|In the server box, I wanted to house the larger storage drives, either internally, or external drives through eSATA, rather than paying extra for a NAS. But one of those drives would contain all the necessary files for whatever job I'm doing, and the other would be where the finished frames are sent.|
The advantage of a NAS over what you describe above is that a NAS should have RAID capability. RAID offer's redundancy and protection for your data.
What you describe is just two separate hard drives. My suggestion is, if you're going to spend the money, spend a little more and do it right. Either purchase a RAID capable NAS device, or.......buy an internal RAID controller for your server and then build a RAID in it.
Standard operating procedure in most cases is a separate RAID 1 array (made up of 2 disks) for your operating system and another 3 disk (minimum) RAID 5 for data storage. You could of course combine everything (OS and data) on a single RAID 5 array to save some $$$.
This offers redundancy the single disk solution doesn't. Of course you will still want to do proper backups.
Beyond that, can I do this without needing to purchase server software? I'd rather not spend that kind of money if I don't need to.
From what you've said, I wouldn't think it necessary to purchase a server operating system. I'm quite sure your 'server' would work fine under XP Pro.
Questions: Can I control the server through my workstation, or will I need to purchase another monitor, keyboard and mouse for the server? If both, which would be most efficient?
Depending on location of equipment, you could use a KVM switch to connect multiple computers to a single keyboard/mouse/monitor. I have a KVM here in my office at home and 4 of the 5 PC's I have in here connect to it (my main PC, the one I'm typing on now is also a gaming PC so I keep it separate).
Regardless of the monitor/KB/mouse issue, you would remote into your server using RDC (remote desktop connection).
I'm assuming that, through the server, I'll have full access to each client box and will be able to do all my installs, disk cloning, etc from one machine, or is that not the case?
That depends on you and your level of knowledge. I could do it, but I'm a professional with 15 years of experience working in industry. It's a topic that's a wee bit complicated to be discussed in forum here and to be honest, I don't have the time to teach someone via email either. If you don't presently have the requisite knowledge you could talk to people locally. Do you have any friends that work in industry?