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  • Dell servers

    I'm tasked with buying a server. Basic requirement is that it be a Dell.

    This will be a backup Windows 2003 server to provide file services and updates to about a dozen workstations. So it doesn't need a lot of horsepower. The main reason to run Windows is to run some apps that only run on Windows, like the WSUS update system, and some client-server apps.

    At the same time I'd like to get a 2nd server that will be a backup to my gateway Linux box, and I plan to install CentOS 5.

    Has anyone experience with Dell's current low end server line? I'd like to get a rack mount unit to make it easy to put in the wiring closet. (My current servers, about 3 years old, are a couple of low-end PowerEdge towers.)

    Remote network console would be a big plus. I hate having to sit in the wiring closet when I have to service these things.

    BTW, the cost of the Windows license will be about the same as the cost of the hardware with their entry level server.
    Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

    snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

    Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

  • #2
    Re: Dell servers

    I'm sure I could dig out my old Poweredge 2300 (two Pentium IIs!) for you, although shipping that jet engine would cost a lot.
    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. ~
    I have a tendency to key out three or four things and then let them battle for supremacy while I key, so there's a lot of backspacing as potential statements are slaughtered and eaten by the victors. ~
    Feel free to quote me. ~

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Dell servers

      Hehe, I recall managing a 4600 (I think), big P3 beast. Reliable, though. Was in a pretty dirty environment and I just had to vacuum it out once a year.

      Right now I'm looking at the PE 2950, a 2U box with an Intel quad-core, 2 GB memory, 3x250 GB SATA in a PERC RAID 5 setup. The DRAC 5 card (+$300) gives it a graphical remote network console. With the server license and discounts it's about $3200. A variant with 4 GB and no OS would run me about $2400.
      Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

      snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

      Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Dell servers

        Originally posted by ScratchMonkey View Post
        This will be a backup Windows 2003 server to provide file services and updates to about a dozen workstations. So it doesn't need a lot of horsepower. The main reason to run Windows is to run some apps that only run on Windows, like the WSUS update system, and some client-server apps.
        Right now I'm looking at the PE 2950, a 2U box with an Intel quad-core, 2 GB memory, 3x250 GB SATA in a PERC RAID 5 setup. The DRAC 5 card (+$300) gives it a graphical remote network console. With the server license and discounts it's about $3200. A variant with 4 GB and no OS would run me about $2400.
        These two posts are contradictory. $3200 for a server to manage a 12 user network is over-kill, especially if you're talking about having a running backup server.

        I've got a Poweredge 830 that runs a small network (6 PCs) for around $1400.
        It runs WSUS, AVG Anti-Virus Network edition, all 4 of our network printers, and AD without even really registering on the CPU. In fact, this server is grossly under-utilized.

        It runs a SATA mirror and I use DVDs to backup the data to save costs (there isn't a whole lot of data and most of it is static).

        You seem to be paying for the rack mount capability. That server you quoted could run a mid-sized school district or company network. Unless you plan on expanding drastically, you could save a lot of money by going cheaper.

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        • #5
          Re: Dell servers

          While I'm inclined to agree with you given current usage, I expect that work will expand to fill the capacity. For example, I may load our MRP on that system. (That's a whole 'nother thread!)

          It's too bad that the nice remote management features (eg. DRAC 5) aren't available on the lower end servers.
          Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

          snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

          Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Dell servers

            The only remote management feature you should ever need is SSH.
            The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. ~
            I have a tendency to key out three or four things and then let them battle for supremacy while I key, so there's a lot of backspacing as potential statements are slaughtered and eaten by the victors. ~
            Feel free to quote me. ~

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Dell servers

              Originally posted by ednos View Post
              The only remote management feature you should ever need is SSH.
              A serial console can come in handy, too

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Dell servers

                I was just going to say...

                How do I use ssh to select which kernel to boot from, when the new kernel I just installed doesn't boot? Without some kind of remote console, I can't do that.

                For the Windows box, Remote Desktop works well once the system has booted. I use SSL-based OpenVPN to gateway from home to the office Linux gateway, then RDP from my home XP box to the office Windows server.
                Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Dell servers

                  Originally posted by HgMaDHaTTeR View Post
                  A serial console can come in handy, too
                  Point.
                  The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. ~
                  I have a tendency to key out three or four things and then let them battle for supremacy while I key, so there's a lot of backspacing as potential statements are slaughtered and eaten by the victors. ~
                  Feel free to quote me. ~

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Dell servers

                    Originally posted by ScratchMonkey View Post
                    I was just going to say...

                    How do I use ssh to select which kernel to boot from, when the new kernel I just installed doesn't boot? Without some kind of remote console, I can't do that.

                    For the Windows box, Remote Desktop works well once the system has booted. I use SSL-based OpenVPN to gateway from home to the office Linux gateway, then RDP from my home XP box to the office Windows server.
                    You could use a form of network KVM switch. I don't know about this one, and I'm not inclined to dig too hard, but they have some that will allow you access via http or proprietary software.

                    Essentially, you're remote tunneling to the KVM switch which is connected to the server via standard PS/2 or USB cables for the keyboard/mouse/video. You then can control everything on the server at the hardware level. These devices are a bit more pricey than the standard KVM, but I enjoyed having them when a server was down and I was 200 miles away. All you need on the other end is someone who can insert CDs or hard boot the server for you.

                    With a secure VPN setup on your end, you could even locally connect without having to open up any more holes in your firewall.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Dell servers

                      The KVM you linked is a local "secure" KVM, not a network one. The "IP KVM" line is here
                      Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                      snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                      Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Dell servers

                        Originally posted by ScratchMonkey View Post
                        The KVM you linked is a local "secure" KVM, not a network one. The "IP KVM" line is here
                        Granted. The one you posted would be the "better" choice depending. If you were really looking to cut costs, you could easily setup access to the KVM on a local server (preferably not a heavily utilized one) or a desktop that doesn't see much use. You could then VPN to your network, Remote Desktop (or Dameware, etc) to that PC/Server, then use the KVM function.

                        Yes, it'd be slow and you're kind of cheap-skating, but it functions none-the-less and you really just need limited connection to get the server back online. Plus, you'd mainly be pushing text through a command interface, not a GUI. You could save a lot of money this way.

                        Personally, if it was my choice, I'd spend the money for the best remote system I could. Unfortunately, I was never the one dictating costs. I can at least thank my boss for this fact: By being forced to work with cheaper equipment, I've learned a Hell of a lot about the dark side of IT. It's easy to work with SOTA parts. When you really shine is when you can work with equipment that's probably older than you are and make it work.

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