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New Small Business Server Build (Hardware)

Last response: in Business Computing
May 11, 2011 1:33:37 PM

Hey guys,

Currently our office has been chugging along with a Mac OSX server as our primary server, although the majority of our boxes are Windows....We are finally making the transition back to a Windows server, Server 2008. Due to a low budget we are reviving a HP Server that has been used as as desktop.

My main question is what do you recommend for the amount of RAM and harddrive space/RAID config for this server? We average around 40 nodes that will be using this machine primarily for file/print/active directory purposes.

If you need more info please let me know.

Thank you.
May 11, 2011 3:17:44 PM

Ram is cheap. Max out the HP box unless its ECC in which case, 8-12 at the very minimum.

I cant say your storage requirements however, if you chose raid (1/10) just keep in mind its not a backup solution, just a quick recovery solution. If you do heavy file serving, it would be worth while to invest in 10k RPM drives (affordable vs 15k SAS).

I may be over zealous on the ram. ECC is expensive so adjust accordingly.
May 11, 2011 3:55:05 PM

What's the HP model?
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May 13, 2011 8:46:43 PM

How new is the Mac Server? You realize you could use bootcamp and install Windows on it if it's 10.5 or newer? Also, you could grab vmware server, a ton of ram for the mac, and virtualize a windows server on it.
May 16, 2011 2:58:39 PM

The Mac Server is only about a year old now, and virtual would be the way to go, however, it is a Mac Mini and I don't know how efficient it would run as a primary mac server and windows server. Although, I will look into using it as a backup/virtual server once the primary is running.
May 16, 2011 4:33:37 PM

Either way, if you use bootcamp, I think you can also run windows natively on it. Might perform better than the old server, if you don't mind dumping the mac OS. Couple of ideas.
July 4, 2011 6:02:25 AM

Scratch doing ANYTHING with the Mac. I've used Mac minis before and for OS X web browsing, email, office, etc...they're great. Even decent Win 7 boxes but, it Isn't a stable server. Would you run your environment of a laptop? Probably not, that is all a mac mini really is.

Can you give us the specs of your HP unit? If it's too old, you may be better to stick with what you have and find money for a proper server. If you have 40 nodes, you really should have a solid, dedicated server. Does the HP have a backplane of any sort? Depending on what you are hosting get some used SCSI drives (10,000RPM) and set them up in RAID 1. Also, choose one of your nodes and stick 2 1.5TB Seagate ES drive or WD Enterprise Series drive (Both of those are good, reliable HDD's. I don't want to advertise for either of those exclusively though.) Also in RAID 1 and do nightly backups to them. That way you should have a backup in case something happens to your server. I would actually recommend a NAS solution but those are more expensive and it sounds like you are crunched already.

Depending on what you are doing, I would look into 8GB of RAM. That shouldn't be too expensive, ECC or not, you should be able to pick up a decent deal on refurb. RAM or used RAM. Check eBay. (Not the best place but on a budget, you can get great deals). Install Server 2008 on a drive NOT included in your RAID. Image your server 2008 drive once it's configured and place that image on your backup (either your NAS or your makeshift backup server of 1.5TB drives)

Please post back with your information. We should know what you are looking to use this server for. What the specs on your current server are, and your current plan and roadmap for this server. I would recommend to decommission it after a year or 2 because it isn't going to be all that great. Reliability is key for a server and that sounds like something lacking from ANY of the setups you run.
July 5, 2011 3:51:39 AM

I guess the other question is this a mac mini or full blown X-Serve?
July 8, 2011 10:11:37 PM

ohiou_grad_06 said:
I guess the other question is this a mac mini or full blown X-Serve?

As stated in the second post, it's a mac mini. Not an X-serv. If it were an xserv, it wouldn't have Intel processors. Apple didn't release any Intel core x-serv units to mass market.
July 9, 2011 9:37:19 AM

Uhm, think you may be wrong on that. I used to be Apple certified, and it seemed like in the school system I worked at that we had that. Anyway, sorry, I must not have read correctly. In that case, yes I definitely concur, use the HP. Though the mac could still make an ok file server if you use some external drives with it.

But as for the intel model xserves, pretty sure I'm right on that, I know we used quite a few.

But I was thinking the op might be using the Xserve, in which case it'd be worth sticking with, on the idea of a mac mini, yeah, move on, let it serve up files to offload work from the HP and be done.
July 12, 2011 12:25:46 PM

Apple Enterprise systems are so bad that their now discontinuing them. That speaks volumes.

What are the duties of this server? Are you using it as a central file storage system, a web proxy, or just for single sign on / authentication? Windows SBS or CentOS are both powerful systems depending on what you plan to do. Obviously Windows SBS costs money, but it's easier to setup and configure then CentOS. How comfortable are you with Unix* and the command line?
July 14, 2011 4:28:54 AM

I guess Apple made something like a handful of Intel Xserve units. As posted, Apple's enterprise gear was never all that successful (yes, a lot of schools use them but they also don't upgrade regularly in general) anyway. But that's really not the point. Also, I work with a school district and Apple pretty much went with Mac Pro's instead of Xserve's due to easier space constraints.

But, can we hear back from the OP? We're looking for information regarding your HP server...and will gladly help and explain necessary items.