeon quad-core hyper threaded 3.4 Ghz processor, and load it up to 32 GB of RAM (officially supports 16GB but I have read several reports of 32 without problems.) I'd also recommend purchasing a dedicated hardware RAID controller for better reliability and performance, like the HP P410/256MB or P410/512MB SmartArray cards.

The benefit here is you can use non-HP hard drives and just put them into HP hard drive caddies. This will save you a huge amount as HP Gen8 hard drives are absolutely ridiculously expensive. I'd suggest two 15k SAS drives in RAID1 for your OS and virtual machines, and another set of 1TB or 2 TB 7k SATA drives in RAID1 for your data storage to be either attached directly to your DC/file server, or create VHD files as necessary.

Instead of Server 2012 Essentials, I'd recommend looking also into Server 2012 Standard. It is more expensive, but you can utilize virtualization to help improve the functionality of your system. Yes, this means you can create one virtual machine to act as your domain controller/file server/print server, and a separate virtual machine to run your Sage software. All of this is included in a single license of the Server 2012 Standard so it is a pretty good value. Now you have better performance and reliability for BOTH your servers and all you are purchasing is one physical server. This means you can also run your system on your existing UPS, and back up everything from one physical system as well.
February 4, 2013 8:55:11 AM

Morning Choucove,

Thanks a lot for your detailed reply, It's fantastic that you have had first hand experience with the HP Gen8.

Thank you for the recommendations your thoughts are pretty much in line with mine.

I think we will be sticking with Server 2012 Essentials as it will be much easier for them to manage in house.

With the cost savings from buying the HP ProLiant ML110 G7 we could purchase two of them, one for each function.

Thanks again,

Paul.
February 5, 2013 7:15:47 PM

visa said:
We use one called Shadowprotect for our clients and it takes image backups of the servers and incremental image backups every hour. If a server fails, it can spin up those backups for them to use while their production server is being repaired.


Visa, thank you for the great comments about ShadowProtect. We always like to hear unsolicited comments from happy customers.

Spicy, if you'd like to download the full-featured trial of ShadowProtect or any of our other award-winning backup and recovery tools, please click here. We're confident that you'll agree this is a must have tool for all your DR needs.

Cheers!
February 5, 2013 7:18:27 PM

stevesnyder said:
Visa, thank you for the great comments about ShadowProtect. We always like to hear unsolicited comments from happy customers.

Spicy, if you'd like to download the full-featured trial of ShadowProtect or any of our other award-winning backup and recovery tools, please click here. We're confident that you'll agree this is a must have tool for all your DR needs.

Cheers!


Will ShadowProtect work with the HP Backup solution?

Paul
February 5, 2013 7:32:52 PM

Quote:
Will ShadowProtect work with the HP Backup solution?

Paul


Hello Paul,

ShadowProtect 5 runs on Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 as well as previous versions of Windows. ShadowProtect 5 also supports EFI/GPT and LBD, so you can backup and restore to the newer hardware standards on physical systems. In addition, our Hardware Independent Restore (HIR) technologies will allow you to easily recover/migrate to new hardware or virtual environments.

ShadowProtect 5 supports Microsoft's Hyper-V, VMWare, Oracle's VirtualBox, Citrix XenServer, and Redhat KVM environments. You can quickly virtualize a recovery point in your backup chain as a VM. You can also install ShadowProtect on your VM's to create image-based backups of the running VM at the client level as well as the physical host level if necessary.

In short, yes, we work very well with the HP Backup solution.

Cheers!
!