New Business Server, RAID Opinions?

F1ydave

Member
Mar 9, 2014
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First of all I want to say, this site is amazing. I have been a long time reader and fan of the site.

I was hoping for any assistance, ideas or recommendations from everyone. I am in the market to build a new office server.

HISTORY:
About the current(old) server, HP ML350g4p, circa 2005. 2 - 3.2 xeon single processors, 4 gigs of ram (MAXed out) and 5 - 74gb 15K ultra320 harddrives, 1 - Raid 5 array with 2 partitions, Boot and Data. Was an exchange server too until 2012 when it maxed out drive space and was offloaded to office365.

It is now operating at 33% free space for boot and 7% for data on the harddrives. I ordered and hotswapped 146gb 15k ultra320 into server to extend the array (this was to be a band-aid solution to get us through the busy season (TAX SEASON!)). Should be simple enough right? Unfortunately this server has never had a single update (by design) since it was setup by the original tech company, they hate updates. And I can not get HP's "System Management Homepage" to even load on localhost or remotely thought iLO. The "array utility" doesn't load. I went to the extent of updating using HP's updating program and still have had no luck with all updated drivers, firmwares and management programs. I've attempted to google a solution with no luck, just hundreds+ of others with the same problem, but most of them are in rack rooms and have master certifications with HP...tech company could not figure it out either. They referred me to someone I have yet to call tomorrow.

Our file cabinet program allows us to digitally store files replacing the need for paper copies in actual file cabinets. This being our busy season, this is what consumes our drive space for 11,000 clients.

Server runs a software by Thomson Reuters - CS Professional Suite, among a few others. UltraTax and Filecabinet being the 2 main programs. I did not set up this server, but as far as I can tell it is a file server for 3rd party software that uses SQL. The way it is currently managed, the programs are installed on server first and then on the other pc's using a "desktop" folder that the program installs on the server.

We built out a new office last summer so upgrading to a new server was out of the question last year, I wanted to virtualize with passthrough. Instead, I updated all the pc's from Pentium 4's running XP to i5's with windows 7 pro. Cost was $600 each, got to love ITX. We are now in a position to replace it the server. We were forced to do this because of office 365 with outlook...


Esxi Host:
VM 1: Since we have new computers we don't have a need to virtualize with passthrough at this time (I will do that next time). My plan was to build a ESXI platform and virtualize Windows Server 2003 and migrate the current sever to RAID 10 with 4 - 1TB drives SAS 7200rpm drives with SED. Until, I used the site calculator that recommends RAID 6, seems like a no brainer for array security. Thoughts on this? I am thinking the read speed on 7200rpm should still be higher performance than the old Ultra320. I think 320mb/s was its cap.

VM 2: After Server migration is up and running, I was going to virtualize another 2003 and attempt to actually install all updates and setup a fresh install of all programs nice and neat, backup and restore the client files into the new build. The software has this built-in. Go live for the office after it was completed to test stability and to become the new office file server.

VM 3: Oracle PBX Server...I want to try one of these out. If I can bring it in house we could PBX/Truck for $24.95 with our current VoIP provider, instead of 24.95 per line. I get the feeling this will be a fun setup!

VM 4: And finally, a 4th virtual to host my unraid server, which will have its own separate SATA drives. Should I buy a separate Raid card for my unraid to run SATA?

VM 5: Test Lab for Live Server for updates.

VM 6: I may try a 3rd virtual with ZFS file system with filesharing. I am not entirely sure this software can run without a windows install. I like the idea of parity checks and the other advantages that zfs has to offer. This would be in lieu of updating to Window Server 2008 or 2012.


In the end I should have 3 virtuals that will run at all times, and a 4th that would be a lab to test new windows updates for the main file server. I may run a virtual to test Server 2008 or 2012, but its not a priority atm.


Server:
Esxi 5.5
Intel E3-1245v3
Supermicro X10SLH-F-0
32 Gigs RAM Kingston ECC unbuffered
Raid Card(s) (TBD, so many choices!) Needs to support Encrypted Drives, I've been watching ebay for cheap LSI. Any advice on models would be greatly appreciated.
2 - SSD 128GB, mirror, Boot drive (PNY's)
4 - 1TB SAS SED 7200rpm Harddrives
1 - 4TB SATA 7200rpm - backup images for onsite and offsite file replication.

Case: Haven't decided, but thinking something that could host passthrough cards next time around. I am leaning towards NORCO 4220 - 6gb/s backplanes.

Eventually - Synology Onsite Backup to replace the TeraStation (Takes 6.5 hours to copy 124gig backup file)
Lenovo T140 i3, 8gb ram, 4 x 4tb SATA Offsite Server (Already up at my home)

Should I be ok with 3gb/s raid/backplanes? Or should I aim for 6gb/s (where I am at currently)? There is a Supermicro 24 hotswap case on ebay for $500 shipped currently but its backplanes are 3gb/s. Server 2003 does NOT support trim, should I be worried with SSD boot drives? My plan was to leave 20% unpartitioned.


I am curious as to what you guys think. What everyone prefers for backup software, onsite, etc?
 
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PigLover

Moderator
Jan 26, 2011
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That's a great deal for that chassis. You can probably get at least $30-50 of it back selling off the old Motherboard/CPU/Memory and other useless parts. Heck - you'll probably do better than that - those 3x SAT2-MV8 cards sell well and recents have been between $13-35/each on ebay. Well done.

You'll love the chassis once you get it cleaned up.

You'll probably also want to swap out the fans for 4-pin PWM models. Use the money from selling the spare parts to fund them (probably $15-25/each). Finding the right replacement fans is easy. You can find the 4-pin hot-swap cables to fit the fan carriers here: Best Seller Supermicro CBL 0088L 4 Pin 27cm Power Cable Bulk | eBay

That chassis comes in four different backplane versions: TQ has individual SATA connectors and is most likely given the 3x SAT2-MV8 boards in the listing, but there are also two different expander versions (E1 and E2) as well as a 6x8087 version. The listing is not clear. If you get it and its something other than the TQ you might want to post the info.

Also - do you have a source for the PWS-920-SQ at a decent price? I can never seem to find that model used and new ones run from $170-220 each. If you have a source and are willing to disclose it there are probably a few people here who would like to know.
 
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PigLover

Moderator
Jan 26, 2011
2,988
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One more thing when working with older-model Sumermicro Chassis but fitting newer-model ATX/E-ATX motherboards: the mounting holes wont all be in the right place. SM uses moveable stand-offs in their chassis but their older chassis designs didn't really comply with all of the specs for hole placement. They've fixed it in more recent designs, but you'll probably get one of the older ones.

Its not too much of a worry as you can live with one or two mounting holes unused. Do be careful to look for mounting points that might accidentally touch the bottom of your MB. Take care to cover them with vinyl tape and you'll be all good.
 

F1ydave

Member
Mar 9, 2014
133
21
18
That's a great deal for that chassis. You can probably get at least $30-50 of it back selling off the old Motherboard/CPU/Memory and other useless parts. Heck - you'll probably do better than that - those 3x SAT2-MV8 cards sell well and recents have been between $13-35/each on ebay. Well done.

You'll love the chassis once you get it cleaned up.

You'll probably also want to swap out the fans for 4-pin PWM models. Use the money from selling the spare parts to fund them (probably $15-25/each). Finding the right replacement fans is easy. You can find the 4-pin hot-swap cables to fit the fan carriers here: Best Seller Supermicro CBL 0088L 4 Pin 27cm Power Cable Bulk | eBay

That chassis comes in four different backplane versions: TQ has individual SATA connectors and is most likely given the 3x SAT2-MV8 boards in the listing, but there are also two different expander versions (E1 and E2) as well as a 6x8087 version. The listing is not clear. If you get it and its something other than the TQ you might want to post the info.

Also - do you have a source for the PWS-920-SQ at a decent price? I can never seem to find that model used and new ones run from $170-220 each. If you have a source and are willing to disclose it there are probably a few people here who would like to know.
Thank you for the reply! I'm a big fan of your work.

I was planning on selling off the parts or seeing if I could fit them in a HP Proliant DL380 G5 I have sitting around, its CPU doesn't support Vt-d so I don't know what to do with it. I got it on ebay for $32 shipped, LOL. I don't know how he shipped that without taking a loss. Its only missing power supply's and drive bays.

I will look into those 4 pin fans...supermicro has a 5 pin correct? I was debating on the unit, between norco's but I figured at the end of the day, why get a knock off when I can get the real deal.

I told them last week they listed the motherboard as the model...they still didn't fix it. They even linked me to a completely difference chassis after I told them it was wrong. Anyway, I dug it up on supermicro.com and found the chassis.

SuperChassis 846TQ-R900B with SAS-846-TQ backplane (confirmed by ebay seller).

The older models on the site say they are 3gb/s backplanes but the newer models (1200w version) states 3gb/s and 6gb/s with the same model...maybe there was a revision or its SAS only at 6gb/s?

The PWS-920P-SQ was at $117 shipped couple weeks ago, but I cant remember for who, I went as far as sourcing a PDU on ebay because I couldn't believe how cheap I could build a 920w redundant. I didn't want to pull the trigger till I knew for sure I was going to get it. I didn't realize they were such a hot commodity, I hsould have known better. Even at $180-200 I think I could get behind it. It will be the last thing I worry about. This thing most likely wont even fit in my server closet anyway, technically a coat closet. I will have to install it in the utility room and drop some cables over the wall to my switches.
 

F1ydave

Member
Mar 9, 2014
133
21
18
One more thing when working with older-model Sumermicro Chassis but fitting newer-model ATX/E-ATX motherboards: the mounting holes wont all be in the right place. SM uses moveable stand-offs in their chassis but their older chassis designs didn't really comply with all of the specs for hole placement. They've fixed it in more recent designs, but you'll probably get one of the older ones.

Its not too much of a worry as you can live with one or two mounting holes unused. Do be careful to look for mounting points that might accidentally touch the bottom of your MB. Take care to cover them with vinyl tape and you'll be all good.
Well I remember when computer cases were always missing 1 mounting hole back in the 90's, lol. I am not to worried about that. If I needed too I could always drill out a hole too, but I probably wont care.

I am leaning towards the 2208 or 2308 based raid card, but I am waiting to see what the backplane is in the case. I don't want to waste the money on a $400 card when they can only handle 1 or 2 $100 controller(s). Raid 6 probably isn't even worth it. Raid 10 should be fine, but I like the idea of doing a 128gb cache SSD. We currently have only 125 gigs of data and 30 gigs of OS. If we weren't using Server 2003, I would be going 4 PNY 256gb SSD. I just dont have any experience provisioning to gamble away 4 SSD's with no trim support.

I am thinking Hitachi harddrives too after that backblaze post. Ive always been a fan of seagate...they send me 3.5%-4% dividends like clockwork and I've never had all the problems I always get from WD. I still have stacks of 40gb and 120gb consumer IDE seagates in storage that still work, lol.
 

bookemdano

New Member
Jun 29, 2011
15
0
1
Huh... is the PWS-920-SQ different than the PWS-920P-1R? When I look at the test report for both models on SM's web site the pdf is identical (both show PWS-920P-SQ as the model number though):

http://www.supermicro.com/products/powersupply/80PLUS/80PLUS_PWS-920P-1R.pdf
http://www.supermicro.com/products/powersupply/80PLUS/80PLUS_PWS-920P-SQ.pdf

And this post indicates that the PWS-920P-1R is near silent. Just curious if anyone knows anything definitive.

The PWS-920P-1R seems to be available occasionally on ebay for $70-80--not bad for quiet and platinum certified!

Edit: F1ydave As far as I know the fans in the newer SM chassis are 4-pin. I have an older SC745 revision that came with all 3-pin fans so I had to replace them as well as the harnesses (took the opportunity to replace with the SQ equivalents to cut down on noise).
 
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F1ydave

Member
Mar 9, 2014
133
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The PWS-920P-1R seems to be available occasionally on ebay for $70-80--not bad for quiet and platinum certified!
The SQ is (super quiet) and my understanding is that it makes less noise than the case fans. That is a good post, thank you for sharing. I was going off a review in NEWEGG.

Edit: F1ydave As far as I know the fans in the newer SM chassis are 4-pin. I have an older SC745 revision that came with all 3-pin fans so I had to replace them as well as the harnesses (took the opportunity to replace with the SQ equivalents to cut down on noise).
Actually you are probably right, I may have been thinking of the Dell C6100 everyone is buying...I was re-reading that post the other day. I probably just got them confused. It doesn't really matter since my motherboard is already here and it has 5 - 4 pins, lol.
 
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britinpdx

Active Member
Feb 8, 2013
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Portland OR
And this post indicates that the PWS-920P-1R is near silent. Just curious if anyone knows anything definitive.
It was the basis of that post that I purchased a pair of PWS-920P-1R's for my SC846. They are significantly lower noise than the "jet engine" PWS 902-1R's that my chassis arrived with, but they are by no means "near silent".

I'm one of those people who wants to make my computational equipment as quiet and efficient as possible. With the 2U and 4U chassis I've typically swapped out case fans to be optimum for my specific configuration and expected heat load. I'm never going to get close to the worse case load that these chassis are designed to provide.

I've currently got a range of Supermicro 1U, 2U and 4U chassis, and from a noise standpoint the PWS-653-2H in the 823TQ-653LPB chassis is a winnner. The PWS-653-2H is a 2U power supply with a large fan. Way less fan noise with the PWS-653-2H than PWS-920P-1R, but different intended application.

My next vote for "acceptably quiet" would go to the PWS-563-1H power supply in the 825TQ-563TQ chassis.

I've got a old Radio Shack Sound Level Meter around somewhere ... if I can find it maybe I'll try and get some actual data rather than speculate.
 

F1ydave

Member
Mar 9, 2014
133
21
18
It was the basis of that post that I purchased a pair of PWS-920P-1R's for my SC846. They are significantly lower noise than the "jet engine" PWS 902-1R's that my chassis arrived with, but they are by no means "near silent".

I'm one of those people who wants to make my computational equipment as quiet and efficient as possible. With the 2U and 4U chassis I've typically swapped out case fans to be optimum for my specific configuration and expected heat load. I'm never going to get close to the worse case load that these chassis are designed to provide.

I've currently got a range of Supermicro 1U, 2U and 4U chassis, and from a noise standpoint the PWS-653-2H in the 823TQ-653LPB chassis is a winnner. The PWS-653-2H is a 2U power supply with a large fan. Way less fan noise with the PWS-653-2H than PWS-920P-1R, but different intended application.

My next vote for "acceptably quiet" would go to the PWS-563-1H power supply in the 825TQ-563TQ chassis.

I've got a old Radio Shack Sound Level Meter around somewhere ... if I can find it maybe I'll try and get some actual data rather than speculate.
That is interesting since the P series is $165 shipped at newegg. I wonder how much of a difference the SQ is compared to yours.