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Need help... upgrade or new server?

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  • Need help... upgrade or new server?

    Here's our situation-

    We currently have SBS 2003 running on a Dell PowerEdge 1800. Dual 3.2Ghz Xeon's, 2GB of RAM, and a RAID-1 with 73GB Hard Drives (SCSI of course). I'll assume those are the key spec's needed, if any other specs are important, let me know.

    Our network currently has about 15 users on it, and I expect that within the next 3-4 years, a maximum of 5 more may be added. I dont see us going over 20 users anytime soon.

    The SBS server currently runs Exchange, acts as a file/printer server, and also runs Symantec Anti-Virus Corporate Edition as well as Veritas Backup Exec 9.1. We use OWA, and I'll occassionally VPN in from home, but not frequently. Oh, and we also run WinAmp which handles our music on hold for the telephone system.

    I now want to add an email archiving software, MailArchiver by GFI, which will require the use of SQL (Workgroup Edition of SQL 2005). This MailArchiver program itself uses minimal system resources. SQL is of course a different story.

    I am thinking of adding another 2GB of RAM (to have a total of 4, the max allowed by SBS 2003), and a second RAID 1 (two new hard drives dedicated to the exchange store, as well as the emails archived). I could also do a RAID 5 setup if that's somehow more efficient?

    Our exchange store is currently about 12GB in size, and we have another 15GB or so of PST's that will be migrated to the archive system. I except about 2-3GB per year added to the size of the archive.

    Will these hardware upgrades be sufficient? Or am I starting to load up too many services and going to experience network reliability/speed issues?

    Our technical support company has highly recommended we get a second server running Windows Server 2003 Standard, and use that as a member server and migrate over some of the services... but that would add another $6k or more in cost and will be very difficult to get approved by the company.

    On one hand, I have issues of a budget constraint, on the other hand, I dont want to overtax our server by running too many processor/memory intensive services, and by all accounts, SQL is memory intensive.

    Any thoughts, suggestions & comments are greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Need help... upgrade or new server?

    Tough nut you have here... My first impulse was to tell you "Go get another machine". You'll get some load balancing between your processes and some fault tolerance capabilities (if you'll need it).
    But then, the price issue...
    I was in the same spot some time ago, when I looked for an upgrade or an upscale of my TS farm. I asked one of my suppliers to lend me a server, with the specifications I wanted to test, for a month. During this month I installed and configured the server as I wanted (first only with 2GB memory, afterwards added another 2GB...) and tested it.
    Can you do the same thing? Can you get a server from someone, install everything on it and test it? The production services might be a problem, but installing on it the new software can give you a better picture about the whole process.
    Of course, you can always opt for the simplest option (memory upgrade) and show the people with the money that it wasn't enough. I myself don't like this approach, it's more suited for kids in kindergarten (I know, sometimes our managers act like this) and not professional enough.
    What do you think?

    Sorin Solomon

    In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.


    • #3
      Re: Need help... upgrade or new server?

      Does SQL server 2005 comes with your Premium Edition of SBS? If it does, then you have to install it on the same computer, otherwise (if you have to buy a new license) you can install SQL server on the same or on a separate computer.
      You do not have a lot of users using the resources of one server, and you running Windows SBS, that is why I would prefere trying it all on one computer to save budget.
      On the other hand SQL server and Exchange server both like to convescate a lot of memory of the computer, that is something to take care off;
      Configure memory settings in Windows server advice:
      for SQL server:
      for Exchange server:


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      • #4
        Re: Need help... upgrade or new server?

        Thanks for your replies.

        Unfortunately, the option of testing it with two servers for a while is not available to us. We're kind of in an all or nothing situation.

        Additionally, if we stick with 1 server now, and then realize we need a second server later, we're going to incur about $3k to $4k of extra cost veruses just going with 2 servers now, as we're going to have installation, migration, setup issues.

        We currently have SBS 2003 Standard, which does not come with SQL. But I can upgrade to the R2 Premium version for $299 and then, for only $699 additional, can get SQL 2005 Workgroup edition with all the CAL's I need. So in essence, getting SQL with all the CAL's will cost only $1,000 (veruses around $4,000 if I go with the second server option. In the sceneario with 2 servers, we would be runnning Windows Server 2003 Standard, and I would have to purchase licenses for SQL seperately).

        I guess the key question is: Will 4GB of RAM be sufficient to run SQL, Exchange, and SBS? (And Veritas Backup Exec and Symantec Anti-Virus).

        My gut feeling is... maybe. Veritas only runs at night, where there is almost no activity with exchange. The email archiving would also be done at night, and I could set it so that it never runs simultainously with Veritas...but of course, all the services would still be loaded and active 24 hours a day.


        • #5
          Re: Need help... upgrade or new server?

          Firstly, excellent first post, really well done. Good info!

          Second, moving to SBS Forum for Steven's opinion.
          Joined: 23rd December 2003
          Departed: 23rd December 2015


          • #6
            Re: Need help... upgrade or new server?

            FWIW, I have yet to find a 20-user system stressed on the kind of hardware you have. I once dealt with a 40-user system which had a home-grown badly written SQL database - so it was resource hungry.
            Have you seen on your current system any of the workstations running slowly or not being able to process what they require? I feel if you go for the 4Gb of RAM and some extra disks you will have more than enough horse power to do what you want.
            An upgrade to R2 then Premium will give you extra licensing benefits for an additional server in the future should choose that road. Versions before R2, then you would have had to buy Win2K3 server, SQL server AND ALL THE CALS for SQL - an expensive business. Buy R2 and you only need the server licenses.
            However at this stage, I feel your SBS is strong enough with the enhancements you suggest.

            Steven Teiger [SBS-MVP(2003-2009)]
            Im honoured to have been selected for the SMB 150 list for 2013. This is the third time in succession (no logo available for 2011) that I have been honoured with this award.

            We dont stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.


            • #7
              Re: Need help... upgrade or new server?

              Teiger, thanks for your input.

              You are correct that if we go to the R2 release of SBS 2003 then we are in a position for a significant savings for the SQL licenses.

              Right now, our system is not being taxed very much at all. Exchange runs all the time and our store.exe file typically takes up about 400mb to 650mb of RAM. I've yet to see it grow larger then that (though I know it could).

              Everything else uses minimal resources. Veritas Backup Exec runs around 1am each night. Symantec does its updating and scanning at various times but rarely uses up much RAM or processing power. The other services running also use up minimal resources.

              I think that with the input I've recieved here (and if anyone else wants to add in their 2 cents its always much appreciated), I will stick with a single server and throw SQL on there. Here's to hoping we dont have massive problems!