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Small business server specs check

post #1 of 24
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Seems to be a few spec check threads popping up lately. Perhaps we can help each other.

I've posted on a few different sites with varying results, but I know we can do better. Afterall this is my main tech forum for a reason.

My company (under 15 employees) wants me to look into us getting a server to act as a central file server running active directory, Exchange 2010, and Sharepoint, which leads me to aim towards Small Business Server 2011 since we don't have an IT department or even person (me I suppose), and it eliminates the need for a second computer to run DNS. It'll also run Kaspersky Enterprise Space and would be behind a Sonicwall TZ-180 firewall.

This is the route I would love to go. It's the most performance that we could actually use assuming increased workload in the future. The minimum spec look a little different, but my concerns apply to both.

What we'd get from Dell:
Dell R510 Rackmount server
Eight hot-swap bays
Dual Xeon E5620s (overkill, but a second proc is pretty cheap)
No ram assuming that they'll allow it (online configurator won't)
PERC H700 512MB controller without NVDIMM (I'll make sure it has the latest firmware)
No hard drives assuming that they'll allow it (online configurator won't)
No OS (won't sell SBS 2011 until late March)
750W Redundant PSU
iDRAC6 Express (eh, why not?)
2x Intel PRO gigabit ethernet (in case one fails)
Internal DVD-RW drive

What we'd get separately:

2x500GB Seagate nearline SAS drives in raid1 array for OS
4x600GB Seagate 15k RPM SAS drives in raid10 for files, Exchange, and Sharepoint
1x1TB Seagate nearline SAS global hot-spare
16GB Kingston 1333MHz RDIMM ECC
SBS 2011, Office 2010, and Kaspersky from respective reps

So the questions are:
Will anything in this setup not work?
Specifically, will there be any problem with the RAM or hard drives including hot-swap ability?
Opinions about nearline SAS vs regular SAS in this application?
Anything specific with Dell that we should be aware of (someone told me that when they ordered a server without a gfx card, they didn't even bother to solder on the mount either)?

Random thoughts welcome as well.

Thanks guys. As always, you're awesome (/shameless butt-kissing).
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Tismon7
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post #2 of 24
Seems like to have a rackmount as that would be fairly expensive considering you only have one server and it is mainly a file server at that. You could build your own server, with hot swap bays even, much cheaper unless money is no object. Sometimes though I know getting the software inexpensively is half the battle and that's why people go with pre-builts.
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post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by losttsol View Post
Seems like to have a rackmount as that would be fairly expensive considering you only have one server and it is mainly a file server at that. You could build your own server, with hot swap bays even, much cheaper unless money is no object. Sometimes though I know getting the software inexpensively is half the battle and that's why people go with pre-builts.
Whiteboexes not recommended for businesses, lack of support... #1 problem is if your server dies, then what?
post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsmoke View Post
Whiteboexes not recommended for businesses, lack of support... #1 problem is if your server dies, then what?
Ya, normally I would say the same thing, but it's only one server and he's the one building it. He also won't get that same level of support once he puts in a different OS than what the manufacturer spec'd.
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post #5 of 24
If you read the OP it states that he does not have an IT department so what happens when the server goes down? Who do you call? Geek Squad?
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by losttsol View Post
Ya, normally I would say the same thing, but it's only one server and he's the one building it. He also won't get that same level of support once he puts in a different OS than what the manufacturer spec'd.

If he installs a different OS, he's still entitled, at the minimum, to hardware support - which is what you really need anyways. That's where your compatibility issues are.

Software support can be obtained on a pay-per-use basis. Dell would also be more than willing to sell managed-server support.

Besides, how often do you change OS on a single server?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tismon View Post
Seems to be a few spec check threads popping up lately. Perhaps we can help each other.

I've posted on a few different sites with varying results, but I know we can do better. Afterall this is my main tech forum for a reason.

My company (under 15 employees) wants me to look into us getting a server to act as a central file server running active directory, Exchange 2010, and Sharepoint, which leads me to aim towards Small Business Server 2011 since we don't have an IT department or even person (me I suppose), and it eliminates the need for a second computer to run DNS. It'll also run Kaspersky Enterprise Space and would be behind a Sonicwall TZ-180 firewall.

This is the route I would love to go. It's the most performance that we could actually use assuming increased workload in the future. The minimum spec look a little different, but my concerns apply to both.

What we'd get from Dell:
Dell R510 Rackmount server
Eight hot-swap bays
Dual Xeon E5620s (overkill, but a second proc is pretty cheap)
No ram assuming that they'll allow it (online configurator won't)
PERC H700 512MB controller without NVDIMM (I'll make sure it has the latest firmware)
No hard drives assuming that they'll allow it (online configurator won't)
No OS (won't sell SBS 2011 until late March)
750W Redundant PSU
iDRAC6 Express (eh, why not?)
2x Intel PRO gigabit ethernet (in case one fails)
Internal DVD-RW drive

What we'd get separately:

2x500GB Seagate nearline SAS drives in raid1 array for OS
4x600GB Seagate 15k RPM SAS drives in raid10 for files, Exchange, and Sharepoint
1x1TB Seagate nearline SAS global hot-spare
16GB Kingston 1333MHz RDIMM ECC
SBS 2011, Office 2010, and Kaspersky from respective reps

So the questions are:
Will anything in this setup not work?
Specifically, will there be any problem with the RAM or hard drives including hot-swap ability?
Opinions about nearline SAS vs regular SAS in this application?
Anything specific with Dell that we should be aware of (someone told me that when they ordered a server without a gfx card, they didn't even bother to solder on the mount either)?

Random thoughts welcome as well.

Thanks guys. As always, you're awesome (/shameless butt-kissing).
As a Dell reseller... I wouldn't advise getting too many things separately. You should look around for a reseller in your area and see if one of them can give you a better deal than what the online configuration tool gives you. I can tell you flat out that you just have to shop around.

I've deployed SBS 2011 for internal testing. You don't need SAS drive for it. Much better to go with 8x1TB SATA drives in RAID-10 and just leave it at that. Your organization isn't big enough to require SAS drives, really. WD-RE4 1TB drives are what you'd get if you bought them from Dell, so you can just buy those separately.

I would also actually go with hypervisor-based virtualization solution. Granted, it's SBS, and it's got all the roles integrated, but you should still have a second domain controller for redundancy for your active directory roles (i.e. Global Catalog) and DNS server. You can do this easily with a virtualized environment.

iDRAC6 Express does NOT give you out-of-band management if you're looking for remote console support. If you don't get iDRAC6 Enterprise, you really should also consider the hypervisor solution, just in case you need to do a hard-reboot of the server - it becomes just a matter of rebooting a virtual machine.
Edited by ComGuards - 2/24/11 at 7:34pm
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post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ComGuards View Post
Besides, how often do you change OS on a single server?
He said in his first post that he was just going to get the server and put his own OS on it when it came out.
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post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by losttsol View Post
He said in his first post that he was just going to get the server and put his own OS on it when it came out.
You don't get OS support unless you pay for it separately anyway. And you can buy support for any OS you would (should) consider installing.

OP - whereas I would still suggest you get a server for local files, as you are in a small company and you have no dedicated IT department Google might be a better bet for your email requirements rather than running Exchange yourself. What happens if Exchange falls over when you're on holiday?
post #9 of 24
Hopefully then he will get you to wade through the tech support bs he will get the first time be calls Dell with a different os.
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post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Wow, I wasn't disappointed. Thanks for all the quick replies.

To address a few things:

1. The rack mount is really just the bosses' preference since they believe that it would fit better in the tiny space that they want to put it (still decent airflow though) and still gives room for adding another later on if needed. Plus, it seems that the H700 is only available at that level or higher, which adds support for self-encrypting drives (which is something they'd like) and better performance. It does add to the cost some, but it's not a deal breaker for them.

2. As for the drives, I suppose you're right ComGaurds, but I have another idea. The concept of the nearline SAS drives is essentially SATA platters, spindle, and head with the SAS interface and I'd assume motor to get a 24/7 runtime with slightly better speed and IOPS than SATA at about 1/3 the cost of true SAS drives. What about just using those in the whole setup (4x 1TB Seagates in raid10 instead of the Cheetahs)?

3. For warranties, we'd have Dell hardware support on everything but the hard drives and ram we'd place in (already looked into it), which the Seagate drives have a 5 year manuf. warranty and the ram a limited lifetime manuf. warranty. Both with decent companies to work with. SBS 2011 is really the only area that we might have trouble covering. I am downplaying my abilities some (because I don't want to become the dedicated IT person), so I can handle a fair amount of issues (though hypervisor is new territory), but I'm still planning on speaking with the local vendor that we currently use for e-mail to see if they offer a per-visit service. Though their last quote for a server was a few years ago, it was an overpriced and badly spec'd IBM with an extra $1200 for just being the middleman.
@ losttsol, we'd get it with no OS loaded and put SBS 2011 on it from a MS rep that's suppose to get us a package discount. And what bs? That we didn't get it from them or are you assuming that they'd not be able to support an OS that they'll be selling in late March?

4. Mostly @ the _beast. Definitely a possibility and worth looking into. Any opinions on this route? I'm guessing it's not going to be push-email, but is it free?

This is exactly the info and critiquing that I need. Thanks and keep it coming!
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Tismon7
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