Opinion for a Windows Server build for a small office

b4u

Golden Member
Nov 8, 2002
1,378
2
81
Hi,

I would like to ask for your opinions regarding a server build.

I was asked to get a server for a small company, in order to replace an old one (HP ProLiant ML110 G5 upgraded to 4Gb RAM) that is just struggling to be up to the job.

The company has 4 computers in a windows network, which will also be replaced, but my main focus here it the server itself.

The requirements are simple:
- 4 desktop computers may be connected at a time;
- Server will run a Windows 2012 R2 Server (or Windows Server 2016 if it it out at the time);
- Server will be running an SQL Server Express 2016, with 200 small databases (10-50mb each), where at most 4 databases will be accessed at a time (1 for each desktop usage at maximum);
- It will serve as a simple file sharing for documents, and as a domain server for that small network.

The initial idea is to build a server for these purposes, but if the hardware has enough power, it would be nice to put a virtualization solution like proxmox (on bare metal), and create the server VM on top (I would then be able to reserve some resources to a linux VM for some other services, for instance).

So trying to build a balanced server, I came up with the following parts:
- 1x Supermicro X11SSH-CTF (550€);
- 1x Intel Xeon E3-1240 v5 3.5GHz 8MB Sk1151 (BX80662E31240V5) (330€);
- 2x Kingston DDR4-2133Mhz 16GB ECC Unbuffered (KVR21E15D8/16) (100€);
- 1x SuperChassis 1U 813MTQ-R400CB (460€);
- 2x Western Digital Red 3TB SATA III 64MB (WDBMMA0030HNC) (130€);
- 2x Network card for additional connectivity, specially if using a VM solution (some robust intel chipset card not chosen yet).


That would put me up to a total of 1800€.

With this build, I'm looking into a 32Gb RAM server (which can go up to 64Gb), and a rack chassis with 400W redundant power supplies.

Could you give me some opinions on this build? Even though the requirements are scarce, in your opinion this server would be up to the task?

Going for VM, I would think about throwing a small SSD for the proxmox OS. Well, given the fact that the server would not need more than 128Gb for it's main usage, an alternative would be to put some 256/512 SSD disks instead of those Western Digital Reds (reducing noise, space, temperature and increasing speed).


Any help is appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
11,247
8,478
146
For a business, buy a prebuilt. You don't want to be on the hook for a whitebox build. Also, why Proxmox?
Agreed, just get a Dell or something. You can get a lightweight but decent setup in the 2-3 grand range which will have some level of support. It'll save you time and effort.
 

b4u

Golden Member
Nov 8, 2002
1,378
2
81
For a business, buy a prebuilt. You don't want to be on the hook for a whitebox build. Also, why Proxmox?
Agreed, just get a Dell or something. You can get a lightweight but decent setup in the 2-3 grand range which will have some level of support. It'll save you time and effort.
Yes, I thought about a prebuilt, the thing is that I probably could assemble a better machine for the same price (or lower), the support would be nice, but I would come at a price. This is a very small business that would probably not be able to afford that support (I know, it should have, since it is a business).

The 2 servers installed there are prebuilt and never gave any problem, and no trouble purchasing them (one was bought new the other was not new).

Even if I go for a prebuilt, if I go inline with the specs I posted will I be good for the workload described?


As for proxmox, it's just for a free solution to virtualization. I believe vmware also has a free solution, but as a matter of fact I don't know it the license applies for business.

Thanks
 

Viper GTS

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
38,083
400
136
No, that is not an appropriate spec for that workload.

My opinion is you need more memory and ditch the idea of using spinning disk for anything but bulk file storagfe - You need SSDs for the VM portion of this.

Are all 200 of these databases active at once? Not in use, but online in SQL? Or do you plan to drop the unused databases between sessions?

Viper GTS
 

PliotronX

Diamond Member
Oct 17, 1999
8,883
107
106
It won't be much faster running on a single 5400 RPM drive (RAID-1 essentially running one drive). Hyper-V seems more constrained by disk I/Os than CPU or RAM, particularly when SQL is involved. I would try to include two 10k, 15k, or SSDs in RAID-1 to be thrown into a tiered storage space to place the VHDs. Do what you can to not let the VMs run on pure 5400 RPM. I am trying to convince a miserly business owner to let me migrate data to SSDs off his 7200 RPM Constellations because when something isn't loaded into RAM, it is laggy as all get out. Also, it's not as black and white as "prebuilt or GTFO." I prefer PowerEdges but SuperMicro boards include network KVM whereas the >11 gen Dells require a spendy Enterprise DRAC license for this feature. You also get locked into using their "approved" drives which are more expensive than they should be. Lord help you if you need help with a PE under warranty and you're not using 'certified' drives. You will be on the hook for the server regardless of who built it.
 

b4u

Golden Member
Nov 8, 2002
1,378
2
81
No, that is not an appropriate spec for that workload.

My opinion is you need more memory and ditch the idea of using spinning disk for anything but bulk file storagfe - You need SSDs for the VM portion of this.

Are all 200 of these databases active at once? Not in use, but online in SQL? Or do you plan to drop the unused databases between sessions?

Viper GTS
It won't be much faster running on a single 5400 RPM drive (RAID-1 essentially running one drive). Hyper-V seems more constrained by disk I/Os than CPU or RAM, particularly when SQL is involved. I would try to include two 10k, 15k, or SSDs in RAID-1 to be thrown into a tiered storage space to place the VHDs. Do what you can to not let the VMs run on pure 5400 RPM. I am trying to convince a miserly business owner to let me migrate data to SSDs off his 7200 RPM Constellations because when something isn't loaded into RAM, it is laggy as all get out. Also, it's not as black and white as "prebuilt or GTFO." I prefer PowerEdges but SuperMicro boards include network KVM whereas the >11 gen Dells require a spendy Enterprise DRAC license for this feature. You also get locked into using their "approved" drives which are more expensive than they should be. Lord help you if you need help with a PE under warranty and you're not using 'certified' drives. You will be on the hook for the server regardless of who built it.

Yes, I share some of the thoughts here.

I don't see a problem on going to SSDs on server, so that line I'll take as a "must" to retain the maximum performance from IO.

Those 200 databases are on SQL Server, and are all available. The desktops run a standalone program that access one database at a time. It's one database per client, and each desktop user works one client at a time, they have to change clients on the standalone software, hence changing the database, in order to work. They are not dropped between usages.

Probably there are some 20 databases that can be archived, i.e., backed up to a safe storage and removed, but probably no more that 20 or so.

The server that was bought new was a prebuilt small business server (HP ML110 G5), and I had to upgrade memory. I've selected memory from the hp supported brand/models, and basically payed a lot more from going that route. I know that to get support it will have to be payed, and it could pose a problem to a small business as it is. I do believe that hand-picking hardware to a build will end-up being a better solid approach. I can confirm this with all my builds that work flawlessly (besides some power supply or case fan dying). Hence my logic choice of getting good reliable components to build the machine.

The idea was to start with 32Gb RAM, more is always better but, if it's way better to startup with 64Gb already, I'll take it into serious consideration. I was expecting windows server VM to be using 16Gb minimum, putting more if required. The 64Gb would give way more room to manage that important resource.

Thanks
 

b4u

Golden Member
Nov 8, 2002
1,378
2
81
Additionally, I was taking a peak at dual processor boards, like for instance:
Supermicro X10DRL-i

That would be nice to have room for grow, but processors would be more expensive. Anyone knows if this boards can operate with a single processor? In order to start with a smaller budget and add another processor and 64gb memory in the future?
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY