IT setup on a small budget

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by KevlarCoated, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. KevlarCoated

    KevlarCoated Member

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    Hi guys, just looking for some recommendations on equipment for a very limited budget and recommendations on software.
    Basically my boss decided today that we need:
    Rack mount Server
    Rack mount UPS
    New network switch
    Rack
    with the budget of $5000.
    We have no IT staff, IT stuff falls to my self (the electronics engineer) and the software engineer so we need something that requires minimal maintainence

    Server requirements:
    What he have currently is a Qnap NAS that we have been using, the server will be replacing this, at this stage acting souly as a file server. I suspect in the near future it will need to run exchange as well (We are currently using a hosted solution)
    The main reason we want to move away from the QNap is that we need to log access of all files and need to have much tighter control over the security of files (these are legal requirements due the area we work in)
    We are also looking at a minimum of 6TB of use able space.

    For the network switch we need a minimum of 24 ports, we dont have any requirements for any fancy features but something fast and reliable, I saw another thread where a Cisco SG300 was recommended, the 28 port looks like it would suit our needs, or am I better off looking for a decent one on ebay?

    For the rack we are looking for something half height so 18U or 24U, I have no idea where I would find a rack at a reasonable price.

    For the UPS I would be wanting what ever is the best with in the budget, probably a minimum of 1500VA and line interactive rather than standby.


    I know the budget is limited but that's all the money that there is avaliable at the moment, so with that in mind
    The switch can be refurb'd or second hand as can the rack as long as its in good condition.
    For the server Im thinking that 6 2TB WD RE4 or Seagate ES2 drives in raid 6 might be a good option to get the storage requirements with in the budget.
    As for power and RAM as much as possible. I found a refurbed R710 on the dell outlet that looked good but it sold before I was able to get any extra info on it

    Other background information, we are a small company, we have around 10 users. Our storage requirements are due to the large amount of CAD work, software and videos that we need to store.
    Some of the products we sell are going to be ITAR restricted products and that's the main reason we need the server to be able to meet the requirements of dealing with anything ITAR.

    So Im hoping someone can give me recommendations on what to buy or where I should be looking to try and get everything.

    Also in terms of software what is the best option in terms of logging access to files (to the standards required by the ITAR treaty if anyone is familiar with it?). We are happy to run Linux or Windows but windows licences would put more strain on the budget but would be a lot easier to manage.
     
  2. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    For your switching, if you don't need anything complex, take a look at what Dell offer (they have a few 48 port models). Their switches are quite cheap, and can come with up to three years on-site service/replacement, and 4 hour response. If the cost of a new Dell switch plus that level of support is cheaper than a Cisco switch, that's a no-brainer to me.

    On the server side, if you have Linux skills in house, then I whole heartedly recommend Linux. You can tune the logging to the most verbose levels you like, and will never ever have to worry about needing more CALs when your user base grows (or wasting CALs when you get a few contractors on for a month, and then shrink back down again). And if the skills are there, you can get centralised authentication, mail/calendar/groupware servers, backup, and a whole bunch of other business functionality for free, saving you a packet again.

    If you don't have access to those sorts of skills, then obviously forking out for licensing may be your only option.
     
  3. Renza

    Renza Member

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    Use SBS 2011 Essentials if you don't need exchange. it's around $500 and does most of the AD stuff from the full sbs (edit: looks like you may want exchange later.)

    Go with second hand HP Procurve networking gear - they have lifetime warranty replacement which is quick (next day) and easy to replace.

    is a rack absolutely necessary? pedestal servers are going to be much quieter. Does the rack have a dedicated room to go in?

    what are you doing about data backups?
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  4. person

    person Member

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    +1 on not forgetting backups..

    As for second hand HP ProCurve gear.. last i looked the lifetime warranty is only with the original owner... but even new a HP ProCurve 24port managed is about $300
     
  5. OP
    OP
    KevlarCoated

    KevlarCoated Member

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    My boss has decided he wants a rack, probably just to make everything look tidy but it wont be in a dedicated room.

    For backups I think we will be using the Qnap for onsite backups and my boss takes a fully backup each week off site on an external hard drive.

    Thanks for the advice on switches, the dells certainly look to be the right price but I will have a look at second hand HPs, where is the best place to look? Grays, ebay or is there an HP equivilant to the dell outlet?
     
  6. phreeky82

    phreeky82 Member

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    Sorry I don't know specific models, but if you can get a server that takes 3.5" SATA drives as it will be cheap for a lot of storage. Of course the more you store, the more you (generally) have to back up, and I notice the topic of backup has been ignored?!!?

    UPS - APC brand, whatever seems good value is the way I'd go. So long as the UPS can tell your OS of choice to shutdown when needed.

    Switch - I'd consider a pair of 24 port ones with uplink ports. At least if one dies you can keep essential services going.

    I'd run Linux on the server, with your budget the last thing you want to be doing is paying for unnecessary license costs. The other thing I'd suggest is considering staying with a hosted solution for email etc.

    Again, backup. Do NOT rely on RAID, if that's what you were planning on doing.
     
  7. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    Not happening with new gear for under 5k. Maybe with 10k if you were edu/gov.

    What CAD software are you running? Is Vault an option (if you're an autodesk shop, even the free one) - NTFS Auditing is fucking shithouse without a third party log parser.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  8. s4mmy

    s4mmy Member

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    5k for all new is a bit steep for all 3, possible, but id stretch it a tiny bit more if you want all new gear.
    If you're happy with some second hand gear its entirely possible.

    The below is new and RRP. But hey its something.


    Dell 48 Port - $589

    APC Smart-UPS RT 2000VA RM 230V - $2,750.00

    As for a server its damn close to EOFY so if you can make the most of it NOW!
    http://www.dell.com/au/business/p/rack-server-deals $3500~ once you add more drives etc.

    A rack I wouldn't buy new... you can get a full height rack second hand for a few hundred bucks.
     
  9. Renza

    Renza Member

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    I bought all my gear second hand and had one swapped, no questions asked (was from HK, too)

    you can get the HP Proliant DL120 for around $500, It only has 4 LFF SAS/SATA slots though, although you could add an external chassis and SAS expander later for not much.

    I guess you get what you pay for at the end of the day. 6 2tb drives in Raid6 will give you 8tb of usable space. Think about how that will be backed up. a LTO5 drive will set you back another couple of grand.

    HP Procurve 1810g-24 - $350ish new

    Powerware 5130 1250VA - $600ish new

    HP DL120 (HP DL120 G7 i3-2100(1/ 1) 2GB(1/ 4) 250GB(1/ 4)CP SATA-3.5 B110i) - $500ish new

    how much storage expansion do you need?
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  10. jakey

    jakey Member

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    Rack mounting gear isnt necessarily the best option on a small scale - but... if you must :)
    Note that networking racks are (usually?) not as deep as server racks, so buy accordingly.

    As said, HP network gear is reasonably priced and has great support.

    Personally speaking, I like Liebert UPS gear (having bought APC stuff in the past). I'm currently using a couple of 3000VA UPS's with extra batteries (and network cards) where the equivilent APC setup would have been silly money. Its worth considering now, in case you need it in the future - the original APC units I bought were good value at the time, but not expandable.

    Rackmount servers... actually most/all servers are usually noisey beasts (i.e. loud). I share an office with a couple of tower servers, and certainly wouldnt want to share an office with a rack of them (which are louder IME).

    Lastly, all the (Dell) servers I've bought recently have SAS raid controllers, and while you should be able to plug a SATA drive into them - some of their controllers dont like 'non-approved' drives. Approved drives being of course supplied by the server maker and priced accordingly, it could be worth researching around this issue beforehand. I believe 'some' Dell controllers have a firmware update to allow the use of non-approved drives.

    I hate to suggest this, but it could be worth calling in an expert for advice - you'll hopefully get a final product that does everything you need, and with support available later if you need it.
     
  11. Renza

    Renza Member

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    I completely agree. +1 for this idea
     
  12. s.Neo

    s.Neo Member

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    Sounds good sitting in an ivory tower, but perhaps not so good in practice. You'll be hard pressed to find an 'expert' on an already small budget, and anybody else will just try and sell you what they know best, not necessarily what works best for you.
     
  13. cbb1935

    cbb1935 Guest

    This is pretty much the market we deal with on a day to day basis. That said, forget $5k, you won't get close to that with Windows licenses.

    Your storage requirements are large too, and with that amount of storage, genuine HP drives you'll blow your $5k on drives alone. Not to mention that if you go non HP in an HP server, HP will try to screw you around with warranty issues. Speaking of which, warranty is something you'll want.

    Budget aside, have you considered renting on finance, or a small business loan, and the just repay that? I.E Get a $10-15k loan, and drop $5k on the repayment straight away. Or even lease the servers with a rent to own agreement.

    That said:

    RACK/RACK MOUNTS
    Don't bother as you don't have the budget for a big one. Find a corner of the office and a small table and use that as your "server" area.

    If you must though:
    http://www.4cabling.com.au/products/22RU-19"-600mm-Wide-x-800mm-Deep-Server-Rack:--FLAT-PACK-.html
    $605 inc GST flat pack floor standing RACk.

    To downgrade go for a swinarm or wall mount just for your cabling and switches.

    Don't bother with rackmount kit for Server or UPS, you are wasting money on a small budget.

    SWITCHES
    HP 24 Port Gigabit Switch
    http://www.ht.com.au/part/Z1488-HP-...ktop-rack-mountable-wall-mountable/detail.hts
    $397

    UPS
    Cyberpower 900w UPS
    http://www.ht.com.au/part/AB384-Cyb...VALUE1500E-GP-UPS-900-Watt-1500-VA/detail.hts
    $256

    SERVERS
    HP DL/ML 1xx series only have a 1 year onsite warranty.
    HP DL/ML 33x series only have a 3 year parts, 1 year onsite labour warranty.

    You DO NOT want to know the price to repair something like a mainboard in an HP server outside of warranty!

    HP ML350 is where you should be aiming, but doesn't suit your storage requirements (easily). Standard 3 yr warranty though, plus you'll get enough space for your disks in there (ML330 takes a maximum of 4 drives iirc, ML350 maximum of 6).

    Get yourself SBS 2008 R2 / SBS 2011 so that you'll have Exchange capabilities in the long run.

    So Server wise something like this:
    http://www.ht.com.au/part/Z2942-HP-ML330G6-E5620-12GB-B110i-250GB2-LFF-HP7.2-SBS2011-STD/detail.hts
    $2498

    Problem is ML330s cannot do more than RAID 0/1/0+1 without an additional RAID card.

    So add: http://www.ht.com.au/part/Y4620-HP-...r-RAID-SATA-150-SAS-PCI-Express-x8/detail.hts
    $909

    Then upgrade your warranty:
    http://www.ht.com.au/part/Y7245-Ele...-service-agreement-3-years-on-site/detail.hts
    $587

    You can get Seagates Constellation ES.2 In a 3.5" and 3TB capacity. You can also get the HP servers optioned with a 3.5" sas backplane.

    So with that said:
    http://www.staticice.com.au/cgi-bin/search.cgi?q=ST33000650SS+&spos=1

    Add Segate Constellation 3TB drive x 4 (at minimum) = $600 odd each x 4 = $2400 in drives.

    Add in various additionals like cables, drive caddies (HPs dont come with full ones) and stuff and additionals CALS, AV, etc
    $1000

    PROJECTED TOTAL
    $8652 inc GST before labour or setup or markup.

    Linux can get it cheaper, but for $5k forget it as the drives are half the cost of your budget.
     
  14. BoutS

    BoutS Member

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    I had this idea, why not move some of the expense for what you need from capex to opex and invest some of that capex into speedy network storage and back up, with a cheap server for domain / policies etc, possibly DNS as well if you wanted.

    Get a decent Dell server, say around 8-9k worth with T610 kitted some 2 x 300 / 4 x 600 + dual e6507 chips and a bunch of other stuff. This was for instance on the clearance sale, if you like can call them and say you want to buy from them and they will assign you an account manager asap. You can then bust their chops real nice and its pretty easy to.

    Once you got that server down and have a price you like, go to boss and convine him to pay 88-90 bucks a week. Ring back account manager from dell, give him good news and tell you him you want to lease it.

    Now go back to the boss and have him play with google apps or ms365, depending on where you want to go, google apps would be a better option again as i dont know how many users in total you have, but if you want email with little dramas, hosted seems nice if all your concerned about is uptime and odd change here and there.

    From mem Google apps was $50 per year, i could be wrong but even then it is definitely worth a look. So 10-20 users at $50 each divied up across 12 months, again its shifting cost over a longer term and easier to manage from a cash flow perspective.

    Now you can go spend some money on a juicy nas setup and new switch, i imagine you wouldnt need to spend all that and it can be better used for add on services if needed.

    Overall not looking at what a nas would do, but if you got a decently high end bit of premade gear for soho environments and possibly kitted it out, you would get ok enough speeds for whats available from a switch you end up with. Throw in some portable usb drives for NAS backups done regularily as a backup solution.

    Google apps and server lease is very likely tax deductable for your employer anywhay, its a no brainer if they can afford another $150-$170 per month (15 users) without having an it guy in. If you unsure of the implimenting it, you can hire someone for a small fee (you would have change from the soho nas + switch purchase) and then have them do it.
     
  15. Gonadman2

    Gonadman2 Member

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    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  16. cbb1935

    cbb1935 Guest

    HP DL120 series do not support anything other than RAID 0 / 1 / 0 + 1, except if you get the performance model. It's an entry level model, and whilst good for Linux serving, not the greatest for a full blown Exchange/File Server imho.

    It also only has a 1 year warranty which you'd need to upgrade (and often not at a nice price).



    .....


    Just whatever you do OP, don't buy Fujitsu Servers (support is poor) or Acer Servers (bloody unreliable).
     
  17. PabloEscobar

    PabloEscobar Member

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    Can those who are offering SBS as a solution please answer how they plan to provide the Log reporting functions that are specified as a requirement.

    My experience with NTFS Auditing is similar to NSanity's. NTFS Auditing is terrible, and any of the free tools I could find for parsing the logs were equally terrible.

    Any tools for parsing the logs into something useful were quiet expensive

    my log also grew way quicker than I expected, causing more space to be needed just for log storage. And this was just logging access to a single, little used folder.
     
  18. Renza

    Renza Member

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    True as well, but trying to pull off a project 'on the cheap' is just going to leave you in hot water with no official support to fall back on in a disaster situation other than yourself.

    Do it once, and do it right. Getting someone in may save thousands of dollars in the future, so no point saving money upfront. (applies especially for the auditing side of things)
     
  19. OP
    OP
    KevlarCoated

    KevlarCoated Member

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    Thanks for all the responses guy, I had a feeling the price was dreaming a bit (or a lot)
    I will try to convince my boss that rackmount isnt a good idea due to cost and noise.

    As for the outsourcing of email, we currently have a hosted exchange service that works reasonably well but there is talk that all of our emails with certain customers will become ITAR documents (which is ridiculous) which may for us to change what we do to meet compliance. Im personally a fan of Google apps but my boss doesn't like it for some reason, not sure why and it would have the same issues as our current system.

    As the consensus is that a server with that amount of storage is a bit a bit of a dream with in the budget are there any off the shelf NAS solutions that can provide the logging features that we need?

    Backups will be done with external USB drives (taken offsite weekly) and the QNap (on site?)
     
  20. dink

    dink Member

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    These guys do an 18RU rack with fans and bits for $550 delivered. 18RU is enough for patching, phone system, server and network gear for a small office.
     

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