Xserve advice?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Demon Hunter, May 11, 2006.

  1. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    I'm building a new server for my dad's company. But I know very little about Xserves.

    They're migrating from a personal webserver with 64MB of RAM. Needless to say, it crashed and burned, and here I am cleaning up the mess.

    They stream and store a large amount of video. I thought the Xserve could serve as: the office server (1), backup drives (2), and webserver (3). This also needs to last a long, long time. They wait until the last minute to upgrade anything. Frankly I'm tired of their ****, and they need an Xserve that will whoop ass.

    Here is what I have lined up:

    Xserve G5 Dual 2.3GHz
    Part Number: Z0BH
    Fibre Channel PCI-X card - (lower slot)
    2GB DDR400 ECC SDRAM - 2x1GB
    Mac OS X Server, Unlimited License
    1500GB ADM (3x500GB 7,200rpm ADM)
    Dual 2.3GHz PowerPC G5
    Accessory kit
    SuperDrive (CD-RW/DVD-R)
    Estimated Ship: 1-3 business days

    AppleCare Premium Service and Support for Xserve
    Part Number: M8830LL/C
    Estimated Ship: Within 24 hours

    Cart Subtotal: $7,599.00

    This leaves room for cluster nodes or Xserve RAID... and RAID 5, yes? I thought SuperDrive would be useful if bad things happen... again.

    Also: does it need a monitor (and VGA card)?

    Please reply this time. :)
  2. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Apr 2, 2006
    I don't know all that much about servers, but have you considered waiting until, Xserves come out with intel processors?
  3. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Sure would be nice... but those will come with the PowerMacs, right? That's quite a ways off. Are the current Xserves that old? Steve said all the Macs would be Intel, but did he mean Xserve too? Hmm.
  4. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    That may still be some time, and with servers, stability is the key, and the G5 server that's been around for ages shouldn't cause any surprises.

    You don't need a VGA card and a monitor. You should be able to administer the server remotely whether through VNC / Remote Desktop, a server administration client program or through the terminal. Still, troubleshooting may prove to be less of an hassle if it has a VGA card.

    The Mac OS X Server administration guides should be able to tell you more about your options.
  5. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    I think in your case, getting a new server is MISSION CRITICAL, so don't wait around for an upgrade.

    My only concern is does your client feel comfortable having a OS X server, I know some busniesses like my Father's absolutely require Windows because they A) Don't know crap and B) Don't want to deal with it.
  6. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Apr 2, 2006
    Yes, apparently they are brilliant servers, but they are starting to age a little. Although if I ran a business, I would'nt go for anything else. They are probably the best you can get in terms of quality, reliability and with OSX server and the high level of security. ;)
  7. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    I think for the most part, reliability and the fact that it works is more important than being up to date.

    For example: My roomate's work finally just upgraded to Win XP professional, after using Windows NT 2000. Most of the time busniesses just want computers that work, not the newest doo-dad.
  8. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Thanks for the advice guys!

    Yes that's very true. They already use a Mac for Final Cut Pro and Photoshop (thank God). They're sold on Macs, except they're stubborn and screwed up their last "upgrade cycle" by getting a deal on a bunch of Pentium IVs. They even got a personalized quote from the Apple Store. Sigh, that was a sad day, indeed.
  9. AlmostThere macrumors 6502a

    With so little information to go on, I would say that is massive overkill, especially if they can manage on PWS :eek: with 64Mb RAM (albeit dying).

    In terms of storage, you haven't given any figures.
    What sort of load is the server under?
    Are the files made available over the internet multiple user or just large files? Is it dynamic or static content? What demands do local users make? 12 office users are going to have to be doing some pretty hefty lifting to stress the XServe mentioned. What role is the server playing as an office server? File server only? Database server?

    You will really need to supply as much information as possible but my first impression is that anyone looking to spend more than £1000 / $1500 on a server should be acutely aware of all the options, in particular as it is very easy to scale many servers nowadays.
  10. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Sorry, I had some more details in the other thread. I should say, the 64MB PWS was their backup, and overloaded when they tried to restore. For a server they were using a RAID 0 stripe, Pentium IV 3.06 GHz with 512MB, and even before it crashed it was very slow for the employees. The HDDs were about 100GB each, in addition to the two 250GB personal servers.

    They have about 500GB of data right now, with an average of maybe 15GB a month. The server load is 12 users and half a dozen printers. The local users are saving and opening brochures, JPEGs, Word documents, etc. The company is a PR firm. It's used as a file server almost entirely. The Mac is doing a lot of the "lifting" (largest files). Keep in mind, I'm trying to replace the server and their backup hardware.

    The web content is static, and receives maybe 1000 hits per month. No local hits, it's just a corporate site. Internet access is important, as is speed, for transferring the large video files on a whim by 1 user.

    More details, let me know... thanks!
  11. asencif macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2005

    I have setup Xserve/Xraid solutions for my clients and just love the stability. That one Final Cut Preditor I imagine uses up most of the storage and bandwith. I would probably suggest for him to have his own dedicated share and have him connected through Fibre Channel or Gigabit Ethernet. I don't think you added a Fibre Channel card to your Xserve, but for video it's a must nowadays and your Final Cut guy will love you...lol Anyway, make sure your get a good backup program like Retrospect or Bru to backup.
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If this web server will be serving content to the Internet this plan is a VERY bad idea. Not many people would recommend keeping your bussines files on a machine that is connected to the Internet. Any computer that serves content to the public Internet should be connected only to a DMZ LAN segment and should absolutly hold no more data than it needs to do it's Internet server job. If you need to serve web pages to the publen and files to office users get two computers and a firewall that supports multiple interfaces.

    As for price: If you like the Xserve than you pay Apple's asking price. If price is an issue then you could buy several high-end PC baed servers and install Linux or BSD and still have some money left over.

    Wnatever you buy it should have some redundancy built-in. RAID drives (with on-line spares) and multiple power supplies in each box. (and don't plug both power supplies into the same UPS.)
  13. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Thanks, good call. The website idea was an afterthought... like maybe they could save, instead of using their host. Bad idea. :) I'm pretty set on the Xserve, if only because it's a hell of a lot easier than Linux or BSD, which I know squat about.

    EDIT: Do they only need one Fibre Channel card, for the Final Cut guy/possible Xserve RAID? Also, where to put it? They have what looks like a 9U (?) rack in their office, but it's full of DSL switches, phone lines, etc.
  14. AlmostThere macrumors 6502a

    Web server is almost negligible, our XServes are rarely stressed at 1000's hits per day, and I would second the earlier post: you very likely have one guy / gal hogging all the resources (probably bandwidth if you are on 100K network) there.

    Check the CPU load on the P4 - file serving is not particularly CPU or RAM intensive and you could easily turn the Dual G5 and 2Gb into single a G5 and more storage, of which is sounds like you need plenty - obviously being MR you want to stick with Apple :)
  15. asencif macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2005
    Well the XServe needs one Card which has two slots that connects to an XRaid if you decide to buy one. If not then you can connect the PMG5 do the Xserve directly, but those cables are costly especially if you need a very long one. Most people get an Xserve and XRaid then use Gigabit Ethernet for the connection of the clients to save money or they just can't afford a Fibre Channel network. Since you only have one system that needs it than it won't be costly.

    Also, if you plan to add more clients or an Xserve Raid through Fibre Channel than you will need a Fibre Channel switch.

    Make sure you set the backup correctly as it is extremely crucial and use 3rd Party software which is easier and works better. Backup the server and the data drives seperately.
  16. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Thanks again guys. I'm having a hell of a time getting their data back. I think I've finally done it, 6 hours later. I'd post about the ordeal, but getting data back with Windows? Yeah, exactly. :)

    You wouldn't believe the **** that I've gone through for this data. I just hooked up the slave drive with a HDD carriage from another machine and some rubber bands.
  17. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    One more question for any server experts:

    What benefits would a 74GB 10k drive add to the mix, besides the obvious storage? Is it good to have a speedy server module with the big guys? So that would be this setup:

    1074GB ADM (1x74GB 10,000rpm & 2x500GB 7,200rpm ADM)

    And the previous setup:

    1500GB ADM (3x500GB 7,200rpm ADM)1500GB ADM (3x500GB 7,200rpm ADM)
  18. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    [Speculation] That 10K RPM drive would work well if you could somehow use it to Cache all the data that is being accessed. My only concern would be the fact that it's such a small drive, compared to the other ones you have.

    I haven't read over the whitepapers for XSan. Theoretically it combines all volumes into a single network volume, but the thing that I wonder about is the performance, if you have one fast drive and two slower drives if the software has to operate at the slowest bottleneck.[/speculation]
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    For best performance you want as many __identical__ drives as you can afford. It is much better to have 8 250GB drives then 4 500GB drives. The only reason not to go with more drives is the cost of the box. Boxes with 16 or 64 drives bays cost big bucks. There are two reasons why this is true

    (1) bandwidth. Th computer will read from the drives in parallel. Reading from two drives at once is twice as fast as reading the same data off only one drive. By simalar logic you can read at 4x or faster speeds. That is untill the bottle neckof the interface (be that fiber channel, ultra SCSI or ethernet) is filled up. Typically the disk drives phyical bit rate (the speed that bits fly under the head) is much slower than the interface So 4X is reasonable

    (2) RAIDs store redundent data such that if one drive dies data can be recoved from remaining drives. If you have only two drives you need 100% extra storage to hold the redundent information but if you have five drives you need only 20% extra.

    You get best economy and performance by consolidating to ONE big RAID array with as many spindles as you can afford. You can safely save some money by building one big file server using RAID let that one server do "everything" let it hold your FCP user's video files, let it hold the data for your web server and I would put AL of yur user's home ddirectories on the server to. that way their desktops follow them to any mac the sign login to. You web server (we hope) is not on the local office LAN so your file server needs one Ethernet interface for each LAN segmant it servers and you will configure the server NOT to route between interfaces.

    You say you don't like BSD. But _everything_ above is all done with e Open Source Darwin side of Mac OS. If you'd get a BSd system t would all work exactly the same. It's the same software
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Seem to me like an old iBook would be kind of overkill for the web server wuldn't it? You are dow in the "hits per hour" range you have to be taling about "hits per second" before Apache starts using any CPU time to serve static pages. I'm halfway srious too. Notbooks make great low-end servers because they have built-in battery backup and don't take up much space or use much power. You would keep ALL the data they server on a big file server so all it's really doing is moving data between Ethernet interfaecs. And now you see why I say "halfway serious" Web servers need two ethrnet ports sothat your file server is no on the same LAN segmet as the public Internet.

    As for storage. buy six 250GB drives and a bunch of empty drivebays. This will give you 1TB of usable stoage and one on-line hot spare drive asuming RAID5
  21. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    In terms of a RAID, one option is to go for an SATA based RAID. This will most likely come out cheaper than an XRAID.

    I'm in the middle of building up a RAID at work based on an 8-channel SATA II card, a 2U high drive enclosure for 8 drives and 8 500GB RAID optimized SATA II drives.Total cost works out to $1k for the controller card and enclosure, $4.1k for 10 drives (leaving us with 2 spare drives).

    Total ~$5k for an estimated 3.5TB of RAID 5 storage. From what I've been pricing out, this is far cheaper than traditional SCSI based RAID solutions. ...but admittedly not as pretty looking as an XRAID.
  22. iMan macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    Xserve is a good choice!

    I have set up an Xserve at our office - and have not regretted for a second. In my opinion you get excellent value for money from Apple here.

    Key factors we considered - and that are fulfilled - are stability, flexibility and easy admin.

    My 2 cents for you:

    - don't wait for the intel - current versions are more than powerful enough for your needs, and they are proven technology.
    - I don't see the need for 3x500 GB disks - note that as far as I know OS X server don't have native support to include the system disk in the mirror/raid (there are thirdparty solutions though) - so I would use one regular 80 GB disk for the system (you could make a separate image of this setup in case you need a restore), and then 2x500GB disks with a raid solution - as a start.
    - the good thing is you may add a complete xServe RAID afterwards to cater to future needs - a nice stepup which we do in our office also soon :)
    - don't use the same partition for your webserver (you could, but I don't recommend it). We set up on system disk, and the two others as a mirrored partition that is accesible on the net with VPN. The webserver we keep separate - and we will have a new partition soon for an imagebank accsessible via web.
    - I use ARD to manage the system (besides the server managment software) - so you don't actually need a separate display/keyboard for the xserve. Actually besides upgrading the disks now and then, we have no physical contact with the server - just sits there in the cabinet and works. Everything done via my workstation, and it has been running smooth for more than a year - no incidents whatsoever!

    Never thought I would be the systemadmin, since I have no special knowledge of this, but has been working without a hitch with xServe :)
    Recommend you to get a third party book on the OSX server admin though - Apples documentation sucks - as usual (in the way that it is way to technical and limited - get something that has a more practical approach to it).

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