Time to upgrade server in the dental office! Advice anyone?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by pkoury, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. pkoury macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    The short:
    1. Family owns a dental office
    2. Currently running Softdent as dental practice management (windows software, plans to update eventually to MacPractice)
    3. 9 year old server is taking a crap
    4. Time to start the process of switching the office over to Macs (without breaking the bank all at one time)
    5. Need some advice / a few questions answered.

    The long:
    Computer Setup
    So my family (girlfriend's family actually but in so many words they are quickly becoming my family) owns a dental office. The practice has about 12 computers all but 2 are Windows based, and for the other 2 the first is a MacBook Pro (previous to Late 2008 Generation) and the second is a 2.6ishGHZ 24" iMac, both currently running parallels.

    All of the computers access information on the server but I do not think there are any programs that need to really technically be installed on it. The software they use is called Softdent and is owned by Kodak who is no longer updating the software. The plan is to eventually move to the MacPractice DDS software when the new charting features are done in it and the computers have all been switched over to Mac Mini's etc.

    The information currently on the server needs to be moved onto a new server, however I am not sure if it needs to be installed into the server or if the folders can just be moved over. Any idea on how to figure this stuff out (ie. if there are registry entries or anything like that on the current server that are necessary to use a particular software database) or am I better off calling Softdent to figure that out?

    Server Issues
    The server is old enough to the point where its amazing 30gb raid capacity is nearing full, and in need of replacement. Its time to upgrade and there are a few questions plaguing the minds of the parents.

    1. Is an XServe Necessary or can we get away with a Mac Pro?
    2. I assume we will need an unlimited copy of Leopard Server?
    3. Will all of the other Windows based computers be able to access the Mac Pro / XServe as they normally would the Windows based server?
    4. If we needed to could we run Parallels to "make things work" so to speak?

    Keep in mind we will need to be able to keep as much as possible Windows compatible until we can switch over all of the computers in the office.

    I am sure there will be more questions as these get answered, if you need more information to help answer these questions just ask.
  2. Zjef macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2008
    To be very short all your question can be answered with a simple "yes".

    Based on your questionnaire I assume that you've been studying the information you could get a grip on? I also have got the impression that you have some "cold feed" to just move ahead?

    Assuming you want to do the exercise yourself, why not building a study case? Meaning:
    - follow a course like on Lynda.com or others
    - buy a cheap 2nd hand Mac (G4 will do);
    - buy a very cheap router, just to build a experimental network
    - try to setup a server suitable to explore all needs you might have

    This prototyping approach will become benefitial if you take the knowledge you gain and the costs you avoid (by having better requirements defenitions) into account. Even when you might decide that additional help of an expert is required.

    PS I took the same approach in a similar situation ;-)

    PS the second hand Mac should be a waste either. It can be used later to increase redundance, or to run less used services, ...
  3. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Extremely cold feet. You think I can just use any Mac we have laying around here and try to test out my ideas? Apple is sending me a trial of Leopard Server. Can I install that on something as simple as a BlackBook to get an idea for what needs to be done on the larger scale?

    Could you explain the thought behind using the cheap mac to increase redundance? What is meant by that? Can you split up the services on OS X server to run from different locations?
  4. quasinormal macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2007
    Sydney, Australia.
    Pardon me if this is an ignorant question, but wouldn't a Mac Mini running plain old OSX do the job if only file sharing is expected of it.
  5. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Does anyone else think that a Mac Mini is worth it? They are looking for expandability down the road so that is why I thought it would be best to go XServe or Mac Pro.
  6. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    A mac mini is faster than that 9 year old server. (Actually the iPod touch probably has more power than that old thing).

    No need for xserve. However if it's in the budget, perhaps a Mac Pro would ensure zero latency.
  7. viggen9 macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2004
    For you server, go with the Mac Pro. With this you can opt to either run software RAID mirror, or add on the pricey hardware RAID card to get a RAID mirror that way. You can also have an installed spare if needed for additional redundancy. And you could use an additional internal hard drive bay for your backup solution.

    For your clients, I would suggest going with iMacs instead of minis. The iMacs already come with keyboard, mouse and display, and have higher-end internal components as well.
  8. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    We've been able to extend the life of the server for about another 6 months at this point.

    So our gears are shifting to a full switchover of everything at 1 time, at the current moment.

    $6,400 for 10 Mini's is a decent price. We really won't need new screens / keyboards / mice, since all of this equipment is currently in place and there is room to keep it all (not to mention the screens are pretty nice to begin with).

    I guess the thought now is will the Mini's get the long awaited update in the coming 6 months so we have fresh new equipment instead of what is currently offered.

    Thanks for the help everyone!
  9. justinm macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    Orlando FL
    I have a Mac mini running OS X server with no problems. You should be fine with the Mac mini's specs. Just attach a big external hard drive (1TB) if needed.
  10. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    How many computers are you serving with the Mini?
  11. AdamN macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2009

    First off, are you definitely using MacPractice? I have no idea which is better - just wondering. Anyway, make sure you know which software you will be using (evaluate, etc...) first.

    Then, email the software vendor for tips - and possibly a professional install (if you can afford it). These all seem like small shops so it might not be much at all and it's not a bad idea to have somebody else for your in-laws to complain to.


    Those are requirements for that software but I presume it's all similar.

    Finally, I would go for the better mac mini if you go that route. You really need 2GB of RAM but nothing else matters really.

    As for the server, I think iMac, Power Mac, XServe are all fine options. The bigger issues at that point to think about are how you want to backup and what your network infrastructure looks like.

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