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Thread: [SOLVED] A new migration, hardware recommendations for 20-30 users

  1. #1
    batfastad is offline Elite Member
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    Default [SOLVED] A new migration, hardware recommendations for 20-30 users

    Hi everyone
    I'm looking to build a new server, with the idea that we will be migrating to Zimbra over the next 6-10 months. I cannot wait to get rid of our SBS 2003 server!
    I think v6 of Zimbra will be the one that does it for us, as looking at pm.zimbra.com there's a few features we need that will be added/fixed by then.
    I'm no stranger to putting hardware together, but chipset/processor specs and codenames always seem to move on so quickly that I find it difficult to know what's current.

    Since I'll be starting this build from scratch, it will make sense to go with 64bit everything, and use the 64bit installation of Zimbra/Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. Obviously I'm not planning on running any other services on the Zimbra machine.

    It will be a small business build - only 20 users at the moment, 30/40 users max.
    I'd like to go with Intel and a Xeon processor, but if anyone recommends AMD stuff and it's cheaper then I'll listen!

    I'll be re-using an existing 2U case (2U Rackmount Server Chassis - Intel P4 Xeon & AMD Ready | UK Specialist Server Case Supplier) to bolt all this into.

    Then 8GB of ECC memory to keep things in check.

    I was planning on going for 2x1TB (maybe 1.5TB) SATA drives in a RAID 1 mirroring array.
    Should I splash some extra cash and get a dedicated hardware RAID card? Or just use onboard RAID?
    I can understand going for dedicated RAID card for something like RAID5/6, but RAID 1 mirroring is quite a simple operation.
    If the controller breaks then you still have the full data on the drive(s).
    If you guys reckon I should go dedicated RAID card, then I was planning on going with a 3Ware Authority in SATA, Serial ATA Raid 5 Controllers 9650SE-2LP since I've used 3Ware (9690SA SATA/SAS multi-lane) cards in other Ubuntu 8.04 server machines with no problems.
    Only a 2 channel because the case is only a 2U, so only has room for 3/4 3.5" drives. So 2 drives mirrored which will be OS/Zimbra installation and message store, then another 1/2 drives which will be used for backups.
    The backups will be copied over the network onto an Iomega Rev device for off-site archiving as well.

    So, anyone have any recommendations for the following:
    1) Dedicated hardware RAID card: yes or no?

    2) ATX motherboard/processor combo for 64bit and 8GB ECC memory support, preferably Intel/Xeon unless people really don't think it's necessary. 45nm processor could be a good thing.
    I've had good experiences with Tyan motherboards, but I've no idea what current chipsets/processor specs I should be looking for.

    3) 4GB of ECC memory, or will I need 8GB?
    Since I'm going for 64bit I may as well go with 8GB memory

    This will be serving 20 users on our local network, but there's a small chance that it might increase to 30-35.

    What do you guys recommend?
    I'm in the UK so will be looking to buy from UK suppliers.

    Thanks, Ben
    Last edited by batfastad; 10-23-2008 at 02:56 AM.

  2. #2
    uxbod's Avatar
    uxbod is offline Moderator
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    Hmmm, what volume of email will be passing through the server ? If a lot I would certainly not go for SATA and would use SCSI instead. For the price of memory I would go with 8GB so that you can also put the amavis cache etc onto a RAM disk. Tyan are great boards as I use them myself Intel or AMD as in my mind not that much difference these days, but if it was a choice I would go with a decent Opteron setup With respect to RAID I would definately go with a 3WARE card, again personal preference as that is what I use for my home server. Make sure it has a BBU though aswell.

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    batfastad is offline Elite Member
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    The mail store we have in Exchange SBS 2003 at the moment is 40GB for 20 users. Some users have small mailboxes of 200MB but others with 5GB monsters - they receive loads of advertising artwork and images.

    Yep absolutely with the BBU and the 3Ware cards. Our 3Ware 9690SA 8 port-multilane is fantastic in RAID 6 on our self-built NAS!
    Ok looks like I will go dedicated RAID

    We have a Gigabyte iRam ramdisk PCI card on our intranet mysql server, with the mysql data dir on it and it absolutely flies!
    How much RAM would I need to allocate for an amavis cache RAM disk?

    Ok so AMD Opteron would be fine, save a bit of money as well
    What socket/chipset/processor should I go with for AMD? ::Tyan Computer Corporation:: System Boards
    I would like to stick with a Tyan board if possible.

    Thanks, B

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    This looks pretty good ::Tyan Computer Corporation:: System Boards detail and you can slap in a dual core opty aswell

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    batfastad is offline Elite Member
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    Ok I think I've got to grips with the AMD boards and processor range. Definitely stick with Tyan. And I'll go with 8GB ECC memory.

    Now whether to splash the cash ourselves or go with a hosting partner or dedicated server!

    Thanks for the help

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    Hosting it yourself is far more fun, though you have to balance that against administration time etc. Good luck

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