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

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' 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. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    Keep in mind that an XServe comes with an unlimited client copy of Leopard Server, so it may be cheaper than a Mac Pro when you take that into account. But yes, all the Windows machines would be able to access it fine.
  3. /dev/toaster macrumors 68020


    Feb 23, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    Well, unless you have a rack in the back office then the Mac Pro will do you just fine for a server.

    I am not sure what kind of load you are putting on the server. So, the Mac Pro could be really overboard, but hey nothing wrong with that. 8 cores will hold you for quite a long time.

    You would really need to look at the features of Leopard server to determine if you really need it or not. What are you looking to get out of the server, what services are you going to be running ?

    Parallels should work fine, UNLESS the application requires Direct X ... then, despite what they advertise ... is piss poor at best. Most applications just flat out won't work. What types of applications are you worried about ?

    Worse comes to absolute worse, you could just run Windows on any of them :D
  4. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Right now each of the computers has a copy of their Softdent practice management software installed. All of the information is saved on the server and the computers just act as workstations to input data, etc.

    To put it simply, the a Mac Pro is likely overboard but my main concern was that the computers would play nice with it. From the sounds of things it seems as if we can bring in the new Mac Pro, transfer the information over via the LAN and have it take the place of the old server?

    Is it really that simple? Currently the computers need to have a Mapped Network Drive through windows to access the practice software database. Is that possible as well with Leopard Server?
  5. michaelsviews macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2007
    New England
    Couple of thought's

    So who is going to do the install of the hardware and software?

    Your currently running an application based on the windows OS, and switching to another Dental application that is Mac Based ?

    Are you planning on running both at the same time ? By that I mean the old with the new?

    As far as running windows on the Macs VMware mite be better, just an opinion, but with running windows on the Mac OS through VMware or parallels I would think you would need multiple license's for all the desktops.

    Server wise and this being a business that needs to be up all the time although not crucial, do you have a local Apple store that can repair on site or an authorized Apple service agent that is going to come on site in case of the worse case scenario of a "CRASH"

    If you have a local Apple store you mite want to contact there Business Agents ( I think that's there title ) and see what they suggest both hardware and software side.

    Base on the requirements seems like a pretty straight forward system.

    Do you have a plan to bring all the data from the old into the new? And has anyone tried this ?

    Regarding servers, you mite want to shop around for a mac pro with quad core and also keep an eye on Apples refurbished listing.

    Hope this helps you
  6. keantan macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2008
    Penang, Malaysia
    The Mac Pro would make a good server. You COULD get away with an imac or even a mac mini running an external if you really wanted to but I question using an external hard disk with network tasks; may get bogged down.

    I don't know about costing issues but my old man has a mac pro in his office running pretty much everything (DNS server, file server, email, etc) and that does great.

    A word of advice though, either use RAID to make backups of your drives so that you don't have data loss or use time capsule :)

    good luck with your switch
  7. pwn247 macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2008
    West Virginia, USA
    A Mac Pro would serve you fine.

    And, correct me if I'm wrong, I think the XServe software can run on the MP? (Just a wild punch in the dark here).

    The dentist office I go to is also a no-paper facility, so everything is tablet/server-based. Unfortunately, they're a PC community, and each little booth has a small Dell desktop computer. So when I was there for my twice-a-yearly checkup, the dentist left the office to take care of something. So I looked over at the monitor (Windows XP), and there's that Automatic Updates window with the 5-minute timer until it automatically restarts (LOL). So I thought it would be considerate to click "Restart Later", but nah. So the computer went into the restart sequence right as the dentist came back in. She freaked out and lost all the stuff they saved about my teeth on the software. Idiots.

    Just another reason to use OS X, I suppose. :D
  8. rylin macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2006
    Never, ever, EVER use RAID instead of backup.

    RAID is for fault tolerance and performance, and has *NOTHING* to do with backup or disaster recovery.
    I can't stress that enough.
  9. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    With a Raid controller do you need to have 2 hard drives for it to do anything?
  10. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    Yes. OS X and OS X Server have been able to serve Windows shares since the beginning of time. You can map it to a drive letter just like if it was a Windows server.
  11. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Great! That was actually something I was very unsure of til you just responded. It seems as if we may have bought a few months with a quick fix for the current server but it has started the wheels-a-turning on switching the entire office to Mac platform.

    10 new Mac Minis are only $6,400! Not too shabby at all!
  12. FF_productions macrumors 68030


    Apr 16, 2005
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    Do NOT buy the Mac Mini until it is updated, for gods sake.
  13. DCstewieG macrumors member


    Jun 30, 2008
    Funny story, but you're still an ass :p
  14. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Yeah I have no intentions of instructing them to do so until they get an update. Unless it never comes and Apple just drops the line instead which I am hoping is def. not the case since it appears its not.

    Yeah that story was pretty funny too.
  15. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008

    One last question. If you were buying a Mac Pro as your server, how would you have it configured? Budget under $10k
  16. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Single quad core, 4GB of memory and whatever storage needs you have, I would use software RAID. Memory and hardrives sourced 3rd party.
  17. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Is everyone telling me that buying a new 8-core has no merit?
  18. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    You shouldn't need 8 cores to run a dental office, four is likely overkill.4. Honestly I'd just get the base Xserve with two additional 80GB drives and run two in RAID 1 with the third as a spare. Seems like that would meet your needs. A Mac Pro offers you more expandability, but doesn't seem needed.
  19. OttawaGuy macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2006

  20. Mactagonist macrumors 65816

    Feb 5, 2008
    NYC - Manhattan
    I think a MP or XServe would huge over kill. Look at the server requirements, up to 25 clients will run on a G4 867!

    You dont need to wait for the newest Mac minis to run the office, even the 1st gen Intel Minis are overkill for a client.

    Use something like this:

    Server: Highend Mini with maxed out Ram and a couple Big FW discs in RAID for redundancy.

    The cheapest, oldest Minis you can buy with a warranty as clients.

    Spend some money on getting a good offsite backup system, wired network and UPSs setup.

    Buying for the future is nice, but even the cheapest current machines are so far above what you need that you will get years and years of use out of them.
  21. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    I would only do this if your on a tight budget as you probably won't be happy with it in a couple years. Besides it means you have to spend $1000 for OS X server....

    I would buy a refurb xserve for 2,499.00 that includes OS X server, with unlimited clients. :eek:

    Now you would want to buy more ram and hard drives. And buy one of these:

    As who wants to sit without a power supply in case of failure.

    Get two 250gb drives mirrored. Or even 500 GB drives. Then get an external hard drive for backups and you will be set.
  22. frimple macrumors 6502

    Nov 18, 2008
    Denver, CO
    I'm afraid that what's been glossed over in this thread is probably the most important part. The Software.

    Everyone seems to be hot to discuss needs of the hardware however all that's fine and well but you're not just talking about a hardware upgrade. You're considering moving from Windows to Mac in a business environment.

    You said that they've had the old server for 9 years, well that's 9 years worth of growth/un-documented changes/installs to the environment to get it to where it's at today. The FIRST thing that you need to do is figure out what you have on the server. Is there a database? Is there a share? How is authentication handled? Is it a Domain Controller? What about a print server, does it handle the spooling of the printers?

    Sorry, I'm an IT consultant for a living and I just always see clients jumping ahead of the questions that need to be answered first to get to the sexy stuff (like what new equipment will we get! :) )
  23. pkoury thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2008
    You bring up a great point. They will be having the MacPractice team coming in to do the switchover of patient information and all related files into the new software.

    The server does control all of the printers which are all HP's. I didn't really think printers would be something to think about. What's to consider?

    I like the XServe idea. I did not think about that. If the Mac Pro is a sure overkill then maybe an XServe is a better idea. $2400 with software included is a big advantage. But adding ram, drives, and raid and hot-swap power plugs starts to add up as well so they each have their own separate money pits.

    I will talk to them about this idea though.
  24. Chaos123x macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
    Try putting your old computer in the autoclave.
  25. frimple macrumors 6502

    Nov 18, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Print sharing is what you should be concerned with. You'll most likely need to remap all the computers in the office to use the new server as the print server. However, I'd also examine that authentication method as well as the Active Directory problem (domain controller). What OS is running on the current server? ~2000 everyone went domain happy when server 2000 came out... sound suspiciously like your environment is a domain environment.

    I would avoid thinking about the hardware before you get the rest of it settled. The hardware will be the least of your headaches. If you want to go with either the Mac Pro or XServe (both will suite your needs) you'll encounter the same migration problems. The meat of this project is the software migration.

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