Jump to content
porterj5

Recomendations on small business server

Recommended Posts

Posted · Original PosterOP

My office is a small CPA firm with 7 employees and we are currently looking at replacing our horribly out dated server.  Currently we have a Windows 2003 Server Dell Poweredge 840. I believe Microsoft is no longer supporting this version and are no longer issuing updates. We are also at the same time switching to a new IT vendor as our previous one is getting out of the business. The previous IT vendor said we could probably go with a refurbished server and be ok and the new guy is recommending we get a new one from dell for $4,800 plus tax and set up costs. 

 

I feel like the one he spec'd out from dell is over kill for what we use it for. We have 7 employees and the main use is managing the domain with user log ins for the client computers, managing our virus software from TrendMicro, and working as our network storage for all of our client files.  We would also like to be able to VPN in to the office to access local resources. The only other two items of concern are making sure it is secure as we have sensitive client information on it and that it is stable. If it goes down we are dead in the water for productivity.

 

I have seen some refurbished servers on Newegg business for under $500 excluding hard drives and OS.  I would really appreciate any thoughts on if the recommended configuration is over kill and what to look for if we go with a cheaper refurbished.

Dell Quote.pdf

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, porterj5 said:

My office is a small CPA firm with 7 employees and we are currently looking at replacing our horribly out dated server.  Currently we have a Windows 2003 Server Dell Poweredge 840. I believe Microsoft is no longer supporting this version and are no longer issuing updates. We are also at the same time switching to a new IT vendor as our previous one is getting out of the business. The previous IT vendor said we could probably go with a refurbished server and be ok and the new guy is recommending we get a new one from dell for $4,800 plus tax and set up costs. 

 

I feel like the one he spec'd out from dell is over kill for what we use it for. We have 7 employees and the main use is managing the domain with user log ins for the client computers, managing our virus software from TrendMicro, and working as our network storage for all of our client files.  We would also like to be able to VPN in to the office to access local resources. The only other two items of concern are making sure it is secure as we have sensitive client information on it and that it is stable. If it goes down we are dead in the water for productivity.

 

I have seen some refurbished servers on Newegg business for under $500 excluding hard drives and OS.  I would really appreciate any thoughts on if the recommended configuration is over kill and what to look for if we go with a cheaper refurbished.

Dell Quote.pdf

you should build it yourself with rgb leds and a i7 7700k lol but seriously its not to bad to build it yourself in one of linus's previous videos he uses old server hardware to make a pc and if you built it like a pc like an older gen, slapped some hard drives in there and windows server 2016 you should be good to go, then again what do i know about servers look up how to build one


I5 6600 / G1 1060 / 16 GB Samsung / Carbide Air 240 / 450BT Evga / Adata SU700 / WD Blue 1TB

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I suggest buying used/ refurbished. Many large corporations frequently update there server hardware to optimize workflow, resulting in high quality systems going on sale for very cheap. 


******If you paste in text into your post, please click the "remove formatting" button for night theme users.******

CPU- Intel 6700k OC to 4.69 Ghz GPU- NVidia Geforce GTX 970 (MSI) RAM- 16gb DDR4 2400 SSD-2x500gb samsung 850 EVO(SATA) Raid 0 HDD- 2tb Seagate Case- H440 Red w/ custom lighting Motherboard - MSI Z170 Gaming A OS- Windows 10 Mouse- Razer Naga Epic Chroma, Final Mouse 2016 turney proKeyboard- Corsair k70 Cherry MX brown

Link to post
Share on other sites

For 7 employees, you shouldn't need anything too beefy. To be completely honest, I'd probably go down the route of sorting out a second hand server with VM ESXi install on it (could probably buy two for the price of a new one). If your data and servers are mission critical, it is always nice to be able to boot up immidiately from a backed up VM image. Even if you don't have a second server to boot from, you should at least be able to boot it up in a VMWare Workstation (not recommended, but I have done it before to keep data accessible whilst you sort out the issues). 

 

On the other hand, if you go down the route of upgrading to Server 2016, CAL's and licenses are going to set you back at least a grand, so there's no point skimping on the hardware supporting the software. It's an investment, and you should look at the ROI over a 5 year period. Also take into account, migration costs and downtime. Another benefit of running VM's, is that you can migrate your current server to a VM on a new server with no downtime.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its a difficult question to answer, as its a business and at a small scale.  

The bigger issue is one of a the cost of buying the solution from the IT integrator vs the costs associated with any issues that may come up.   So it really comes down to how competent you are and how comfortable you feel dealing with issues.   I would be inclined to say buy the server from the IT guy, with my business hat on.

 

What a lot of people do not understand, is that you are not buying the hardware, you are buying the solution when it comes to a solutions integrator selling you something if they are going to support it and you long term. (Provided they are actually any good, and not a cowboy)

 

If you are going to roll your own you need at least:

 

Intel Xeon for ECC support

ECC memory

Hardware raid, raid 1 for boot or raid 6 for data.

Dual power supplies.

Proper cooling,  (A number enthusiast cases are f$#king sh#t when it comes to hard drive cooling)

 

The bigger thing you need to think about is backups.

 

Attached is my attempt, you can probably take 10-20% off that will further discounts,  Sadly its near twice what the other guy quoted, looking at $7-8k with discounts.

 

Dell_CPA.pdf

 

 

Having said all of the above, I roll my own, when it comes to a lot of the IT system.  But we have two full time IT staff and a lot larger scale,  systems are designed around having plenty of redundant hardware when at larger scale.  ie in your case you are dealing with 1 server, so individual component reliability is a lot more important, than when dealing with redundant clusters of 2-3 servers in large environments.

 

You cannot have gracefully failure, when you have a single point of failure, so do your best not have it fail, and when it does fail, ensure that the restoration is timely.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its great when you build your own system because you can tailor it to your needs but consider that you are now essentially "warrantying" that machine so any possible incompatibilities in hardware / software would be on you.


My system-Core i7 6950X, AsusX99 DeluxeII, 128gb Crucial DDR4, Corsair 900D Titan X, Asus Thunderbolt EXII Card,Quadro M4000,Intel X540 network card

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, porterj5 said:

We would also like to be able to VPN in to the office to access local resources. The only other two items of concern are making sure it is secure as we have sensitive client information on it and that it is stable. If it goes down we are dead in the water for productivity.

Have a look at a fortigate / fortiwifi box, (non wifi / wifi variants)  You can do two factor authentication for the VPN and proper firewalling for security.  30E or 61E if you want to get more serious, and you can expand with forti-switches etc.

 

The reality is that what you do on a personal and home level, is very different to what you would do in a business environment, as the costs of the hardware are minimal compared to the implications of it all turning to Sh#t.

You do not want to be the guy that put the system together him on the cheap, just to have it all fall over and explain to the boss that they do not have a business anymore because the HDD died and there was not a backup, or that they need to pay some Russian Mafia because they encrypted all the data.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is something to think about. I am sure all the software requirements you listed can be achieved in Windows 10. For a $2-$3K budget, I would setup a self built / store built tower and run Windows 10 and get rid of domain. In my opinion, domains just aren't worth the costs of setup and maintenance for a small office. 

Then make sure your PC acts as a secondary backup location for storage as well as nightly backups for your server at night. You can use Macrium Reflect free to do this. 

 

I would then subscribe to an online backup service as your tertiary backup location.

 

The above suggestion is less about hardware and more about finding someone to help you setup data storage for when sh*t hits the fan and you need to quickly bring back client data sets. Hardware will fail, buildings will catch on fire and burglaries will happen. How do you recover from all of these is the better question given the business you are in. 

 

Hope that helps. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 17.3.2017 at 9:31 PM, porterj5 said:

My office is a small CPA firm with 7 employees and we are currently looking at replacing our horribly out dated server.  Currently we have a Windows 2003 Server Dell Poweredge 840. I believe Microsoft is no longer supporting this version and are no longer issuing updates. We are also at the same time switching to a new IT vendor as our previous one is getting out of the business. The previous IT vendor said we could probably go with a refurbished server and be ok and the new guy is recommending we get a new one from dell for $4,800 plus tax and set up costs. 

 

I feel like the one he spec'd out from dell is over kill for what we use it for. We have 7 employees and the main use is managing the domain with user log ins for the client computers, managing our virus software from TrendMicro, and working as our network storage for all of our client files.  We would also like to be able to VPN in to the office to access local resources. The only other two items of concern are making sure it is secure as we have sensitive client information on it and that it is stable. If it goes down we are dead in the water for productivity.

 

I have seen some refurbished servers on Newegg business for under $500 excluding hard drives and OS.  I would really appreciate any thoughts on if the recommended configuration is over kill and what to look for if we go with a cheaper refurbished.

Dell Quote.pdf

do you guys have a professional IT guy to set this stuff up?

 

For the stuff you need you might also want to look into getting one of the Synology business solutions as none of the requested thing requires much processing power your main concern would be drive speed and redundancy.

 

something like this.

https://www.synology.com/de-de/products/DS3617xs

is already huge overkill but shows whats possible, additionally you should get another possibly lower power to have a backup cause redundancy |= backup

Synology has the possibility for AES encryption build in and if you wanted you could even have security cameras connected to it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Pixel5 said:

do you guys have a professional IT guy to set this stuff up?

 

For the stuff you need you might also want to look into getting one of the Synology business solutions as none of the requested thing requires much processing power your main concern would be drive speed and redundancy.

 

something like this.

https://www.synology.com/de-de/products/DS3617xs

is already huge overkill but shows whats possible, additionally you should get another possibly lower power to have a backup cause redundancy |= backup

Synology has the possibility for AES encryption build in and if you wanted you could even have security cameras connected to it.

Unfortunately the Synology NAS only does storage so wont host the few Windows Server VMs required, even though some NAS's have the ability to host VMs they are terrible at it compared to the likes of ESXi.

 

Also that specific Synology NAS you linked costs $2,700 USD without disks. so if you add disks on to that your actually getting very close to the quoted Dell server but with lower CPU and RAM specs and overall less flexibility and no Windows Server license.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/18/2017 at 9:31 AM, porterj5 said:

My office is a small CPA firm with 7 employees and we are currently looking at replacing our horribly out dated server.  Currently we have a Windows 2003 Server Dell Poweredge 840. I believe Microsoft is no longer supporting this version and are no longer issuing updates. We are also at the same time switching to a new IT vendor as our previous one is getting out of the business. The previous IT vendor said we could probably go with a refurbished server and be ok and the new guy is recommending we get a new one from dell for $4,800 plus tax and set up costs. 

 

I feel like the one he spec'd out from dell is over kill for what we use it for. We have 7 employees and the main use is managing the domain with user log ins for the client computers, managing our virus software from TrendMicro, and working as our network storage for all of our client files.  We would also like to be able to VPN in to the office to access local resources. The only other two items of concern are making sure it is secure as we have sensitive client information on it and that it is stable. If it goes down we are dead in the water for productivity.

 

I have seen some refurbished servers on Newegg business for under $500 excluding hard drives and OS.  I would really appreciate any thoughts on if the recommended configuration is over kill and what to look for if we go with a cheaper refurbished.

Dell Quote.pdf

Considering that quote includes Windows Server 2016 license and required CALs plus the hardware specs is fairly decent I'd say that it is a good deal. However most quotes have a confidentiality clause on them so you probably shouldn't have shared it and only indicated a rough price.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

Thanks for every one's feed back!  The only problem with the Synology solution is managing the windows domain and users.  I do not think we can do that with a NAS device. Our other employees already bother me enough about their passwords if they use a different computer even though with the domain it is the same username and password regardless of what computer they log into. I don't want to imagine how difficult they would be if they had the possibility to actually have a different password on different computers.

 

leadeater, our tech vendor sent me the quote and didn't mention anything about a confidentiality clause and I didn't see one in what he sent me. I will keep in mind to look out for those in the future though.

 

I think I am leaning more towards a cheaper refurb at the moment.  Went a Xeon E3 be sufficient for the number of users we have that would be on the domain?

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, porterj5 said:

Thanks for every one's feed back!  The only problem with the Synology solution is managing the windows domain and users.  I do not think we can do that with a NAS device. Our other employees already bother me enough about their passwords if they use a different computer even though with the domain it is the same username and password regardless of what computer they log into. I don't want to imagine how difficult they would be if they had the possibility to actually have a different password on different computers.

 

Synology has managing windows domains and users build in, if you just want to take a look at their interface there is a demo on their website.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

Pixel, do you have a link to this on their site?  All I can find is information on how to join the Synology to an existing domain.  I can not find information on hosting it from the NAS.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 17/03/2017 at 4:31 PM, porterj5 said:

My office is a small CPA firm with 7 employees and we are currently looking at replacing our horribly out dated server.  Currently we have a Windows 2003 Server Dell Poweredge 840. I believe Microsoft is no longer supporting this version and are no longer issuing updates. We are also at the same time switching to a new IT vendor as our previous one is getting out of the business. The previous IT vendor said we could probably go with a refurbished server and be ok and the new guy is recommending we get a new one from dell for $4,800 plus tax and set up costs. 

 

I feel like the one he spec'd out from dell is over kill for what we use it for. We have 7 employees and the main use is managing the domain with user log ins for the client computers, managing our virus software from TrendMicro, and working as our network storage for all of our client files.  We would also like to be able to VPN in to the office to access local resources. The only other two items of concern are making sure it is secure as we have sensitive client information on it and that it is stable. If it goes down we are dead in the water for productivity.

 

I have seen some refurbished servers on Newegg business for under $500 excluding hard drives and OS.  I would really appreciate any thoughts on if the recommended configuration is over kill and what to look for if we go with a cheaper refurbished.

Dell Quote.pdf

So, before you can properly make any decisions, you need to decide what's more important:

1. Lower cost, or

2. Uptime/reliability

 

Yes, that server is overkill. It's mostly overkill because of the CPU (10c/20t) and the amount of RAM (32GB).

 

If all you're doing is AD for 7 users, plus AV, plus storage server role, then you realistically can get away with a 4c/8t CPU or higher, w/ 8GB of RAM.

 

The big costs here are a few things:

1. OS License (Unavoidable unless you want to go Linux - Windows Server 2016 Standard is like $1000)

2. HDD's - the drives included in the quote are enterprise grade. Save some money and buy 4x WD NAS Red or WD NAS Red Pro drives instead

3. On-site 3-year ProSupport Dell Warranty - this warranty includes next-day delivery and on-site tech install for any part

 

I would see if your Sales guy can do the following:

1. Price out a system that includes a 4c/8t, 8c/8t, or 8c/16t Xeon CPU

2. Drop the RAM amount to 8GB

3. Add in a couple of cheaper SSD's or small HDD's (500GB max - just for host OS + applications), in RAID1

4. Add in cheaper HDD's - as noted above, WD Red or Red Pro drives are great for your application

 

See how that changes the price. I'd also get him to price out a Dell Server with no HDD's, and then price out just buying the drives from NewEgg or Amazon. If he can't beat retail pricing, he shouldn't be in the game.

 

Anyway, as I said in the beginning, you need to put a price on lower cost vs uptime/reliability. A lot of the cost of getting a new Dell Server like the T430, is that 3-year ProSupport business class warranty. We purchase it on every single computer/server we buy at work, because downtime = lost productivity = lost money.

 

If the PSU dies, they'll have a new one onsite tomorrow. If the Motherboard dies, they'll have a tech show up with a new one to install tomorrow. Etc.

 

If you can wait a few weeks with downed hardware? Then buy refurbished or used. Or build your own. Building your own, still has warranties, and will save money certainly, but if your motherboard dies, you'll have to pack it up, ship it out, and wait 1-2 weeks (or longer) for a repair.


* Intel i7-4770K * ASRock Z97 Anniversary * 16GB RAM * 750w Seasonic Modular PSU *

* Crucial M4 128GB SSD (Primary) * Hitachi 500GB HDD (Secondary) *

* Gigabyte HD 7950 WF3 * SATA Blu-Ray Writer * Logitech g710+ * Windows 10 Pro x64 *

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

2. Drop the RAM amount to 8GB

I'd go with 16GB and exercise virtualization rights of being able to run two instances on the same physical server, fundamentally it's a bad idea to run any application or shares on a DC so 16GB will give enough headroom and for not much extra cost.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, leadeater said:

I'd go with 16GB and exercise virtualization rights of being able to run two instances on the same physical server, fundamentally it's a bad idea to run any application or shares on a DC so 16GB will give enough headroom and for not much extra cost.

Well.... sure... but I was assuming he wasn't going to be doing it properly like that :P

 

If he was going to virtualize, then the 10c/20t w/ 32GB RAM setup originally proposed would kickass at that role.

 

But I digress, bumping up to 16GB and using VM's to segregate things is ideal.


* Intel i7-4770K * ASRock Z97 Anniversary * 16GB RAM * 750w Seasonic Modular PSU *

* Crucial M4 128GB SSD (Primary) * Hitachi 500GB HDD (Secondary) *

* Gigabyte HD 7950 WF3 * SATA Blu-Ray Writer * Logitech g710+ * Windows 10 Pro x64 *

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

To be perfectly honest, I'd suggest renting a dedicated server, remotely and using some form of TCPA tunnel to ensure a good connection. What you get with renting is constant support, no need to worry about paying for dead parts and almost 100% guaranteed up time, I doubt your building had 2 massive backup generators. I run a hosting company myself and we have 5 clients currently who rent remote business server solutions from us.

 

It also can end up being much more affordable. Just throwing it out there :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, The Hound said:

To be perfectly honest, I'd suggest renting a dedicated server, remotely and using some form of TCPA tunnel to ensure a good connection. What you get with renting is constant support, no need to worry about paying for dead parts and almost 100% guaranteed up time, I doubt your building had 2 massive backup generators. I run a hosting company myself and we have 5 clients currently who rent remote business server solutions from us.

 

It also can end up being much more affordable. Just throwing it out there :)

Who needs generators? A couple of good UPS's w/ cross pollination (each PSU in the server going to each PSU) would be 100% acceptable. If the power goes out, having a remote server won't matter anyway unless everything is already on a UPS.


* Intel i7-4770K * ASRock Z97 Anniversary * 16GB RAM * 750w Seasonic Modular PSU *

* Crucial M4 128GB SSD (Primary) * Hitachi 500GB HDD (Secondary) *

* Gigabyte HD 7950 WF3 * SATA Blu-Ray Writer * Logitech g710+ * Windows 10 Pro x64 *

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

Who needs generators? A couple of good UPS's w/ cross pollination (each PSU in the server going to each PSU) would be 100% acceptable. If the power goes out, having a remote server won't matter anyway unless everything is already on a UPS.

Oop, there's more start-up costs. Running your own equipment now-a-days is just getting outdated, especially with how fast consumer and business grade internet is getting.

Another one of his requirements was that they would be able to connect to their server externally to the office, again made easier by a server, in a data centre with a nice large chunk of bandwidth and pretty much by standard a gigabit connection.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

For a remote server, does any one have any recommendations? So far what I have looked at is about $500 per month so after a year of hosting we could have paid for a new on site server.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, The Hound said:

Oop, there's more start-up costs. Running your own equipment now-a-days is just getting outdated, especially with how fast consumer and business grade internet is getting.

Another one of his requirements was that they would be able to connect to their server externally to the office, again made easier by a server, in a data centre with a nice large chunk of bandwidth and pretty much by standard a gigabit connection.

That startup cost doesn't disappear. If you need to survive a power outage (Your reason, presumably, for bringing up generators to begin with), then you need staff clients and all networking equipment on UPS's anyway. Yes, it does increase the cost a bit, because the network UPS will need to be beefier, but a single server doesn't draw that much power, so it's not like we're talking thousands of dollars difference.

 

Furthermore, some places have cheaper faster internet, yes. But he's sure as hell not getting a CONSUMER internet plan if he's relying on an off-site cloud or data center based server solution. Business grade internet - good business grade internet, with a high level SLA - can get very expensive. And his internet costs would likely go up if he's relying on an off-site server.

 

I'm not saying off-site cannot work - it can, and many people do it. But you also cannot dismiss self-hosted servers either.

 

The OP or the company he works for needs to do a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of his options. Pricing out all the different options of a locally hosted server (and whatever equipment goes with it) vs a remote server or hosted solution of some kind, and all of the equipment/services that go with that.

 

It's not clear cut - both solutions have advantages and disadvantages, and each company has specific needs that need to be compared and addressed.


* Intel i7-4770K * ASRock Z97 Anniversary * 16GB RAM * 750w Seasonic Modular PSU *

* Crucial M4 128GB SSD (Primary) * Hitachi 500GB HDD (Secondary) *

* Gigabyte HD 7950 WF3 * SATA Blu-Ray Writer * Logitech g710+ * Windows 10 Pro x64 *

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×