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Time to consolidate... Need advice for hardware

Last response: in Business Computing
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March 25, 2011 6:19:50 PM

I originally posted this in the systems > New Builds area but with WR2's suggestion, I've also added here in the Business Computing area. Sorry for the cross-post, mod's if you would, please delete the previous post.

Time for a new server!!

So I am following the forums guidelines, please see below :D  :

Approximate Purchase Date: Next month or two.

Budget Range: Up to $10,000 for everything. Hardware, Software, etc.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: DC/DNS, SQL, Application, File/Print, Web, Email, Fax, XMPP,

Parts Not Required: Rack, UPS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Dell, HP, possible whitebox (newegg)

Country of Origin: NA

Parts Preferences: by brand or type: Killer Intel processor, lots of ram

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: NA

Monitor Resolution: 1024x768 would be sufficient

Additional Comments:

Below is the current setup and what I want to do.

Server 1
-------------
Processor: Intel P4 2.4GHz
Memory: 1GB
OS: Windows 2000 Server
Responsibilities:
- Domain Controller
- DNS
- Application Server
- SQL (SQL Server 2000)
- File Server
- Print Server

Server 2
--------------
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2GHz
Memory: 1GB
OS: Windows Server 2003
Responsibilities:
- Web server (IIS)
- Email Server for the online payment system
Note: This server is not part of the domain, but has a user to read the SQL database on "Server 1" for an online payment system.

Server 3
----------------
Processor: Intel Xeon 2.8GHz
Memory: 1GB
OS: Windows Server 2003
Responsibilities:
- XMPP Server
- Fax Server
- Secondary Email Server
Note: This server is not part of the domain

I have these three aging servers that I would like to consolidate into one physical box. I don't really want to convert what I currently have into VM's, since they were here before I was and I want to start from scratch so I know exactly what is going into them. I would like to get one powerful box, and break it out into 4 Windows Server 2008 VM's. One would be used for the Domain Controller, DNS, Application, File and Print server. The second would be used just as a web server using IIS - which I have to use as that is what is required by our application vendor. Third would be just the SQL server. And the fourth would be used as my XMPP, Fax, and email server.

The DC would obviously be part of the domain since its controlling it. I would keep the web server, and the xmpp/fax/email server outside of the domain, preferably separated from the domain with a firewall. Is it best practice to keep the SQL server outside or part of the domain?

Just to give you an idea of what I'm working with, it’s a business with 10 workstations, all in one building. Each is constantly using an application which queries the SQL database, all day, every day.

The planning stage is in its infancy at this point, but with has been stated, am I on the right track? What would you recommend for hardware for something like this? Any other advice, recommendations?

Much appreciated,

Daniel

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July 26, 2011 2:00:19 AM

Daniel,

To be honest, I dont recommend one box!
See, you have all your major things running only into one box, the day it decides to let you down which I hope doesn't happen, you will want to pull off your hair like a crazy guy.
I would have recommended you to have a backup bdc and the SQL on another box, the day one is dead, you can still work it out.
You will just need to promote your BDC, also just do a proper backup for your SQL database and for the rest as well.
Also, 4 Gb is not sufficient on a VM, believe me!! Because it will turn out to be extremely slow with all the four server running at the same time!
I can understand your concern financially, but doing from scrach needs a good planing in case of a DRP as well.

Up to you as it is just what I would have done being in your shoes.

Cheers
Kevish
August 17, 2011 7:28:14 AM

HEY, apparently you need some software to help you manage your SQL.
To be honest, database and sql stuff are always tough question to me.
But nowadays a lot of software companies release products to make the question simple.

I always believe in Acronis and Paragon, they are the top leader in the field, that's why they are not cheap.
But some inexpensive software can also solve those problems nowaday, like TODO BACKUP, they are easy to use and contain a lot of impressive featues.:-D
Hope I can help.
Here is the link for more information about SQL management tool:
http://download.cnet.com/EASEUS-Todo-Backup-Server/3000...;1
Related resources
August 17, 2011 2:13:53 PM

I'm not a fan of keeping everything on one physical box, but you could probably do it. I would keep some spare parts on hand, like power supplies if that's the route you go. Dell R710 servers are working well for me. I'd go with (2) quad-core Xeon's and at least 32 GB or RAM. SQL is a memory hog so I would assign it's VM the most. DC's can get by with 4 GB if that's all they are doing. Get at least one dual-port NIC so all of the VM's are not using the same physical interface.

I would find some way to backup data off-site too. Something like a Barracuda backup device would work well in a small company. The device backs everything up and keeps a copy on the cloud as well. VMWare ESXi is free and works pretty well. You could also use Hyper-V running under Server 2008 R2 Core but it requires more memory than VMWare.
September 1, 2011 11:37:41 AM

To be honest, a single server with 12-16 GB of memory definitely meets or exceeds the requirements. In my experience, HP or Dell servers are very reliable and they rarely fail, particularly when they are connected to a UPS. Other than hard disks, I haven't seen one failure in the last 10 years. There only are 10 workstations, therefore the servers can't be very busy.
October 12, 2011 9:35:33 PM

I also have to agree that a single box is not the way to go, if one piece of hardware goes down, then everything goes down including sql, mail, domain, etc.

Standard practices usually say that you keep your corporate IT separate from your business applications. So you should have one server as your DC/DNS and e-mail (and with a small cheap server back-up on the DC just so everyone can continue working if it goes down, e.g. use one of your old servers as a back-up domain controller) and then a second server for your db, web server, business e-mail server.

More importantly than trying to consolidate servers, do you have a decent back-up and firewall? Personally most business I talk to worry about their servers going down for a day than saving a few bucks on electricity by consolidating servers. Just my 2 cents.

If I was in your shoes, I would look at 2 physical servers to separate the core corporate and the business transactions and then look to secure them with back-ups and firewalls, either with new boxes or re-use your older machines with something like untangle or pfsense to protect and do back-ups.

-S
!