Server advice needed: replacing XServe

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by erzeszut, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. erzeszut macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2007

    Current situation: Two XServes. One G5 from 2005 (secondary), one Xeon from 2008 (primary).

    The primary server is an Open Directory master, serving around 125 users. 1TB of data storage, set up as a RAID 5. Only 50% or so capacity. A few web items too.

    The secondary server is the OD backup, and used for some small web services, which I could easily migrate to another server offsite as needed. It is also used as a Time Machine server for a few critical Macs.

    Our department (I'm at a University) is in the process of merging with another. I will eventually need to support around 225 users. Their total data storage is greater than ours; I will eventually be responsible for around 6-7TB of data, and need some room for expansion.

    The other department is currently using some old Windows servers, which I would like to retire. I would also like to take this time to replace my Apple servers, which are getting a bit long in the tooth. I'd also like to be able to join my new servers to our campus Active Directory, and allow users to log on with their campus authentication.

    So. Should I be looking at Mac Pro or Mac Mini? My current primary XServe, the workhorse, has a 2.8 gig Xeon processor, quad-core, and only 4GB of RAM. The only services turned on are OD, file serving, and web serving. It generaly reports as running at about 20-25% of CPU utilization. Of course, the new server will need to handle about twice the user load and around 6-8x the data storage.

    Budget wise, of course, the Mac Mini is tempting. I could buy two Minis, use one as primary file server and OD Master with a 12TB Thunderbolt promise RAID array (10TB usable), the second as secondary, OD Backup and for my web needs. I could get both of these for under six grand. They would fit easily on a shelf inside my existing server rack.

    Or, I could get one (or two) Mac Pros. From a horsepower standpoint, one Mac Pro could obviously do everything I need. But I kind of like the redundancy of having two Mac Minis, especially with them being OD replicas. If the primary were to crap out, I just switch the Promise RAID to the secondary, and life goes on.

    I welcome any thoughts on this, especially from those of you using Mini or Pro servers in a departmental / small business context.
  2. burne macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2007
    Haarlem, the Netherlands
    Are you stuck on OS-X? You got me thinking about LDAP slaves on (my preference) cheap iron from supermicro, and use a iMac or macmini as administrative console.

    But, I'd go for two mini's, a thunderbolt-connected diskarray and a good backup-solution for your files. Remember, current mini's are incredibly fast compared to your old iron, so they should be easily able to handle anything you're doing right now. Yes, having i7's is a step back if compared to current Xeons, but a i7 now comes quite close to a 4 year old Xeon. Memorybandwidth, I/O-bandwith, even simple stuff like disk-throughput has been growing year after year.
  3. erzeszut thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2007
    Thanks. That was kind of my thought process as well. Even though going from XServes to Minis seems like a "downgrade," considering that my XServes are 7 and 4 years old, respectively, it's probably not.

    I hadn't thought about using cheap boxes as LDAP shares; I may even be able to repurpose some existing hardware. I've liked the XServes since they're an "all in one" solution, but I can see the other side too. Thanks.

    As far as backup, I'm currently using external FW800 drives and an Automator script to simply dump the data to the drives each night. With only about 600GB currently, that has worked just fine. When my data increases by a factor of 10, I may need to change my strategy.
  4. will waters macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Great Britain
    Mac Mini

    Mac mini is the way forward....

    Or if you want a mac pro, wait, as some new ones would be about to come out any day now (and rumours has it there will be a rack mountable version)
  5. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    If it is currently plural perhaps you may need to go to three mini setup.

    OD master
    File server master
    OD secondary / File server secondary.

    Budget wise that is a bit bigger though.

    You need to profile the network I/O load on both Mac and Windows servers to see if merging them would create a hotspot. Preferably doing some high load periods (everyone logining in and grabbing some storage around the same time). Remember only have a single 1GbE pipe to go through if double up the master services on a single box. I'm sure there should be a Thunderbolt solution to more network I/O to the mini but it may be easier to even out workload by splitting it.

    As long as both master servers are up the secondary shouldn't get much traffic. Even if one master goes down the secondary would be able to handle it. If both fail then just deliver dimished service levels since limping along.

    This wasn't done already because the OS X Server version not aligned (compatible) with the Active Directory versions ? Or just a significant project deferring? If the latter then doubling down on merger and AD coupling are probably best done as two separate project with substantive time go get back to "normal steady state" between them.

    Back up of 12TB either will likely go to another "more than 12TB" box or to tape. The budget for backup is going to be significantly larger than some external FW drives.

    If the secondary also has storage duties services then it probably would be good to have its storage outside the box also. The secondary it is just as likely to fail as the primary. What is unlikely is that they both internally fail at the same time. You may have to "pull and replace" either one. Yet another reason a third as a 'cold stand-by' ( which could stand in for either) works.

    For example if two internal disks then each could be a clone of the "master"/"secondary" OS disks. Then substitution is a "boot to which OS volume" from a cold stand-by. That's a different mix than have all three active.

    The knock on the mini's is going to be if a hard drive fails then you have power down time to replace. If the primary user storage is in external boxes where can do a hot swap of drives then negative that issue. The internal OS image storage failure risk can be reduced a coupe of ways.
  6. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    mac mini server to promise pegasus works pretty well for your needs.

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