Server Suggestions

March 24, 2009 at 09:45:09
Specs: Windows XP/Unix/Linux
So here is the story. I am the IT person for a small vehicle dealership chain that is spread across 4 locations in the city. Each location is presently setup with a VPN connection to the main site which houses a database server hosting all the programs needed to run the dealership like, customer tracking software, accounting software and all that is in between. The 100-125 workstations spread across all 4 buildings are presently on a Workgroup setup with local management of User Access, hardware and software management. From a productivity standpoint I need to convert to a domain environment.

Here is the problem, I have supplied the boss man holding the company credit card with 3 quotes for a new Windows Server with enough licenses to support the number of staff members properly, however he has flat out informed me the price tag is too high and to find a way to lower it. Now unfortunatly since the hardware is not going to decrease in value just because I want it to, that leaves me with the software and licenses.

I have been doing a little research online for alternatives to a Windows Server and have already ruled out a Mac XServer since it cannot support workstation management or roaming profiles. I have also installed SME Server on a old box I got laying around but have hit a wall with its capabilities as far as I can see and what I would like for it to do. (Or maybe I am just reading the wrong documentation)

Basically, this is what I am looking for in regards to capabilities:

*Roaming Profiles (Desktop settings, email settings, emails, webpage favorites/bookmarks etc.) - if this means I need a login script that tells windows to backup all settings to a users home directory on the server and then restore on logon I am ok with that.
*Domain User Management (logins, passwords) - A no brainer but still much prefered then creating each user on each individual workstation.
*File and Print Sharing (network drives mapped to each profile with full control on who has access to what)
*Ability to set program access and control for user groups such as who can uninstall and install on the local workstations
*Remote desktop management (for pushing software packages down to workstations. ie. Software updates, new programs etc...)
*Ability to setup a new user from scratch so that when he logs in for the first time to any computer on the network he is all setup with access to the dealerships software, email through outlook express and anything else I need to set.

I know most of these things can be done with Windows Server, with the exception of the Outlook Express settings I think, however since the boss wants me to cut corners I come seeking help.

I have heard of OpenLDAP but have not been able to find any information if it will be able to do all that I require. I have also heard of Mandriva software package that has several components that will work together, however since my knowledge in the way of Linux/Unix is rather limited, I would prefer to hear the thoughts of more experienced FOSS advocates to make this decision.

So if you have any suggestions please let me know. I apologise for my ignorance, however I fully admit it and am open to suggestions and helpful advise.

Thank you for your time.

See More: Server Suggestions

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March 24, 2009 at 10:00:38
How about showing us your quotes?

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March 24, 2009 at 10:33:13
Well here is one of them which is the middle range in price. I have a quote from dell which is another $1000 more and another from a small company with Windows 2003 and less hardware for $500 cheaper.

All Prices are in Canadian Dollar(CAD)
Product Qty Your Price Total

HP ProLiant ML350 G5 - Server - tower - 5U - 2-way - 1 x Quad-Core Xeon E5430 / 2.66 GHz - RAM 2 GB - SAS - hot-swap 3.5" - no HDD - DVD¦RW - ATI ES1000 - Gigabit Ethernet - Monitor : none - Smart Buy
HP - Servers - Part#: 470064-870 $1,955.50

HP - Memory - 4 GB ( 2 x 2 GB ) - FB-DIMM 240-pin - DDR2 - 667 MHz / PC2-5300 - fully buffered - ECC - Smart Buy
HP - General - Part#: 397413-S21 $209.20

HP Midline - Hard drive - 500 GB x2- hot-swap - 3.5" - SATA-300 - 7200 rpm
HP - Storage - Part#: 458928-B21 $747.74

Electronic HP Care Pack 4-Hour 24x7 Same Day Hardware Support - Extended service agreement - parts and labor - 3 years - on-site - 24x7 - 4 h - Smart Buy
HP - Computer Support - Part#: UE902E $565.60

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Standard - License - 1 server - OEM - ROK - English
Lenovo - Software - Part#: 54Y6100 $764.96

APC Smart-UPS RM 1500VA USB & Serial - UPS ( rack-mountable ) - AC 120 V - 980 Watt - 1440 VA - 6 output connector(s) - 2U
APC - Data Centers & Server Rooms - Part#: SUA1500RM2U $793.24

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 - License - 1 user CAL x100- Open Business - Single Language
Microsoft Open License Business - Part#: R18-02709 $3,369.00


I could probably lower the amount of RAM and HD space but I would rather get the hardware needed now for any future requirements then be stuck later getting another box when one could have done the trick to begin with. I figure if I run VMWare ESXi as a base software and install the server software as a virtual machine I should be set for future expandibility or future system expansions.

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March 24, 2009 at 12:08:43
Your gear is all top notch stuff and you only have 150 users, cut back on the spec of the servers, windows server 2003 should suffice too, I would personally buy a few older Proliants second hand have 1 DC/DHCP/DNS and one app/file/db server. A place i worked were buying any DL380 G3 they could get their hands on and using them as spares for the production servers they had. dual core 3 GHz with 2 gig of ram should be enough for the number of users you have!

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March 24, 2009 at 12:43:40
a quad core is overkill for a file server. If it was an app server that would be different. Tower? Should be rack mount.

Do you have a rack? They also are not cheap.

loose the ups. Once you have a power failure and you are down your boss will change his mind about getting it. You can get a smart ups with serial/usb server connection for $100-150 which would suffice for now.

You don't have enough servers. MS recommends a minimum of two. What do you have now that could be converted to a DC?

Don't put all your eggs [services] in ONE server. You will be hosed.

Might want to review the warranty. Some don't allow you to add drives/ram and still be supported. Always get the warranty. That is a smart move.

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March 24, 2009 at 14:43:12
have a look at this "distro chooser" my results for a free linux server are OpenSuSE

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March 24, 2009 at 15:42:04
I do not require a new DHCP/DNS server at this point since that is already taken care of by new equipment we have presently. Being a dealership the Data Management System installed by our database providers takes care of the Static IP network and all the basics. The additions I am looking for is just to make the workstation side of things easier to manage as it grows.

I will look into the alterations in hardware as suggested. I know from that particular provider I cannot get a copy of Windows Server 2003 (they tell me they cannot get a hold of a copy anymore). However even with the changes in hardware the price is probably only going to drop by about $1500 i am guessing. Not sure if that is going to be enough to a drop for the boss considering the lowest quote I got was $7,299.20 but that quote was able to provide server 2003 with each user CAL working out to $43.08 a piece instead of the $33.69 from the quote above. The main difference in the price from the top quote and this one is that it only quotes 65 CALS along with the 5 included in the OS.
PowerEdge 2900
Quad Core Intel® Xeon® E5405, 2x6MB Cache, 2.0GHz, 1333MHz FSB

Operating System
Windows Server® 2003 R2, Standard x64 Edition with SP2,Includes 5 CALs

Additional Processor
Single Processor only

4GB 667MHz (2x2GB), Dual Ranked DIMMs

Keyboards, Mice, Displays and Related Devices
Keyboard and Optical Mouse, USB, Black, English

Optional Feature Upgrades for Integrated NIC Ports
LOM NICs are TOE Ready

Primary Hard Drive
250GB 7.2K RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in HotPlug Hard Drive

Primary Controller
PERC 6/i Integrated Controller Card

Floppy Drive
No Floppy Drive

Network Adapter
Dual Embedded Broadcom® NetXtreme II 5708 Gigabit Ethernet NIC

Optional Optical Drive

Tower Bezel Included

Operating System Addition
25-pack of Windows® Server 2003 Device CALs (Standard or Enterprise)

Electronic Documentation and OpenManage DVD Kit

2nd Hard Drive
250GB 7.2K RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in HotPlug Hard Drive

Hard Drive Configuration
Integrated SAS/SATA RAID 5, PERC 6/i Integrated

Chassis Configuration
Tower Chassis Orientation

Hardware Support Services
3Yr Basic Hardware Warranty Repair: 5x10 HW-Only, 5x10 NBD Onsite

Hardware Installation Services
No Installation Assessment

Power Supply
Redundant Power Supply with Dual Cords

Power Cords
Power Cord, 250 volt, C13 to C14, PDU Style, 10 amps, 2 feet / .6 meter

3rd Hard Drive
250GB 7.2K RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in HotPlug Hard Drive

I do have another Microsoft Server 2003 computer being used at another building simply because the software on it required Server. Not quite sure why considering it is a simple program, however the software requirements were quite strict. I guess I could activate DC on it to be the backup DC but due to location and net speed I would prefer not to have that as the primary.

Thanks for the input in any case. Any other suggestions for software instead of Microsoft Server? I am having a system quoted at the moment with Novel to see the cost savings but other suggestions are welcome.

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March 24, 2009 at 20:46:55
You can adjust your hardware choices a little and save a little, but your real savings is going to come from dropping the windows servers and move to Linux servers which can be setup as a DC.

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