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Recommended Server

Discussion in 'Windows Server' started by G-Stress, Feb 19, 2019.

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  1. G-Stress

    G-Stress Thread Starter

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    In an enterprise environment what server would you recommend to run windows server 2012/16, SQL, Exchange, Sharepoint, etc. ?

    Basically I'm wanting to setup a practical enterprise environment, in one server via VMware/esxi VM's if possible to really get a good in depth hands on. I have a few servers, but their all older. PowerEdge R200 and IBM xSeries are the beefiest one's I have currently, but I'm really looking at maybe a PowerEdge R710 or greater. From what I last read on SQL and Sharepoint it's recommended to have at least 24GB Ram and 64-bit 4 cores cpu.

    Would it actually be practical to run everything in one server and using VM's or traditional? If not why not (just curious)



    Thanks for any advice/input in advance.
     
  2. lunarlander

    lunarlander

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    If this is just for learning Windows products at home, why do need an expensive rack mounted brand name server? Or do you need to learn the server hardware as well?
     
  3. G-Stress

    G-Stress Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the quick reply.

    I have several server's, but their all older. Due to power consumption I would like to lessen the amount of equipment. I'm fairly familiar with all products, but I wouldn't consider myself advanced and I want to become advanced/expert. I deal with commercial accounts during the day and it will greatly improve my success and skill set. At home I got the NVR box that will remain separate, NAS box that will remain separate and then everything else if possible I will acquire a good beefy server to run, but is that practical?

    Usually when I go to most small to medium businesses they usually have separate boxes for exchange, AD and all. This is probably a dumb statement/question to most of you, but I never understood why have separate boxes, apart from maybe hardware limitations and system resources?
     
  4. lunarlander

    lunarlander

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    To overcome "single point of failure". If one has only one beefy machine running serveral VM's, and that box dies, you lose every VM's function at the same time and the business grinds to a halt.
     
  5. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Despite virtualization being around for many years and being a mature technology, many places still stick to old school practices of having separate boxes for specific functions. There are times where having hardware dedicated for a specific function makes sense. Such as if you have a very large environment. But I would say most businesses will do well to combine everything into a single box where functions are virtualized.

    To overcome the single point of failure, one can set up a secondary VM host box which is there to provide redundancy. VMware has a suite of features which enables this. Chief among them is vMotion which allows on the fly migration of a VM to another physical host while the VM is running. Other tools VMware has are tools which allow on the fly stand up of VMs in the situation of hardware failure.

    On the question of dedicated server hardware, if you choose Dell, the R710 would be the minimum hardware I would go for. Make sure the server has the enterprise feature set enabled for iDRAC. Having the enterprise features enabled brings to the table the ability to do remote KVM and remote media mounting. What this means is you can remotely connect to the server as if you're actually on the server with a keyboard, mouse, and video. The remote media mounting allows you to share out a local ISO file or an attached CD/DVD to the server so it can use it as if it was locally attached. These features allow you to do pretty much everything you need to do to the server without physically touching the server. Also another reason to go with Dell hardware for VMware is Dell has specific VMware ESXi ISOs with their drivers preloaded. So you would just download the ISO from Dell's website and install ESXi from this ISO to the server.

    Another advantage of going to a Dell server is the Lifecycle controller. This is another subsystem in Dell servers which makes configuration and updating of firmware/loading of OS' much easier. The R710 which is Dell's 11th gen server had this feature introduced. The Lifecycle controller has obviously matured through the server generations. I have a few Dell 13th gen servers in my home lab. It's nice when I do updates to my servers that all I need is a Internet connection. The Lifecycle controller goes out to Dell's FTP server, downloads all the necessary firmware packages needed, updates the various components, and does this typically with only one required reboot.
     
  6. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    If you want to run Exchange, Sharepoint, and SQL Servers you really should have one server for each of those. It is not advisable to run any of those services on the AD/DC server and mixing SQL and Exchange isn't recommended either. you can of course virtualize each one. If you virtualize and those are important services I would definitely have a second ESXi server either always running as High Availability or at least have it for standby emergencies. I have one client who runs two R730, a Dell SAN for the datastore, ESXi 6.5, everything is redundant in each server and the SAN and each server has enough CPU memory and storage so it can run all the VM's by itself in an emergency, and full offsite Datto backups runs bi-hourly.
     
  7. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    With vSAN, the need to run a SAN for a shared datastore is eliminated. Companies such as Nutanix also have the same topology. Scaleout storage/hyperconverged is something more and more companies are adopting. Allows the use of commodity hardware and cuts out the need for expensive SAN equipment.
     
  8. G-Stress

    G-Stress Thread Starter

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    Lots of good useful info here. Thanks a lot to all of you! To reduce single point of failure, I'm so surprised I hadn't even thought of that myself. I do have an IBM xSeries server I run esxi on, I believe version 4.3. It's been a few years since I really played with it, but I'm extremely thirsty and hungry to know/learn these products and services for my own personal knowledge as well as to help and assist others. I like the idea of 2 servers virtualized for redundancy. If I were to go that route, would you run esxi as the primary OS or something else? I plan to go with an R710 or better.
     
  9. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    I've onlynused ESXi, Hyper-V, and Xen and of those three ESXi has been my favorite. ESXi and XEN are a full hypervisors, it's the only thing you install onto the bare metal server, no other OS. Hyper-V requires Windows as the base machine.

    You'll need to check compatibility lists to make sure a server is compatible with the Hypervisor of your choosing. The R710's are not officially compatible with ESXi 6.7 and possibly not even 6.5; there's several processors that are no longer supported and the standard RAID cards might not be supported either; this can cause ESXi to not install or randomly purple screen and crash. The R710's while really popular are getting a bit old, I've got a few HP servers of similar generation, G6 and G7's that don't play well with 6.5 or 6.7. For testing you can likely make 6.5/6.7 work on these, I've got a Dell T320 in my home lab that runs 6.7 perfectly but I wouldn't necessarily use that in production with anything above 6.5, also wouldn't recommend buying servers that old for production use either. I'd go one up to the 12th gen Dell's if new wasn't an option. I believe Dell has stopped supporting the Lifecycle Controller for 11th gen servers too.

    You can basic ESXi or Xen Server for free but you miss out on many features of ESXi and can't do full VM backups with something like Veeam Backup Free Community Edition. You can still backup the individual VM's using software installed under each VM OS. But ESXi vSphere Essentials Kit gives you a 3 server, 2 processor per server license with vSphere for under $600. You get centralized management, cloning and migration of machines, access to the backup API that you can then use something like Veeam Backup & Replication with. For onsite backup you can go to a NAS, or you can use cloud backup if youy want to pay a fee but have the security of having a secure backup offsite.

    ***Edit: So I just needed a server for some non-critical use so I dug out the customer's DL165 G7 with dual AMD Opteron 6274's and a P410 RAID controller and ESXi 6.7U1 installed fine as a fresh installed, but failed on an upgrade from 6.0U3 so for home labs these are also still viable.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
  10. G-Stress

    G-Stress Thread Starter

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    Again lots of good useful info. I have had my eye on the R710 since I really started playing with Dell Servers. That was roughly a decade ago and I still don't feel I am as proficient as I want to be. I often wonder how and where IT Personnel learns the hardware/vendor server side knowledge. I've done several Virtual Courses, VTC, CBT Nuggets, etc, but I don't think I've found one that cover's production servers. This is why I want to get the necessary hardware/software and just invest the majority of my free time learning.

    Assuming I decide to go with 2 dell servers running virtualized environments preferably esxi, what 2 would you recommend that would be practical in a medium to large business for the next 5-10+ years?

    If I decided to go with separate server's for each role AD/DC, SQL, Sharepoint, Exchange, etc, what server's would you recommend?


    Thanks again for all of the good info!
     
  11. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    10 years? That's double the recommended life span. To get the longest life go new, Dell is on the 14th generation servers. Also if you go new you can keep buying/extending support/warranty for years and years from Dell. Be aware that some software is licensed by CPU sockets, so the more physical CPU's you have might mean a different and more costly software license. Honestly sizing the servers will all depend on workload. You can get a single socket tower or rack server fairly cheap and it may do well., but it may be underpowered if you ask too much from it. You need to determine how large each system will get. DC's don't need too much; dual core and 4GB of RAM will be fine, and if you go two servers, then you put a DC on each one. SQL you will need to check what it will be running, a basic one with Express may also not need more than 4GB of RAM and a couple cores, but on the other hand the requirements may require 8 cores and 64GB of RAM, or way more. Sharepoint recommends 12 to 24GB of RAM and 4 cores. Older versions of Exchange had minimums of 8GB of RAM, 2019 is saying 128GB of RAM. I believe MS has a sizing calculator for Exchange. There's a big move to move people to Office 365 for email, we haven't deployed an on-premise Exchange server in years and are moving the few that we did to 365.

    If you run a DC, SQL Server, Exchange server, and Sharepoint server that would require 2 Windows licenses, each license is good for 2 virtual machines. You will also need CAL's for the servers and Exchange. Plus Exchange, Sharepoint, and maybe SQL licensing and VMWare licensing. You will need a large budget for sure. For a large organization you may even want to consider volume licensing. Depending on what they do you might be eligible for Non-Profit licensing.

    FYI the company I work for mostly sells Lenovo servers, although I personally prefer Dell and HP's.
     
  12. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    To add some more info to what Rob stated, Dell has a standing policy where you can only buy support for 5 years from the ship date of the product. Some products have a 7 year limitation.

    If you want 10 years out of a server, you're technically looking at a blade chassis system. I forget when the M1000e was first introduced. But Dell did the design on that chassis right. It's seen server generations from I think the 10th gen all the way to the 14th gen servers. Dell only just recently put the M1000e to bed with the release of their new blade chassis solution. Dell has also put out two different server platforms which operate just like a blade chassis or similar. The VRTX uses the same blade servers as the M1000e. But won't be able to use the servers in the new chassis. The FX2 is also another blade chassis variant which uses similar hardware as the M1000e blade servers but in a different form factor. And there's the C series cloud servers which can technically be viewed as a blade server.

    But from my observation, the new blade chassis is your best bet to get that 10 year requirement.
     
  13. G-Stress

    G-Stress Thread Starter

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    @Triple6 When I looked up the requirements for Sharepoint that is what made me decide to figure out what I would need exactly to learn all this at home. I too also prefer Dell servers. I haven't played with an HP server yet. Also the cost of the Licensing is the one thing I'm not too happy about. It seems as if everyone is going cloud-based with everything these days.

    @zx10guy I will look into these blade servers. Sounds like it might just be the way to go.
     
  14. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    Cloud based servers still require licensing costs depending on what you end up going with, if you run hosted servers in the cloud it's actually quite pricey too and still requires OS and CAL licenses just like a local server. Cloud hosted solutions like Office 365 are cheaper though, you don't need to pay for individual CAL's or OS licenses and it's pretty much maintenance free.
     
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