Small Business Server Advice

kebabby

Standard Member
Hi all,

Wondering if anyone can help me. Sorry for the long winded biog.

We have a small ecommerce business (turnover £2m), currently 4 employees soon moving to 7. We are relocating to new premises (by end of month) and thought it time to have our own sever. Cabling has gone in already.

Currently, we just use a WORKGROUP with 4 PC's running a combo of W7Pro/64, XPPro32 and Vista64 on a Netgear Gigabit ethernet. Email is hosted on our Rackspace website server.

Main software used is Outlook, XL, Word, Quickbooks Pro 2004 and internet browser. Main point of server is for printers, accessing Quickbooks, PDF, Word, XL files and images. Main requirements is fast access to Quickbooks, currently 3 but moving to 5 users.

All PC's are to be built on W7Pro/64. We have built one to test and copes admirably, spec:
Crucial Sport 8GB Kit Ballistix 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-12800
Intel Pentium G2120 Dual Core Processor
ASRock B75 Pro3-M Motherboard
Samsung EVO 840 120GB

We are considering Office 365 and will probably move to Sage 50 in the very near future.

We have had various quotes in from server suppliers but have just found out that if we can wait until January we can recover 20% of outlay from local council for relocating to their area.

Therefore, I have decided to build a temporary server to last until January and wondered if the specification is sensible based on requirements and financial outlay being minimal as it is unrecoverable. No point spending a load of money now if it costs as much as the 20% saving.

My suggested Spec.

WHS2011 (£40)
Gigabyte GA-MA770-UD3 770 Socket AM2+ (Salvage from old system)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3GHz Socket AM2 2MB L2 Cache (Salvage from old system)
8GB (4x2GB) DDR2 1066MHz/PC2-8500 XMS2 Memory CL5 2.1V (Salvage from old system)
UPS (£?)

I am considering using 4 new Raptor HDD's with software RAID to build 2 x RAID1, one for OS, one for DATA. We will have a USB backup to an external RAID1. I am still researching Hardware RAID controller benefits and it looks like Hardware is probably more likely due to change of motherboard and compatability issues. Although I realise I can build a new RAID from a backup so not immediately esential.

So, what am I asking? Is this all sensible, achievable or pie in the sky. We have no previous server experience so no-one to manage it. I can build PC's, I can network PC's using windows. I am willing to learn but short on time.

Example of quote for sever.

1 HP PROLIANT ML310 E31270 SERVER £650.00
1 16GB MEMORY KIT £250.00
1 ADAPTEC RAID CONTROLLER £150.00
2 1TB HARD DRIVE (O/S) £100.00
2 4TB HARD DRIVE (DATA) £350.00
1 APC SU750VA £250.00
1 WINDOWS 2012 FOUNDATION SERVER 0/S 15 USER £200.00
1 INSTALLATION £1000.00
Total £2950.00 + VAT

Thanks

John
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Have you considered one of HP's Microservers...? They can be sourced for only a few hundred pounds and all you'd need to do is add discs (and maybe some RAM) and the O/S. They've been quite popular as NAS's (in the loosest sense on the term) with AVF'ers.

The advantage being that you will know the hardware is going to "work" thereby saving you the heartache of hardware integration issues (and you'll have a single point of contact, ie HP, if there are any problems.) They can also be purchased with "care" packages for on site support etc.

Basic document storage and retreivable for such a small number of users shouldn't be too taxing.

APC make a range UPS's and load levels right from single desktops up to entire server racks and beyond. Their web site used to have a "configurator" which knew about lots of equipment so you could tell it what you had, the standby run time required and it would recommend you some suitable devices. I've always found their support people very helpful too.
 
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kebabby

Standard Member
At the moment I havent looked into Microservers, none of the companies we have spoken to have quoted for them. As we now have until January to make a decision, I'll spend a bit more time looking into it.

For now I just need to get the interim server up and see if that will work for us.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I was suggesting a microserver as your interim solution. Though TBH for such as small number of users, if you are only doing basic doc storage and retrieval, you might find that it's good enough anyway.
 

cjed

Well-known Member
For a small business server the IBM x3100 M4 looks to be current "best value", takes more memory and faster CPUs than the HP G7 Microserver.

Your biggest problem is that you don't have anyone (apart from yourself) to manage one. The HP PROLIANT ML310 example quote didn't look too bad, although I don't think you'd need the extra RAM or RAID controller for your application. The on-board controller supports RAID 1. The quote doesn't cover any kind of backup - which is essential.

OS Software and how you organize your PCs is key - moving to Windows Server 2012 and Domains is a quite different beast to managing Windows Workgroup PCs. It might be better (and a LOT cheaper) to stick with Workgroups (i.e. WHS 2011). I'd use the on-board hardware RAID for the OS install (you can't boot from software RAID), but software RAID for the Data (much more portable).
 

kebabby

Standard Member
Thanks for the advice. I've ordered a copy of WHS 2011 to play around with on the system I've built. It will probably give me an idea whether its manageable or not.
 

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