Choosing a used web server

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Old 08-04-09, 02:14 AM
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Question Choosing a used web server

A long time ago I used to keep up with each generation or wave of new tech CPU coming out. At some point it got to be too much trouble and I gave up on it thinking, if I buy new I'll always have the fastest. Enter USED and EBAY etc... Trying to save some money to start a new web business.

I see plenty of servers for sale and I'll just focus on a couple to start off with. HP DL380 G3's or G4's and Dell PowerEdge 2650 or 2850's.

I want RAID, etc.. but my biggest question is upgrading and is it possible. Why isn't upgrade documentation included in anything these days? I mean, what can I put in those servers as far as "the fastest CPU" goes or are they not upgradeable?

Is the DL380 G3 or G4 2 generations back? 3 gens back? 4 gens back?

Same question for the 2650 or 2850's. How far back?

I have established that these servers were fairly new in 2004-2005. I'm using a 2005 HP laptop right now that suffices just fine. It used to be that when newer faster computing power came out you could really tell a difference, but now it doesn't seem that way anymore. Seems the differences in speed/performance are fairly marginal to me.

I will be running say 10 web sites with a lot of static content and slowly over a great bit of time will incorporate database driven web sites. Would any of the aforementioned servers be good enough? Too slow? Need something more up to date?

If I slap a 1000gigabit network card in there will that keep me up to speed on the networks/internet? (as opposed to a 100 gigabit network card)?

If I only would've kept up with the generational changes in CPU's I wouldn't have to ask this stuff, but I'd appreciate any and all opinions.

Here are the links to said hardware:
HP ProLiant DL380 Generation 3 - Worldwide QuickSpecs
HP ProLiant DL380 Generation 4 (G4) - Worldwide QuickSpecs

http://www.dell.com/downloads/global...2650_specs.pdf
http://www.dell.com/downloads/global...2850_specs.pdf
 
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Old 08-04-09, 08:11 AM
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As far as your network card goes, internally the higher the better, but when you are dealing with outside connections coming into your box, most of them are around 10 mbps or less. Don't forget that some have a "30 sec boost". Your connection to the internet should be high. Most ISP's have fibre connection to the phone company. After that, then how you distribute to the outside world is up to you. A lot is to do with the amount of bandwidth you are using.

When setting up a web server (as you probably know), you should have seperate boxes to handle such services like: web, mail, DNS, ftp, and file.

Technology changes all the time. My suggestion to you is to figure out exactly what you need. Write down how many boxes (servers) you need. What resources will be used for each box. How much bandwidth will be required to do what you are hoping to achieve. What type of server software you are using (Microsoft or Unix).

Once you have all this written down, that should be able to give you an idea of the requirements that you need. In other words, it should be able to answer your question on CPU usage.
 
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Old 08-05-09, 06:38 PM
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I agree with rbwest. What OS do you plan on running on the Server. What I would do is go out and buy or build the latest and greatest computer(s) you can afford and install Linux on them. There are several versions out there that you can use. The two that come to the top of my head are Fedora and Ubuntu. They are both opensource (free) and both have great support. Both have forums and people available that are willing to help you get started. Fedora Forum - FedoraForum.org. Ubuntu Forums - Ubuntu Forums. Linux will be the closest thing to Unix that you can get without paying for it. RedHat also makes an Enterprise version that you can buy. Fedora is actually a project that was created by RedHat some years ago.

Hope that helps.
 
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Old 08-08-09, 04:25 AM
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Thanks for the responses. I need you guys to approximate, estimate, guess, roundabout.... etc...

Unfortunately, I do not have time to learn Unix or Linux. My career has been Windows since it was DOS. Thats what I know, so needless to say I'll be going with IIS and using Windows 2003 Standard Server.

I'm familiar with scoping a project guys, but what I really needed is some straight common "guy talk" about how beefy those particular servers are or what "if any" older model servers would still be worth paying some time/money to on Ebay or otherwise. I have just lost my bearings on where server technology/power is and need a compass reset without researching every piece of server hardware thats come out in the past 8 years.

I realize you guys want to answer to my needs, but those will always change. All I want to make sure of is that people aren't waiting more than 20 seconds to load a web page. I know I should segment things like database, etc.. but for starters until there is enough traffic the database will run with the web server on the same box. I know that is old skool and breaks all of today's rules, but you have to start somewhere.

I have to go used. I can't buy new. $$$ isn't there.

I feel kinda goofy now... I didn't mean 1000 gigabit. lol - Definitely meant 1000mb or 1 gigabit.

Would a DL380 G4 hold up well with a slow starting computer business with 1 person adding sites as time goes on?

I'd be going with Comcast Business services for the data. I don't know how fast they are off hand, but good note on the bottleneck speed.

What ya think of the Dell models I mentioned? Too old?

In any case I'm just looking to know about server load handling and performance for those models.

How do the DL380's (or similar servers of the speed/time) hold up & is the G4 still hefty enough for 10 static sites that'll have possibly some ads on'em etc.. Steps after that will be forums, database, and a few other small ideas.

Of course eventually if I ever see CPU Utilization running consistently above 10% I'll start thinking about beefier stuff.... at which I hope about that time I'll have profit to pay for it too.
 
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Old 08-10-09, 10:15 AM
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If you give specs about the actual machines that would be helpful. Almost any model server you buy today or 10 years ago, will have the options to customize it. So depending on what was in the server at purchase has a lot to do with how good it will perform down the road. If you list the specs we can probably tell you how well it may perform.

But there are a ton of variables that determine how fast any computer will run. So if someone went cheap with this particular model it may run 4 or 5 times slower than the same exact model where the purchaser went all out.

Here are some of the components that are vital to a servers performance.

Processor count
Processor Model/Line
Processor Speed
Total Memory
Speed of the memory
Hard drive RPM Speed
SCSI configuration
Performance of the SCSI controller



So check the specs and post them

If you check the manufacturers web site and documentation on the server models there should be information pertaining to what types of processors it can handle if you want to check what you can upgrade to. Actually if you check the BIOS revisions for the server it tends to tell you what processor support has been added in each revision.
 
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Old 08-12-09, 02:45 AM
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I have had experience with both HP Proliant and Dell PowerEdge servers over the past few years. As for which one I prefer, I would go with the HP DL360/380 (I think the G5 is the current one, maybe the G6 these days). I like the modular-ness of it more than a Dell PE, easier to replace anything that may go bad.

As for upgrading, I don't think that will go over well with many pre-made servers (such as these) as they are all custom made for the motherboards and CPUs they run. Upgrading and keeping the chassis in place may cost almost as much (or as much) as a new server, if there is even an option for it.

If you want to upgrade a server, I would recommend custom building one. The chassis kits usually have a pretty standard motherboard size, which makes swapping those out very simple.

For what you will be using the server for, ten web sites with static content (depending on how much traffic you are planning on seeing) should run great on any of these servers. Once you start adding a database though, depending on how much that is accessed you could see disk I/O climb and slow down the server. Usually I recommend to customers that they have one server for serving the web content, then have a dedicated database server. Keeping this separate will make it easier to do maintenance on the database and keep the web site portion up, high database usage will not cause the web server to stop serving content and it will be a little more secure as well (which may be a concern for you especially if you plan on having personal data in the database).

As for Operating System which I saw discussed in the earlier posts, I have seen far more performance out of UNIX/Linux servers than Windows and they are also far more secure. Sorry Windows guys, but with all these worms and other exploits being released in the past few years and being a security consultant, I cannot recommend Windows for anything more than a Desktop. My favorite server OS is FreeBSD. Out of the box install is vastly secure than most server OS I have seen and with more lockdown done it can be quite bulletproof. I've also seen FreeBSD servers take a beating load-wise and still keep serving content without issue.
 
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Old 08-12-09, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by tekkitan View Post
As for Operating System which I saw discussed in the earlier posts, I have seen far more performance out of UNIX/Linux servers than Windows and they are also far more secure. Sorry Windows guys, but with all these worms and other exploits being released in the past few years and being a security consultant, I cannot recommend Windows for anything more than a Desktop. My favorite server OS is FreeBSD. Out of the box install is vastly secure than most server OS I have seen and with more lockdown done it can be quite bulletproof. I've also seen FreeBSD servers take a beating load-wise and still keep serving content without issue.
I agree with Tekkitan. The Mac OSX Server which is based on BSD from what I have heard from IT, has never caused any problems unlike the Microsoft based servers. Another great sell on the Mac OSX Server is that you have unlimited licences, where as you have to pay a lot of money for Microsofts licences. It is also easy to setup and use.

Here's more info if your interested in it:

Apple - Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard - All about the key features
 
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Old 08-12-09, 01:48 PM
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I'm curious why you don't just go with a regular already set up and connected web hosting service rather than trying to build and run your own servers?

You definitely need to check on the outbound speed for your business service, most still aren't set up for much traffic.
 
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Old 08-12-09, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Pendragon View Post
I'm curious why you don't just go with a regular already set up and connected web hosting service rather than trying to build and run your own servers?

You definitely need to check on the outbound speed for your business service, most still aren't set up for much traffic.
Depends on where he is hosting it. If he is hosting it at home, he really should reconsider.

Also, the NIC will not matter for internet unless you have a very fast internet connection. Most cable connections these days are between 1.5mbit all the way up to 50mbit. A gigabit ethernet card isn't going to offer you any performance enhancement over 100mbit in this situation.

If you are planning to host from home, I guess a business internet connection will work. But then you have to think about reliability. If your power goes out, will this be a problem? What able the internet? Business class DSL/cable will do it's job but in my experience it is as unstable as regular home broadband.

If you decide against home hosting at this point, I would recommend either buying a server and colocating it with a company that has business that depends on stable power sources and stable internet connectivity. If you are worried about upgrading and replacing failed hardware, you could even just rent a dedicated server. For instance, I've had a dedicated server with ThePlanet.com for years. I don't think I have had any downtime to my knowledge in a couple years that wasn't my own fault. There are plenty of other co-location facilities and dedicated server hosts, just search for them on Google if you want to check them out.

It really depends on your needs for these web sites you will be hosting.
 
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