Very Small Network - Need Advice

The network is the forum.

Moderators: Steel, notfred

Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:05 am

Hello all,

I have a friend that will be opening his own little office for just himself and some part-time support.

He would like a server to house his files (AutoCAD, word, excel), and serve up email. He would also like to be able to access this server from home, since he works non-stop. Its a small Architectural outfit.

I know he doesn't need overkill and a small server will do. My range of server setups i very limited so I am asking here. I feel that most of the responses will be to have him contact Dell or HP, but if I can build said machine and help him set it up - I will. He has no problems paying me for my work and just likes the way I do things (I've built 5 machines and fixed 3 laptops for him in the last 3 years).

The hardware I can spec out fine, my problem runs into the software side of things. I never liked dealing with software.

In the words of Zohan . . . . .So let's go. Let's do this.

1. Would a Linux box be a preferable solution to an MS box (using server software)? I think WSH is just for home needs correct?

2. How would I go about setting up access from his home? I think this is where a VPN setup is mandatory?

3. If the linux route is chosen, how easy would it be to set up two XP/Win7 machines to the server for printing and email?

I know there are guides and so forth on the net and I will read them, but I trust this community more since this is where I get most of my answers anyways.

Thanks in advance.

Lex
. . . this is the digital projection of your mental self. . . .

Darth Lex-idius vs. Obi Lex kanobi
lex-ington
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2920
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 10:59 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:31 am

WHS may be advertised as 'for home', but supporting a max of 10 clients and based on the Server 2003/2008 OS, it is not just for home. I have an original HP MSS modded to suit my needs and it is worth every penny of the $600 I paid for it - full backups that have saved my bacon 4x over 3 years, remote access, media sharing, transparent media encoding to portable devices with the newest update, etc.

Now, having said that, we know that MS has killed the drive extender technology in WHS v2, so it really is not as good as its older sibling, thus not as recommended for your setup as the older version. I have no interest in upgrading to an inferior product, so I won't push WHS v2 on you, but hopefully others who are running Vail can chip in and see if it is worth your time/effort to look into.
Intel i5 2500K@4.3, Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD, Zotax GTX580, 2x WD Caviar Black 1TB (RAID-0), Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Ed, Corsair H80, Win 7 Pro
Walkintarget
Gerbil Team Leader
 
Posts: 237
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:15 am

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:00 am

In re email, why not set up Google Apps for Domains? It'd even be free.

Remote access: yes, you'll need some kind of VPN setup. You could fake it with SSH tunnels, but that'd be more trouble than it's worth for a non-technical user.

Fileserver: FreeNAS might do what you're after.
Think for yourself, schmuck!
i5-2500K@4.3|Asus P8P67-LE|8GB DDR3-1600|Powercolor R7850 2G|1.5TB 7200.11|1988 Model M|Saitek X-45 & P880|Logitech MX 518|Dell 2209WA|Sennheiser PC151|Asus Xonar DX
bthylafh
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3223
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2003 11:55 pm
Location: Southwest Missouri, USA

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:03 pm

I'd look closely at Windows Small Businss Server - http://www.microsoft.com/sbs/en/us/overview.aspx

Windows Home Server is actually based on it (SBS itself is based on Windows Server).

It'll handle email, file serving, account management and email and since you don't like dealing with software it comes pretty much setup out of the box. It's a bit costly but that's literally the price you pay for dead simple.

Personally I'd use linux for such a senario but it will inolve a lot of setup and tweaking to get everything working.

If you do go the SBS route I'd highly recommend buying it installed on a server from someone like HP or Dell if for no other reason than the warranty support. I've been in the position of having to support friend's servers years after I built them and it's not fun. Workstations and laptops are one thing but when it comes to his server it's nice to be able to call dell and get a part overnight under warranty. Dell has a basic tower server for under $500 (I'd add redundant storage and more RAM) but that little extra it costs is well worth not having to worry about the parts.

[EDIT] SBS also does remote access
ekul
Gerbil
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:25 pm

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:12 am

O.k.

I discussed some options with my friend last night and email service is out.

I priced the cheapest Dell server for small businesses last night (not the Celeron version though) and it came up to about $2100 before taxes and shipping. To me that's a bit high, but I still have to check what HP is offering.

For right now, it looks like he's leaning towards Microsoft SBS 2008 (can be found for $650) and a light comp build with a few beefed up parts.

As I am looking into RAID for data protection, which would be the better RAID setup for a small outfit like this? Is Adaptec a reputable company for RAID cards?
. . . this is the digital projection of your mental self. . . .

Darth Lex-idius vs. Obi Lex kanobi
lex-ington
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2920
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 10:59 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:17 am

lex-ington wrote:O.k.

I discussed some options with my friend last night and email service is out.

I priced the cheapest Dell server for small businesses last night (not the Celeron version though) and it came up to about $2100 before taxes and shipping. To me that's a bit high, but I still have to check what HP is offering.

For right now, it looks like he's leaning towards Microsoft SBS 2008 (can be found for $650) and a light comp build with a few beefed up parts.

As I am looking into RAID for data protection, which would be the better RAID setup for a small outfit like this? Is Adaptec a reputable company for RAID cards?



I also suggest looking at the dell outlet and hp outlet stores. You can save quite a bit on 1u and 2u servers. They come with the same warranties as their normal servers and you can upgrade them as well.
I7 3820, 16 GB of ram, 240 gig corsiar nuetron, gtx 560 ti, asus x79 ws, HP ZR24w
128 GB surface pro
thecoldanddarkone
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2236
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2003 4:35 pm

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:46 am

lex-ington wrote:As I am looking into RAID for data protection, which would be the better RAID setup for a small outfit like this? Is Adaptec a reputable company for RAID cards?


I've never had trouble with them but I also haven't used too many. Are you thinking of RAID 1 or 5?

Since this is a single server hosting nearly everything I'd be tempted to go with a RAID5 array using 1.5 or 2 TB drives. Make a 3 disk array and have a hot spare. Going with a vendor server would make that more feasible since they have hotswap chassis. Whatever you decide you'll need a pretty robust backup strategy since this server will represent a huge single point of failure.

I wouldn't spend less than $300 on a RAID controller or you're almost certainly getting a crappy one. Among the lower-end of the stuff you might actually want there is adaptec, LSI and 3Ware. I've heard bad things about 3ware but adaptec and LSI are both reputable. Don't forget SAS is backwards compatible with SATA so you don't have to get amazingly expensive drives with a SAS controller, it'll take plain SATA drives.
ekul
Gerbil
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:25 pm

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:58 am

lex-ington wrote:O.k.

I discussed some options with my friend last night and email service is out.

Sorry, do you mean he doesn't need email on the server or using something like google is unacceptable?

lex-ington wrote:For right now, it looks like he's leaning towards Microsoft SBS 2008 (can be found for $650) and a light comp build with a few beefed up parts.

If email won't be used on the server then you could probably get by with a non sbs version. SBS is ok but it can be a little fragile and temperamental. It also really requires 8GB of ram to run properly, don't forget to include that.

lex-ington wrote:As I am looking into RAID for data protection, which would be the better RAID setup for a small outfit like this? Is Adaptec a reputable company for RAID cards?

Come on, you know better than to say "RAID" and "data protection" in the same sentence round here :wink:

Anyhow, personally I think setting up an SBS domain for 1-2 people is simply MADNESS. There's a hell of a lot more to administering an SBS domain than there is to running a couple of PCs in an office and if he isn't going to be learning how to do it himself and you're not going to be a 24h free support line it'll cost him quite a bit in maintenance.

As for remote access, unless he's got a blindingly fast upload speed in the office or all his files are tiny I can't see remoting in over a VPN working out for him. That leaves him with remote desktop (horrible for extended sessions and slow), portable hard drives (doing things the old fashioned way), or some cloud based file syncing service (a little scary).
Fernando!
Your mother ate my dog!
cheesyking
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2281
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:52 am
Location: That London (or so I'm told)

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:15 am

I am going to go with Windows Home Server. This will be the most cost effective method to get him exactly what he needs and not go overkill. I am going to agree with cheesyking and say that a SBS Domain is completely overkill for his needs.

WHS will include your backup solution for the workstations and file serving needs with ease. It does include a built in web connector that if he only needs one or two files would be fine. However for constant working from the road you may look at a true VPN solution.

It also includes duplication for the shared folders and it can be setup to backup the backup database. However, with this as well as a traditional server you will need to backup the files offsite somehow. Either taking a backup disk offsite, using crashplan, or using a cloud service of some type.


lex-ington wrote:
I discussed some options with my friend last night and email service is out.


Does this mean no email on the server or no email such as google apps. I use google apps for about 10 of my customers and if you have under 50 users it is free (starting May 10th it will go to 10 users). I only host one customers email since they send out ~3000 emails a day which is over the google apps limit of (I believe) 500 a day free and 2000 a day paid. However I spend 90% of time administering the one customer I do host and almost no time working with the google apps. YMMV
DrkSide
Gerbil
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:08 pm

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:36 am

I am sorry. I should have been more clear.

There will be no need for delivering email from the server to anyone else as all emails will go through him. That is what I meant. He wants to be the single point of contact for all of his clients.

The servers with hot-swap capabilities climb in price very quickly compared to the ones without.

I know nothing about Raid arrays, that's why I thought they were for file protection - or in this case, redundancy.

WHS will be a huge reduction in pricing, that's for sure. So it seems like that can do it. I just have to make sure that it can act as a print server as well.

I was told that the server will be for:
- AutoCAD files that he will like to access from home to continue work on.
- Excel and Word files (for the regular business reasons)
- Accessing two printers (one that is capable of sheets as large as 11x17, and an actual plotter capable of plots up to 36x48 sized sheets) from himself and his employee.

None of the low priced servers that I am looking at online have a redundant power supply, or have that much memory either.
. . . this is the digital projection of your mental self. . . .

Darth Lex-idius vs. Obi Lex kanobi
lex-ington
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2920
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 10:59 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:51 am

lex-ington wrote:I know nothing about Raid arrays, that's why I thought they were for file protection - or in this case, redundancy.


The basic idea if raid is reduce the risk of hard drive failure. With RAID1 you write 2 copies of everything, one to each drive in the array, so if one fails there is any copy. You have to take the server offline to replace the drive and since it has to make a copy of all the data on the working drive it takes a long time to get running again (basically the same amount of time as if you restored from backups)

With RAID5 you have 3 drives and data is written to 1 drive and paritied on the other 2. The data drive rotates around and if any one drive fails the data on it can be rebuilt from the parity data. This take a while but can be done while the server is still running. RAID 5 does involve a performance penalty when writing since the parity has to be calculated and lower end cards don't have enough fancy hardware to do it quickly.

Whatever you decide to use repeat this to yourself: RAID is not a replacement for backups

Using RAID will reduce the need to restore from backups in case of hard drive failure since you can usually catch it and replace the bad drive before the array gets taken down. It can't:

-prevent users from overwriting their files accidently
-stop bit rot (where files get corrupted due to OS bugs and other factors)
-get you up and running after a fire or theft


for these and other things you hope never happen nothing can ever replace regular backups. Nightly diffs, weekly fulls and storing known-good backups offsite on a regular basis is still just as critical. RAID will just mean you don't have to go to your disaaster recover plan as often.
ekul
Gerbil
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:25 pm

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:30 am

IMO the Linux vs. Windows question hinges on whether you've worked with Linux servers before, and how willing you are to learn (and support this installation going forward). I believe a Linux server will result in cost savings over the long run, but may result in more up-front cost if you're more familiar with Windows, and your customer is paying you by the hour to get up to speed.
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37979
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:01 pm

lex-ington wrote:
I was told that the server will be for:
- AutoCAD files that he will like to access from home to continue work on.
- Excel and Word files (for the regular business reasons)
- Accessing two printers (one that is capable of sheets as large as 11x17, and an actual plotter capable of plots up to 36x48 sized sheets) from himself and his employee.

None of the low priced servers that I am looking at online have a redundant power supply, or have that much memory either.


Why does your employer's requirements sound so eerily similar to an engineering company i worked with before? Scary. Anyway Linux would be to appropriate choice here if it wasn't for one thing.... AUTOCAD. AUTOCAD has a check in/check-out feature that can only be used (from what I remember) on Windows. However if he's not using that remote license server and is using stand alone licenses then you won't need it. If that's not the case then you'll be paying for Windows. Sorry to say that, but it's the best way to go for this situation when dealing with the AUTOCAD license server.

Option #1 (NO AUTOCAD LICENSE SERVER) DIY Linux Server:

Positives:
[*]Low Cost
[*]Lots of storage
[*]Flexibility with VM's

Negatives:
[*]learning curve
[*]Possible AUTOCAD license server problems.
[*]No real technical support

LOW COST + Lots of storage. You'll need space and lots of it when dealing with AC files and tiff images. I would go RAID 6 with hotswap spare done on a good RAID controller for your share space with RAID1 for your OS. I'd go with and Adaptec Card with 2 mini-SAS 8087's. It will allow you to stand up your RAID 6 with the hot spare + your RAID1 OS and you'll have expansion options later if you need them. You'll even be able to stand up Windows on this server if you need to in KVM and your licenses will be volume/ or not associated to the hardware (which is very important if you end up virtualizing) If your plotter is good...something like a KIP plotter you'll have linux drivers for it. However, you've got so few users forgo the print server for now. I'm not going to lie if you've never used Linux before there WILL be a learning curve. However, the money saved is substantial.

Option#2 (AUTOCAD LICENSE SERVER) OEM Server WIN Server 2008 (Most likely RAID5):

Positives:
[*]OEM Technical Support
[*]It's Windows so you should be pretty familiar with it.
[*]Everyone supports it.

Negatives:
[*]COST
[*]Not as much storage for the money

This option will be more expensive. However, your learning curve will probably be minor and it will work with your license server now if you have one + you've got OEM technical support. The downside is that if money is a concern you'll be space limited. The pricing of storage space through an OEM like dell sky rockets when you start adding drives AND this is a biggie... ALL licenses are tied to the hardware and you'll need CALS for every user you have now and in the future.

This is going to depend on your comfort zone and knowledge.
Core i7 920 @stock - 6GB OCZ Mem - Adaptec 5805 - 2 x Intel X25-M in RAID1 - 5 x Western Digital RE4 WD1003FBYX 1TB in RAID 6 - Nvidia GTX 460
kc77
Gerbil Team Leader
 
Posts: 242
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 2:25 am

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:52 pm

lex-ington wrote:I am sorry. I should have been more clear.

There will be no need for delivering email from the server to anyone else as all emails will go through him. That is what I meant. He wants to be the single point of contact for all of his clients.

The servers with hot-swap capabilities climb in price very quickly compared to the ones without.

I know nothing about Raid arrays, that's why I thought they were for file protection - or in this case, redundancy.

WHS will be a huge reduction in pricing, that's for sure. So it seems like that can do it. I just have to make sure that it can act as a print server as well.

I was told that the server will be for:
- AutoCAD files that he will like to access from home to continue work on.
- Excel and Word files (for the regular business reasons)
- Accessing two printers (one that is capable of sheets as large as 11x17, and an actual plotter capable of plots up to 36x48 sized sheets) from himself and his employee.

None of the low priced servers that I am looking at online have a redundant power supply, or have that much memory either.


To be honest I really don't see the need for a dedicated server. For just 2 people standard desktop windows will do everything he wants especially if it's the pro version.
Fernando!
Your mother ate my dog!
cheesyking
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2281
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:52 am
Location: That London (or so I'm told)

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:21 pm

cheesyking wrote:
lex-ington wrote:I am sorry. I should have been more clear.

There will be no need for delivering email from the server to anyone else as all emails will go through him. That is what I meant. He wants to be the single point of contact for all of his clients.

The servers with hot-swap capabilities climb in price very quickly compared to the ones without.

I know nothing about Raid arrays, that's why I thought they were for file protection - or in this case, redundancy.

WHS will be a huge reduction in pricing, that's for sure. So it seems like that can do it. I just have to make sure that it can act as a print server as well.

I was told that the server will be for:
- AutoCAD files that he will like to access from home to continue work on.
- Excel and Word files (for the regular business reasons)
- Accessing two printers (one that is capable of sheets as large as 11x17, and an actual plotter capable of plots up to 36x48 sized sheets) from himself and his employee.

None of the low priced servers that I am looking at online have a redundant power supply, or have that much memory either.


To be honest I really don't see the need for a dedicated server. For just 2 people standard desktop windows will do everything he wants especially if it's the pro version.


I mentioned that, but he wants a server. He's the one spending the money. I've stopped trying to convince people of things they have heard elsewhere.
. . . this is the digital projection of your mental self. . . .

Darth Lex-idius vs. Obi Lex kanobi
lex-ington
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2920
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 10:59 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:27 pm

lex-ington wrote:I mentioned that, but he wants a server. He's the one spending the money. I've stopped trying to convince people of things they have heard elsewhere.


What he might want is a NAS. Lots of places make ones designed for small offices to store big files and backups. qnap makes some nice ones. They have remote file access and all that stuff. At this point they are tiny little dedicated servers sicne the ones from QNAP use intel atom chips and run a customized linux with a nice, firendly web interface. They have print servers and other useful things for offices small enough not to need a full on server.

hell, buy one, set it all up and call it a server. He'll never know. It'll be lower power and smaller than anything you can build yourself and you'll have a vendor to support it should something go wrong.
ekul
Gerbil
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:25 pm

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:42 pm

http://www.clearcenter.com/ClearBOX-Ove ... rview.html

Will do everything asked and plenty they haven't thought to ask yet... except AutoCAD.
TibeR
Gerbil
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Northern California

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:33 pm

Hm, lots of good suggestions here. I have a client that has roughly the same needs. I just use a WHS machine for storage and backups, and even though it won't make life server-centric, it helps a tremendous amount. It transformed a completely disorganized mess into a much less disorganized mess. That's a win.

For remote access look for a router/modem that has built-in VPN endpoint capability. You can then use Remote Desktop, which is pretty rocking. You can also use LogMeIn as an alternate/backup plan.

For backups and data-loss prevention I use a combination of things, external HDD, RAID, and multiple copies of the real important stuff (payroll, tax, inventory, etc.) on DVD and thumb drive. I don't recommend cloud/online storage for backups, even if the cost has dropped considerably. iDisk is interesting, and since this client retired their fleet of Thinkpads for Macs, we set it up for the really, really, important stuff, like photos of the family dogs.
Calm seas never made a skilled mariner.
drsauced
Graphmaster Gerbil
 
Posts: 1475
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2003 1:38 pm
Location: Here!

Re: Very Small Network - Need Advice

Postposted on Fri May 06, 2011 12:11 pm

I picked up the parts today . . .except for the WHS OS, but I paid for it already.

It's amazing what you can get for the price these days. i went by my friend's office yesterday, and since everything is included in his lease (hydro, intenet, water. . . .etc) I decided to give him some power. I got:
- Cooloer Master HAF 912 case
- Corsair CX500 PSU
- AMD II X4-645
- 4GB DDR3
- Gigabyte 880G mobo (w/USB3 and eSATA)
- WHS
- 1x500GB HDD, 2x1TB HDD
- DVD-RW

All for $670 CDN after taxes (13% tax rate).
. . . this is the digital projection of your mental self. . . .

Darth Lex-idius vs. Obi Lex kanobi
lex-ington
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2920
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 10:59 pm
Location: Toronto, ON


Return to Networking

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests