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Small Business Server

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July 20, 2005 4:21:30 PM

I'm purchasing a small business server and I've decided to go with a dell after looking at all the posibilities from building myself to all the large vendors.

This server will be running Win Server 2k3 and running Timberline Accounting on it.

System Requirements:
http://www.sagetimberlineoffice.com...qs/default.aspx

I've customized a server on dell that i believe fits my needs but I'd like to take any suggestions or make sure that there are no conflicts with what I specified.

Server:

Changed a few things:

PowerEdge 2800:
FREE UPGRADE to Intel® Xeon™ processor at 3.0GHz/2MB Cache
Additional Processor:
FREE! Intel® Xeon™ processor at 3.0GHz/2MB Cache
Operating System:
Windows 2003 Server, Standard Edition with 5 Client Licenses
Memory:
2GB DDR2 400MHz (4X512MB), Single Ranked DIMMs
Chassis Configuration:
Tower Chassis Orientation
Bezel:
Active ID Bezel Option for Tower Configuration
Hardware Support Services:
3Yr BASIC NBD: L1 Hardware Queue, Next Business Day Onsite M-F 8am-6pm
Installation Support Services:
No Installation Assessment
Hard Drive Configuration:
Split Backplane, Drives att. to RAID card, RAID 1, RAID 5; 5 drives req
Hard Drive Backplane:
2X4 Hot-Pluggable Split Backplane,PE2800
Primary Controller:
PERC4eDC-PCI Express, 128MB Cache, 2-Internal Channels
Primary Hard Drive:
73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
2nd Hard Drive:
FREE UPGRADE to 73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
3rd Hard Drive:
73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
4th Hard Drive:
73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
5th Hard Drive:
73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
Tape Backup:
PowerVault 100T, DAT72, 36/72GB, Internal, TBU, With Controller
Tape Backup Media:
DAT72, Formatted Tape Media Cartridge, 5 Pack
Network Adapter:
Onboard NICS
Dell PowerConnect Network Switches:
Dell 2224 Unmanaged Switch, 24 port FE, 1Yr NBD Advanced Exchange Service
Power Supply:
Redundant Power Supply, No Y-CORD
Floppy Drive:
1.44MB Floppy Drive
CD/DVD Drive:
8X DVD-ROM
Keyboard:
Standard Windows Keyboard,Gray
Mouse:
Logitech PS/2 2-button Mouse with Scroll
Monitor:
Dell E773 Monitor, 17 inch (16.0 Inch Viewable), Gray
Documentation:
Hard Copy Documentation and OpenManage CD Kit
Technical Sales Representative Contact:
Yes

Total: $5,599

I also would like to take any recomendations as to what variation of win 2k3 server version i should purchase, standard, premium, small business etc... And I'm not sure if I need to purchase enchange server + licenses seperately or if that comes with win 2k3 server.

Thank You.

More about : small business server

July 20, 2005 5:49:05 PM

None of us are going to be huge fans of you buying a DELL. Fact of the matter is that you can build a better one yourself.
Related resources
July 20, 2005 5:58:40 PM

wusy could give you good ideas for a server if you decide to build it yourself.

<b><font color=blue>If you try to please everybody, nobody will like you<font color=blue></b>
July 20, 2005 5:59:07 PM

the "link" you gave doesn't really work, as its incomplete.

Without even a clue what it will be used for, its hard to give any sensible advice. And even if you gave a clue, scaling of such a server is really out of our realm without a very good idea as to the load, load type, uptime requirements, rack/space requirements and what not.

In fact, in general this is not the place to get advice for buying corporate servers, most of us here are just enthousiasts that have vastly different requirements.

Lastly, if you need to ask.. I wonder.. are you the right person to make the purchase ? No offense really, but just an honest remark.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
July 20, 2005 6:39:19 PM

Sorry Sorry, I copied my post from another forum that didn't get any responses.

As for building my own, I started that way and the people at anandtech.com tore me apart... making comments like dont quit your day job and why would anyone ever want to build an unreliable server like that, and urged me to buy from a large distro. While I would have no problem building my own I will not be the one who runs this server, so I believe that buying from a large distro that has onsite support would be a good idea.

http://www.sagetimberlineoffice.com/software/sys_reqs/d...

As for me being the right person, we've dealt with more qualified people to make this purchase and every single one overquoted us by an extreme margin, (for a one CPU 2.8ghz Xeon we got quoted $12,000).

At this point i've really decided what we need and if this is good enough, I just want to make sure everything I picked is either compatable or there are no large problems to be seen with it. The things I'm not sure about are the tape backup and the RAID controller. SCSI isn't something i've dealt with in the past so its the only thing i'm finding confusing.

I'll say more in a little bit but I'm kinda busy at work right now and need to get something sent via UPS in the next 25min so i'll leave you with that for now.

Thanks so much.

P.S. I've decided to go with 4GB DDR2 instead of 2GB, and this company only has 6 employees.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by darkcube on 07/20/05 02:40 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
July 20, 2005 6:55:29 PM

I dont like Dell's. IMO the best server of that type are Compaq,...now HP.


Asus P4P800DX, P4C 2.6ghz@3.25ghz, 2X512 OCZ PC4000 3-4-4-8, MSI 6800Ultra stock, 2X30gig Raid0
July 20, 2005 7:22:04 PM

I can't vouch for Dell's servers, but they sell well, so they must have something resembling quality...

As for the specs...
4gig RAM is a good idea.
dual CPU is plenty of power - CPU won't be a bottleneck, thats for sure.
I'm going to guess the drive config is 2x73gig mirrored for the system disk and 3x73gig in raid 5 for data. Is that right? That's a lot of space for businesses.
According to Timberline, the data disk is good for probably 10 yrs accounting data and some 2 million+ scans.
The backup is a good standard solution - be sure you get or it comes with the appropriate backup software, Veritis, Dantz, etc. Another option, which may be less expensive (those tapes aren't cheap) is to get a series (3, 5, whatever the backup cycle will be) of external USB or Firewire (depending if the server has firewire) hard disks and use those instead of tapes. Might not pass corporate muster though (just like buying IBM was always safe, tapes are 'always safe'), and you have to be careful not to drop them when you take them off-site.

Performance should be fine (I doubt you'll hit 25% utilization even with a full load of workstations). For even better performance, upgrade the network to gigabit, or at least put the server on a gigabit uplink from the switch.

I agree with Anand's forum - for a server, get something someone else built and tested, you need the uptime and can't spend time troubleshooting - users need to be working.

Mike.

<font color=blue>Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside the dog its too dark to read.
-- Groucho Marx</font color=blue>
July 20, 2005 7:39:19 PM

I would also recommend upgrading your support options. I don't know how much downtime you can afford. :smile:
July 20, 2005 9:16:37 PM

fishmahn, you've been by far the most helpful person i've talked to :) .

Yes, the system is configured RAID-1 for sys and RAID-5 for data, and I know thats alot of space but dell doesn't offer smaller drives unless they're 15,000 rpm. I was considering putting the system on 2x36 15k SCSI's because they're the same price as the 72 10k ones but i'm not sure if the space or the speed is better. I'm thinking speed now that you've said it.

Updated:

PowerEdge 2800:
FREE UPGRADE to Intel® Xeon™ processor at 3.0GHz/2MB Cache
Additional Processor:
FREE! Intel® Xeon™ processor at 3.0GHz/2MB Cache
Operating System:
Windows 2003 Server, Standard Edition with 5 Client Licenses
Memory:
4GB DDR2 400MHz (4X1GB), Single Ranked DIMMs
Chassis Configuration:
Tower Chassis Orientation
Bezel:
Active ID Bezel Option for Tower Configuration
Hardware Support Services:
3Yr BASIC 4Hr 7x24: L1 Hardware Queue, 4-Hour 7x24 Onsite
Installation Support Services:
No Installation Assessment
Hard Drive Configuration:
Split Backplane, Drives att. to RAID card, RAID 1, RAID 5; 5 drives req
Hard Drive Backplane:
2X4 Hot-Pluggable Split Backplane,PE2800
Primary Controller:
PERC4eDC-PCI Express, 128MB Cache, 2-Internal Channels
Primary Hard Drive:
73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
2nd Hard Drive:
FREE UPGRADE to 73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
3rd Hard Drive:
73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
4th Hard Drive:
36GB 15K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
5th Hard Drive:
36GB 15K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Hard Drive
Tape Backup:
PowerVault 100T, DAT72, 36/72GB, Internal, TBU, With Controller
Tape Backup Software:
Veritas Backup Exec Server and Workgroup Protection Suite
Tape Backup Media:
DAT72, Formatted Tape Media Cartridge, 5 Pack
Network Adapter:
Onboard NICS 13
Dell PowerConnect Network Switches:
Dell 2324 Unmanaged Switch, 24FE+ 2Gig ports,1Yr NBD Advanced Exchange Svc
Power Supply:
Redundant Power Supply, No Y-CORD
Floppy Drive:
1.44MB Floppy Drive
CD/DVD Drive:
8X DVD-ROM
Keyboard:
Standard Windows Keyboard,Gray
Mouse:
Logitech PS/2 2-button Mouse with Scroll
Monitor:
Dell E773 Monitor, 17 inch (16.0 Inch Viewable), Gray
Documentation:
Hard Copy Documentation and OpenManage CD Kit
Technical Sales Representative Contact:
Yes

$7,551

I'm not sure if the 4hr support is necessary, 1day support isn't really awful, I'd like to find out how to get a spare HD from dell though, it appears that I cant get any more if they aren't put in the machine itself... :-/

Also if you know anything about 2k3 server and exchange server and the user licenses and what i would need thats extremely appreciated :) 

Thanks sooo much.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by darkcube on 07/20/05 05:26 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
July 20, 2005 9:38:59 PM

Why would you buy the extra HD from Dell. Just buy one for cheaper from Newegg.com
a b à CPUs
July 20, 2005 9:41:46 PM

Installation/configuration of the system. If he gets from Dell, then the server comes ready to go and has support. If he gets the HDD himself, then he has to install and then be concerned about warranty...

__________________________________________________
<font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
July 20, 2005 9:44:20 PM

well what you say about newegging the HD is true, wasn't thinking about that, was trying to get the same exact model as it comes with but anything with the same speed / size would do. I'd like to have an extra 72GB one incase it fails and I need to rebuild the array, it wouln't be inside the case.
a b à CPUs
July 20, 2005 9:48:06 PM

One of the reasons to get a Dell is the support. Why should you buy the spares if Dell is on the hook to repair the system?

Don't get me wrong - I understand the need for speed in repairs, but it seems a waste of money if the part will just be in storage.

__________________________________________________
<font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
July 20, 2005 10:02:46 PM

actually that makes sense, if a drive dies they should have to replace it not me... i was told by the anandtech people i should have either a spare or a cold drive running incase of failure, but if i have 4hr onsite support they should replace it for me. Thanks :) 
July 20, 2005 10:05:14 PM

Yeah... I see it as a little bit of wasted money as well. If it crashes in the middle of the day some day you can just shoot down to the local hardware shop and pick one up. And if it doesn't fail then you never had to buy in the first place. It takes less than 1 hr for me to get from the office to the comp shop and back. I can sacrifice 1hr of downtime to save the extra money.
July 20, 2005 10:09:53 PM

great, i guess i have the hardware all picked out then, i'm still not sure as to what 2k3 server i need, and exchange server... would standard or SBS edition be best, i really dont know... i'm not sure on how they are different either, i guess i'll have to look into that more.
July 20, 2005 11:25:52 PM

Honestly, i'm not sure exactly what the server is going to be used for... I know they're running accounting software on it, I know it will be used as a file server, and an application server for some stuff. They will run an exchange server on it... but other than that i'm not sure. I've never had bad experiances with dell, nor good ones, actually i've never bought a computer from a vendor before so this is kinda new :) .

I think I've found pretty much all the info I needed, thanks guys, I'll keep you informed if anything happens.
July 20, 2005 11:57:50 PM

no, but i dont expect the business to upgrade anytime soon, current server is like a 33mhz novel machine that runs nothing...
July 21, 2005 12:18:16 AM

BTW, in raid5, you have lots of redundancy, so if a drive does fail, you can wait a long while before replacing. For that NBD is fine.
July 21, 2005 6:51:54 AM

If it were me, I would call up the HP rep, and ask what he could do for me.
I sure wouldn't want to buy a xeon setup right now though. Since we haven't heard that the dual cores will fit on current boards, I suspect not. Would you want to tell the people that just spent a wack of money on a new server, that it's not scalable?
Get an opteron setup, because it's just better, and then say, "oh, by the way you can double the number of cores, and not have to pay extra for most software licenses.
Cant do that with a Dell.
July 21, 2005 2:27:04 PM

Do some research on the different server versions <A HREF="http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/o..." target="_new">here</A>, but basically:

Server Std. = basic server Will run that acctg/document system just fine.
Small Business Server = basic server + stuff preconfigured for small businesses like exchange server, sharepoint (group collabaration).
Exchange server = Email server (all users use outlook) and calendar sharing. With 6 users, they probably don't need that. With 25, it may be useful.

You'll have to talk to the powers-that-be to decide.

Mike.

<font color=blue>Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside the dog its too dark to read.
-- Groucho Marx</font color=blue>
July 21, 2005 8:31:49 PM

Hi Darkcube

As an owner of a small CPA office (3 of us in total), thought I'd pop in to say that in my experience the software we use in such a business is pretty "light" I mean it doesn't seem to take much computing power or ram to get the job done wonderfully.

We use tax programs and accounting software in addition to word and the usual stuff. I think dual core high or other high-end CPU's are likely overkill. Same with 4gigs of ram.

Rather a good firewall (professional offices do tend to "trade" a lot of viruses in their email), good/reliable daily back up systems (re-creating lost client data is EXPENSIVE) and limited downtime are of paramount importance. NOT uber high-end computing power.

BTW: I've had similar experience with riduculous quotes for seeming crap servers (quote last year reflected PC100 ram in the server WTF???). So I build my own (it's an XP platform, Barton 2500 & 512MB of ram and it more than suffices for our needs. Like I said above, accounting type software is not usually strenuos on a system)

It just occured to me that some of our software providers offer off-site data backup, might inquire whether they're using that. If so, may rethink the the neccessity of redundant backup systems.

Get a very good PSU (PCP&C) and a good UPS too.

Good Luck with the project.

Mobile XP 2600+ (11X215)
Abit NF7-S v 2.0
Maxtor 60GB ATA 133 7200RPM
1 gig Corsair XMS PC3200
eVGA 6800GT
Enermax Noisetaker 420 watts
Win2K sp4
July 22, 2005 3:26:52 AM

get lots of raptors and go raid 0/1 then youll always have a back up
July 22, 2005 3:34:39 AM

Silly rabbit dont you know, raptors are for kids.
Raid5 is a step up from raid0/1, as SCSI UW320 is a step up from raptors.
a b à CPUs
July 22, 2005 10:32:52 AM

ROFLMAO

__________________________________________________
<font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
July 23, 2005 12:39:28 PM

Quote:
holy crap, for that price i would get fx57, and two 7800GTX in SLI......and much more

for a business server that is running accounting software? Are you insane?????
July 23, 2005 2:35:29 PM

Another vote for HP/Compaq. Ive had plenty of experience with Dell, Gateway and HP. HP has very good support and one hell of a support forum. The World Champion Unix programmer calls that forum home and he knows his stuff.

ASUS P5WD2 Premium
Intel 3.73 EE @ 5.6Ghz
XMS2 DDR2 @ 1180Mhz

<A HREF="http://valid.x86-secret.com/records.php?PHPSESSID=792e8..." target="_new">#2 CPUZ</A>
SuperPI 25secs
July 25, 2005 6:04:57 PM

I really don't understand why anyone would buy Intel based server today.
You get more than double the performance with AMD dual core, but you only need same amount of licences from MS and IBM (per socket).
Also it still would consume LESS power than Intel system.

HP has some dual and quad socket systems.

DL 585 even has hotplug capable CPU's (but it's propably an overkill).


<font color=red>"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein</font color=red>
July 25, 2005 9:18:51 PM

Quote:
there aren't many other good Opteron servers out there with good services.
In the long run for a small business lower-end Xeons are a much better choice.

You can buy all the same services for Opteron servers as you can buy for Xeon servers.
You just have to pay for it (for Xeon and Opteron).

So i really don't understand your comment.

Can you give me an example ?

<font color=red>"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein</font color=red>
July 25, 2005 10:06:15 PM

Xeon from HP or Opteron from HP = no difference for services.

<font color=red>"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein</font color=red>
July 25, 2005 11:46:31 PM

>*sigh* You don't think about cost do you?

?

His point is quite true. You can buy Opteron servers from HP, IBM or sun with identical service and support as Xeon servers from those companies, I really dont see your point..what cost ? A dual capable HP ProLiant DL145 starts at $1.600, exactly the same price as a comparable Xeon based DL140.

Its probably true that the cpu performance or upgradeability, etc is not what matters for the original poster, but if you have the choice, you might as well buy the better product for the same price with same service and support.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
July 26, 2005 7:18:24 AM

what *blade servers* ??

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
July 26, 2005 8:27:12 AM

>I meant BladeSystem which is really meant for enterprise,
>whoops!

Do you even know what a bladeserver is ? Surely no one is recommending he gets one for running accounting software... did you mean to say "rackserver" instead ?

>All I know is that in the lower end of servers Xeons will be
> more economical than Opterons for a small company.

certainly incorrect as such. The thing that is true, is that are arent many low end Opteron servers. in fact, pedestal based opteron servers are almost non existing from tier 1 or 2 oems, afaik only Acer is about to release one. So if he wants decent onsite support, if he needs 5 disks (which I personally doubt.. raid 1 with just 2 disks, possibly even SATA would be more than good enough and very much cheaper), he is indeed probably stuck to the Dell/Xeon world.

That said, if his accounting software is licenced per cpu, it might be interesting to compare TCOs even for higher end opteron servers (or sun/hp/boxx/.. "workstations" used as server).


= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
July 26, 2005 11:15:41 AM

You should design the system to your SLA (Service Level agreement).
To determin that you need to know the cost of downtime.
You are going to be running quite a few business critical system on this server.
Email, accounting software, etc.
You need to calculate, how much money you loose per day if the system is down. It can come to quite alot of money, just think of
Lost custom
Inability to invoice
Lost interest at the bank as you can't put any income through the system.
Waste of time (Salary's per day).
Then take the time it would take to rebuild the server if it goes wrong. How long will it take Dell/HP to deliver a new machine, install it and restore the database and roll forward in time, then your accountants will need to verify the data, find out if any data has been lost (database log backup is very important).
If you take this approach, you will find that your server requirements are very different, you may even want to think about clustering.
Then think about scalability. How do you applications scale. Do need more CPU on the same box to scale or can you just add further application servers (upgrade=downtime).
Only then should you think about performance
July 26, 2005 11:52:54 AM

>In my standards all server(big or small) should be mounted on
> 19" racks

Yeah, I agree, but that requires you have a rack in the first place. For small business (like <5 people) that need only one or 2 servers and a firewall/router, that might be overkill

>I just went to check the RRP between DL385(Opteron200) and
>DL380(Xeon DP), surprise the price difference wasn't that
>much!

Actually, the opteron is cheaper. Especially if you configure it with a single, dualcore cpu (which also could help reducing licensing costs and gives you a nice upgrade path). But either system is still fairly pricy and gives you a lot of features he may or may not need. A pedestal based ML150 is over $2.000 cheaper, or half the price when not fully loaded. too bad there is no ML150-style opteron based server

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
July 26, 2005 12:53:08 PM

>...no wonder AMD has over 11% in server market share now

Its rather a "wonder" it isnt any higher actually. For the large majority of (server) apps, the opteron as a cpu/platofrm is simply the best choice, no matter how you look at it: price, performance, features, power, licencing cost, upgradeability.. the only thing holding it back is oem support. Big names are backing it yes, but the product portfolio is still sorely compared to xeon offerings, especially in the low end and the very high end (>4/8 cpus)

The above example illustrates this nicely; the thread starter would 99% certainly be better served with a single dualcore opteron than a 2x Xeon based system, but given the (un)available products, he'll likely end up buying a xeon nevertheless. If oems would support Opteron like they did Xeon, I see no reason opterons would not outsell current xeons.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
!