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What's the difference between a server build and a PC build? - Page 2

post #11 of 20
@OP

The main difference between a server build and a PC/workstation build is the usage requirement, and the hardware spec list follows the requirement. For example, a workstation will have a 27" flat panel screen and a high-powered graphics card, a server won't. A server will be housed in a rackmount case, a workstation won't.

The universal requirement of a server is that it serves as central point for data, or a central access point for a service such as printing or a web application.

For your client, obviously you're looking at a file server. Since this is for your client's business, I suggest ECC memory and therefore an Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron CPU. Being a fileserver, you don't need a hugely powerful CPU or gobs of memory (unless you're using ZFS filesystem).

I suggest a SuperMicro motherboard which supports the CPU and RAM.The storage topology should be either RAID 5 or RAID 6, depending how much capacity you need and how many drives are involved. A low-powered Xeon and 4GB of RAM will suffice, but if you choose to run a non-windows OS, you could probably get away with 2GB (unless your running FreeNAS with ZFS).

OS-wise, you have many choices. If the server is to be used exclusively for file storage, then something like FreeNAS, NexentaStor or OpenFiler can be used. If you want more generalised capabilities, then Windows Server 2008 R2, RedHat Enterprise Linux 6, Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS, or SUSE Enterprise Linux.

The biggest thing here is support (i.e. what happens when things go wrong). Hardware wise it's safer to go with a brand label such as HP or Dell, but if you choose to build it yourself then use as few names as possible to minimise incompatibilities. For example:

CPU: AMD or Intel (duh!!)
RAM: Kingston or Crucial
Motherboard: SuperMicro
Storage Controller: On-board or SuperMicro
Storage: Western Digital RAID Edition or Hitachi UltraStar
Network: On-board, Intel or SuperMicro
Case: SuperMicro

By the way, what's the budget?
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post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunmetalz View Post

The server would handle e-mail, backup each employee's personal work files (~ 500 GB of data) as well as hold all of the business' CAD project data (~1 TB currently, grows as projects are added).
There are 10 employee computers on the network, each of which will need access to the server. Not sure what "network load" entails, assuming you mean trafficking between server and client. If so, the employees currently leave their stations at night and the server backs up the data overnight for them to work the next day and repeat the process. About 100 - 150 GB of data are transferred overnight. I doubt it takes very long.
My client has requested remote access, but their current server allows for remote access and they are comfortable with using one for local data and the other for remote data.
I am doing this as a learning experience. This client trusts me personally and understands that I have never had experience with servers before. I requested this project to get my feet wet so that I can add servers to my portfolio and to increase my revenue in the future. I will be performing this task for free in return for this opportunity. Any additional information you would like to add would be appreciated, as you seem to know what you are doing. Thanks

LOL, I know enough that I don't want to do business servers smile.gif.

If your doing it to learn and the client understands that, that is great, but make sure you have everything backed up.

A good start is what are they currently using for their server needs? If they are happy with what they have and are looking to upgrade from that it does make it easier to figure out.
Edited by blupupher - 2/17/12 at 10:44am
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post #13 of 20
Yup, servers are just specialized computers designed and built around its required task(s).


i.e. A Xeon is considered a server-targeted CPU. If you server does not require long-term availability and higher operational temperatures, you may not need one for your server.
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post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by parityboy View Post

@OP
By the way, what's the budget?

They weren't specific on a budget, so I am going to present a suggested build on Monday and get their approval / red X

In the past, they wanted a PC for employees that was cheaper than dell, who they had a contract with for PCs before me, but still had the power to run these CAD design programs that they sent me specs for. The biggest concern was professional-looking cases, and easy to replicate because the business is growing. I came back with a $800 build that supplied all of the required needs, and they jumped on it. Dell's equivalent was ~$3500 more expensive, and the employees preferred my models.

Now after building all of their employees new PCs, they want a server. So I am assuming the same applies. Professional - looking, cheap solution from Dell, with the capacity for expansion. I simply don't know which direction to take so far as software and RAID configurations, as well as other safety requirements for servers. This needs to not only be more reliable than a PC, it has to last longer. That scares me.
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post #15 of 20
Oh I must have missed where you said it was for a business. I thought it was a home server redface.gif

In that case don't use WHS
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post #16 of 20
Well if they want a server from Dell, that's easy. Dell R510, job done. Off you go then...tongue.gif
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post #17 of 20
parityboy suggested RAID 5 or 6
Never, EVER go RAID 5, if you have two disk failures in a row, then you lose all your data. RAID 6 has slightly more redundancy, but its still a bad idea. Always plan for the worst case scenario, else it will happen. Stick with RAID 1 or 10(if access times are crucial)

just my 2 cents
Edited by lin2dev - 2/17/12 at 4:33pm
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post #18 of 20
@lindev

If people never backed anything up you'd have a point regarding RAID 5 or 6, but if people never backed anything up AND the RAID array is for a business, those people are officially IDIOTS.

RAID 5 and 6 are fine for their intended use case, i.e. read-mostly file service. For more balanced read/write performance, RAID 10 is your best bet which is why people choose it for databases, but storage-wise it works out quite expensive for the storage space you get, and that's when hard drives were cheap...

Tattoo this inside your eyelids: "RAID is NOT a backup." smile.gif
Edited by parityboy - 2/17/12 at 4:51pm
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post #19 of 20
True, true....but really, who says they're going to do daily/ tri-weekly backups and actually do them for a few years tongue.gif
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post #20 of 20
Most companies wont put something like a home built server into a production environment for good reasons. Primarily a server from a major brand like comes with the warranty and customer service which keeps downtime to a minimum. If you build this are you ready to be on call 24/7 should this server go down? I dont doubt your ability to build the server but when something fails and you go through the RMA process (which may take weeks) can they handle the server being down for extended periods?

Do they have any sort of in-house IT staff which could take some of that pressure off of you for figuring out their hardware needs?
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