spec me a mac pro server

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jgbr, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. jgbr macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #1
    Spec me a mac Pro server

    It must be able to cope with

    email server
    user accounts/user hosting
    backup/data management
    internet gateway for company
    cope with windows users
    redundancy (ie raid)

    20 or so users.
     
  2. seek3r macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    #2
    Hard to do without knowing more about your actual usage. Without knowing how much email you guys get hammered with, the workloads of your users, etc you can't get a decent spec.

    I will say that I would *not* do all that with one machine, 2 at least would be better both from a a load balancing standpoint and a redundancy one. More is even better, particularly for things like the gatewa, domain management, email, and file hosting, all of which can generate significant loads by themselves (and a couple of which might be better handled by dedicated appliances depending on your IT design and administration)
     
  3. Joshuarocks macrumors 6502

    Joshuarocks

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    Mar 12, 2011
    Location:
    Somewhere in Cyberspace
    #3
    Hmm.. everything the op wants to do I already do on a 6-core mac pro and without any server software(snow leopard server).
     
  4. jgbr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #4
    Thanks for responses

    Its jsut running an academic department, prob 5 users logged in at once, secretary, few databases, email service, wiki etc.

    Was looking for guidelines on ram and proccessor speeds mainly?

    Will not be hosting site due to slow connection.
     
  5. seek3r macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    #5
    For how many users? For what kind of work?

    The point is the solution is workload dependent. For example, at home my mac mini + a DS409 suffice for my server needs, but when I used to work as an admin, running a compute cluster for a research group in the chem dept. at my university I had 6 dedicated servers to handle the group's files, backup, accounts, SSH gateway access, etc + the cluster's 2 head nodes (and 140 machines in the cluster itself).

    To get back on topic...


    It sounds like I/O and memory will be your major issues, I'd suggest a dual proc configuration so you have the extra 4 memory slots and the extra thread proc power. I'm tempted to say an SSD system disk (or 2 in RAID1 or 4 in RAID10 depending on how hard those disks will be hit, how critical the system install is, and how much money you have to burn) plus some sort of external array for your data storage (and don't forget some sort of actual backup system! RAID != backup, just failure protection).

    Outside of those generalities though it still comes down to workload. What are your users going to be logged in doing? How much email will it need to handle (and is spam filtering done by a separate appliance or will it be handled on-machine)? How much are the DBs going to be used? etc
     
  6. jgbr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #6
    See this is the debate we are having

    We dont have a fast enough internet connection to host the site, but do have a connection to provide the email server element. However the machine still has to act as the internet gateway, email server, user management (including user areas) , internal intranet etc.

    This is also one server or many servers kind of question too?

    I wonder for security if its wise to dump all of that onto one machine too
     
  7. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #7
    Since you are still at the debating stage I'll throw my two cents in. I've admined a few small business over the last 5 years so I do have some professional experience to share.

    I'd build the network like this:

    internet ----> dedicated firewall\router (think small Cisco, Baracuda, etc...)

    On the other side of the router I'd locate my db\wiki\intranet server. That's the box we're talking about and unless you've got some serious hammering of that system going on I'd be comfortable running that on a properly spec'd Mac Mini (lotsa RAM) with a proper backup system.

    Here's the basic specs on the Mini:
    2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    8GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
    Dual 500GB Serial ATA Drives (internal to the mini)
    Promise SmartStor DS4600 4x2TB RAID System (external device)
    Mac mini - AppleCare Protection Plan

    $2647 before tax\discounts

    You would have 6.5 terabytes of storage, 500 gigs (raid 1) internally with reasonable performance and a 6 terabyte raid 5 array on the Promise box. Since you haven't mentioned anything that would require unusually large amounts or speed storage I'd assume thats enough. If not, lemme know and we can look at some other options.

    I'd outsource the email server to Gmail since it is free under 50 users. If you've never hosted an email server it is all fine and good until it goes down or you need to upgrade your storage. Then you start gettings calls early in the morning, on the weekend or while you're on vacation from frustrated users. I personally see little to no advantage to in-house email for most smaller organizations.

    If you wanted to stay in house with your email you could still do it on the mini but I suspect if you had the full twenty users really pushing the system that would be more than I'd be comfortable with. But, unless there's some specific reason you need to host the email internally I'd recommend outsourcing it. If you really hate Google there's plenty of other options out there for small companies.
     
  8. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #8
    Make sure you get Mac OS X server. It'll make things easier.

    Drives are going to be your biggest issue. I really really think SSD is overkill for this, but get a few drives. Raid 5 or external backup.

    Up the RAM to 8 gigs.

    I've seen 400 mhz G3s do more work. You really don't need to go all out.

    You can't go with a Mini because of the gateway requirement. Only one ethernet port.

    I wouldn't worry about having all these services on one machine. You're really not pushing the hardware all that much.

    Hosting your own email server is not that big of a deal if you are using OS X server, as long as you are willing to catch flack if the server catches fire, and then you can't receive any email.
     
  9. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #9
    Its true you can use a Mac OS X system as a gateway device but for the sake of higher security and ease of administration I'd prefer using a separate device. That also gets you away from the cost issues of buying a Mac Pro just for an ethernet port.
     
  10. gabicava83 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    #10
    Hi,

    Would like to add to this.

    Use external email hosting, gmail is an awesome suggestion, I would recommend them as well as anything else within reason.

    Additionally to that, if you are a business, you should ideally have a fixed public IP address for your email server, if it's dynamic, using DYDNS can assist.

    Spam is another thing and viruses you need to consideration ( I know, even if you have a mac)

    Make things as easy as possible.

    Sonicwall is another good brand for firewalls and if you want to use VoIP, you have many options.

    Either or, good luck :)




     
  11. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #11
    I don't know if I'd be too worried about the cost of a Mac Pro... The Mac Mini system as specced is just as expensive as a Mac Pro, with the downside of cramming everything through a Firewire 800 port and slower performance.

    A Mac Pro is a more integrated solution, with internal drives. Less hassle than a Mini. Also, if a drive fails in a Pro, it's far far easier to replace than a drive in a Mini.

    As far as a gateway... it depends. I don't know if it buys you that much for security (as your server would likely go into a DMZ anyway), and it certainly has advantages, like if you're running a VPN server.
     
  12. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #12
    The mini I specc'd has a 4 drive raid 5 array on it thats $1200. You couldn't do a Mac Pro with those specs for that price.

    Still, I agree with the rest of your post. I just find it lowers the difficulty level of troubleshooting if the basic components are separated into different devices. My approach isn't the only way to do it, but it is the way I prefer. :)

    To each his own.
     
  13. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #13
    Yeah... I don't really get this. You're putting a 4 drive RAID on Firewire 800. Why? Firewire 800 can barely handle one modern drive.

    Except for the entire Firewire 800 problem...

    Mac Mini servers are good for small groups. Half dozen people, maybe a home. I wouldn't host users on a Mac Mini server. Over FW800, you're talking about squeezing multiple people's files and email into the bandwidth of a single drive.
     
  14. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #14
    If only we had a Mac Mini Server with Thunderbolt and that Promise RAID in our hands already *cough cough* APPLE *cough*
     
  15. jgbr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #15
    Many thanks, id like this debate to go on.

    I am considering outsourcing our server and going Windows/MS exchange with that.

    Obviously that seriously lightens the loads in the office.

    I'm refusing in having a microsoft server on site, so the "internal" network will be all mac.

    I had considered virtualisting Microsoft software but i guess we are talking serious mac pro power for that.

    If i wanted a couple of mac pros in the office, what would people recommend...one as backup and one as mainframe?
     
  16. gabicava83 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    #16
    I think youre trying to do too much without looking at what you actually need, the essentials.

    You have many options available.

    20 users isn't too many :)

    I'd say, use gmail or exchange online..... Use an online provider for your second level backups at block level.

    You have a clean slate, just keep it simple.



     
  17. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #17
    QFT, this is really the point I think a few of us are trying to make.

    You don't really need hosted Exchange. Its overly complicated and way too expensive unless you have a specific reason why you need it. Gmail is fine, free and essentially requires about 1\10 the administration of Exchange. Even hosted Exchange is a lot more management that you probably want to deal with.

    I'll be honest with you, the 6tb Promise Raid box is more a WAG than anything else. The OP doesn't know what he needs, its a decent way to get a mountain of storage and the performance and reliability would be good for most workgroups. If there's a need for a more sophisticated solution for some reason the OP should tell us and we can direct him to a product that might better fit his needs. Certainly there's plenty of NAS devices with gb ethernet connections that would fill the bill and attach to a Mini. If his needs went beyond that I'd say Mac Pro with internal raid would be the logical choice. But I'm not going to recommend that unless theres a reason and the OP doesn't have one yet.
     
  18. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #18
    To virtualize Windows Server does not require serious Mac Pro power. If you have a very large budget and must spend it on something I'd recommend you hire a consultant who deals with these network environments. I've found them to be quite interesting people and I've learned a ton from them. Maybe you can arrange a tour of some of their recent installations and get some ideas. But, buying a redundant pair of Mac Pros so you can virtualize a failover array of Windows Server sounds like a great way to blow about $20,000. Remember, more isn't always better.

    Grab yourself a Cisoc, Sonicwall or Barracuda gateway device. Preferably something with VPN support and content filtering options. You'll have a ball learning all the ins and outs of those devices. They are quite more complex than you can imagine. Get a fully loaded Mac Mini with a firewire raid 5 device for your internal needs. Outsource your email to Google. You'll have completed the installation with a budget easily under $4,000 and you'll have a reliable, well performing workgroup that you can administer. Its the best way to learn the ropes and then in time you can perhaps pursue this further as your workgroup expands with more hardware\software investments.
     
  19. jgbr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #19
    I was more thinking a two mac pro setup

    one as backup and one as workhorse


    recommendations on spec?

    I need mac pros due to hard drive capacity.
     
  20. gabicava83, Apr 19, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011

    gabicava83 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    #20
    Hi,

    Mac Pro and hard drive capicity = not the greatest.

    You're original requests are as follows;

    Spec me a mac Pro server

    It must be able to cope with

    email server
    user accounts/user hosting
    backup/data management
    internet gateway for company
    cope with windows users
    redundancy (ie raid)

    20 or so users.


    Need to know a bit more.

    1. What OS's will you have in your office?
    2. How many internet lines do you have coming in and @ what speed?
    3. What network switches do you have and what speed?
    4. How much data will you need to store and what is your expected growth in the next 6 months?
    5. Do you need to authenticate users i.e have restrictions in place?
    6. If the above is so, do you have Windows Active Directory in place?

    I would have the following;

    1) Internet >>>> Dedicated router/firewall >>>> Network Switch
    2) Host emails with Gmail
    3) Create own file server with FreeNAS / Openfiler
    4) Leave it as a 'workgroup' if no restrictions are required.
    5) use OPENDNS for your DNS queries and basic web filtering
    6) If data isn't too large, use JungleDisk for your data backups.
     
  21. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #21
    Why?
     
  22. jgbr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #22
    Ok two mac pro servers

    (Security/gateway taken over by dedicated cisco hardware)

    One mac Pro:

    Office Server workhorse - user control, intranet, wiki etc etc

    Second Mac Pro - redundancy server, backup, security suite ( IE entire server encrypted)

    Third Mac Pro - Workstation - video editing, music editing, web design, 3d graphics, windows

    go spec! thanks
     
  23. gabicava83 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    #23
    I give up :)

    Someone else continue please ;)



     
  24. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #24
    Here's a much better suggestion: Instead of asking us all to spec something without giving us any form of detailed information. Go and either PAY a consultancy, or at least GIVE us enough information to understand why on earth you even want a Mac Pro server. You seem to be incredibly over your head here, and really need to learn all about servers, networking and how to configure them before you go and spec your own server.

    In all honesty, I think you need a consultant, not a Server. In fact everything you do would be better served by being online anyway. You definitely don't want to attempt to run exchange for just 20 users. Its is unequivocally not worth the hassle. Also Google et al have much better backup systems than you'll have. In fact I think the only possible reason you have for wanting a Mac Pro is either bragging rights or ignorance, or both. Because no sane well-informed person would want the hassle of Mac Pro servers if doing it online with minimal support was an option.
     
  25. jgbr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #25
    Sorry if i was not being clear.

    I have been using OSX since 1997 and quite competent in it.

    I was generally looking for advice on hardware specs.

    On the whole

    One of the mac pro servers will deal with the daily running of a very intensive, media and web oriented user osx user enviroment

    the secondar server will be used as a big backup "data centre" which will be heavily encrypted

    The third mac pro will not be server but i was looking for suggestions on spec. (It will be doing everything from video editing, to website design/virtualisation)
     

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