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  • #966160
    Chris Bates
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    Hey Guys,

    Time for some brain picking! I just had a meeting with a small business (bakery) that wants a complete revamp of their infrastructure. And they badly need it! Problem is, I’ve never really done a proper server/client implementation, so I’m looking for advice on the actual setup.

    They have 3 PCs and 2 Printers at the moment, in 6-12 months they’re looking to add another 2-3 PCs. They share a small amount of data, main one being common MYOB access. But they also want a backup solution (for all server and user data) that they don’t have to fiddle with every night.

    My thinking so far:
    I’m going to set them up with an entry level server with MS Server Foundation, as it will suit their needs now and in the future.

    1) Networking
    Should it be networked Internet -> Modem -> Server -> Switch -> (Local Network)?
    Is it safe enough to use the server as the firewall, or should I utilize one of their old PCs as a dedicated firewall and have the main server behind the switch?

    2) Server
    Should I use a separate PC (like the ones we’ll be replacing) as a file server, or just use the server itself for file storage?

    3) Configuration
    Any good articles on the actual setup of an MS Server? I’d like to set them up with user accounts with user network drives. That way all private user, and shared data, is stored in one place for easy backup. But have never done this, so would need to teach myself first.

    4) Backup
    They want a no-fuss backup solution. I’m thinking a NAS for the most part, and maybe a separate NAS/USB Drive that the owner can bring in once a fortnight for a larger backup. I’m going to give them some info on Online Backup, but not sure if they’ll go for it. Will MS Server handle backup itself, or is there a better program to use?

    I sound like a complete noob, but I’d really appreciate the advice!

    Cheers,
    Chris

    #1016452
    Ken Wood
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    The brutal truth: if you look at it objectively, you can’t justify putting in a server, firewall, backup etc for a little company with only 3-6 users.

    It’s never going to make financial sense, let alone carrying the risk that they DON’T consistently follow the backup processes, store their tapes offsite, keep their PCs & servers patched up to date, monitor their firewall for intrusions etc etc.

    I realise this may go against your livelihood, but the best outcome for the client would be to sign them up to a subscription for a thin client-based managed service with one of our competitors.

    For a tiny business like that it’ll be more reliable, lower risk and lower overall cost than owning and managing all their own gear.

    Regards,
    Ken

    #1016453
    Chris Bates
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    You’re right, that goes again my livelihood! :P I did consider virtualization, however I think they would prefer a more tangible solution.

    I’ve signed up for a trial of IT on Tap to checkout what you can offer (as I noted you did affiliate/franchise). I’ve also started looking into what’s involved with setting up my own VMWare server and striking it out on my own.

    Exciting times!

    #1016454
    Ken Wood
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    Chris Bates, post: 18626 wrote:
    I’ve also started looking into what’s involved with setting up my own VMWare server and striking it out on my own.

    The only thing I’ll say is that you will need very deep pockets to do it properly…

    Cheers,
    Ken

    #1016455
    soliddata
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    Guys I have to make a point here – a small business of that size would not be using tapes these days for backup. They are right smack in the sweet spot for online backups, which removes those problems you mentioned with backups.

    When I look at new customers my various resellers are setting up, I am finding Small Business Servers are being utilised for smaller networks than before due to the price point being competitive.

    Chris give me a yell if you want to offer online backup as part of your solution – I can give you sample proposals.

    Kevin

    #1016456
    Chris Bates
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    Hey Kevin,

    I was meaning to contact you actually, do send me some info to [email protected]

    There’s no way I’d set a business of that size up with tapes :P

    Cheers,
    Chris

    #1016457
    soliddata
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    Emails sent.

    Ta

    Kev

    #1016458
    marvelit
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    Whats wrong with tapes? They are one of the most wideley used types of backups used to this day, and do a fantastic job at a decent price.

    There is still so many questions missing from your initial post before I could give you more advice.

    Do they own a domain?

    Do they need access to their emails from home?

    Do they want to run, or need an exchange server?

    Do they have users who need access to some data, but also should not have access to other files/ folders?

    Backing up to a NAS can have the following problems:

    If you backup over night, what if there is a blackout, are you going to have redundant power for it AND the server?

    What if they get robbed or burn down, they have no data off site? That means every piece of data would be gone.

    Are you going to monitor the nas to make sure it is getting backed up properly, if so, what software are you going to use?

    In regards to internet and network and manage services:

    Can they get business grade ADSL2+ in their area?

    How much data do they have, and do they use SQL databases for any of their products?

    Does the software they use provide you the use of VSS?

    How much data allowance do they get VS how much they are uploading a month?

    how much per GB is the managed services backup plans?

    It is very easy to blowout a budget as you can see from the questions above. Managed services like exchange / terminal servers and backups do suit some businesses, but not all.

    If you have not setup a server before, I would suggest not selling one to a client if you dont know what you are doing. This could be a HUGE recipie for disaster, and I have seen it happen too many times by people who are in the “IT industry” and have been ripped off and had to have alot of things redone by me.

    best thing to do to learn would be to setup a VM at home and setup your own exchange server / domain / even terminal server so you know how eveyrthing works.

    #1016459
    Chris Bates
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    I think you’ve missed the scale of this project. They do not need SQL or Exchange servers, nor do they want VMs or remote access, they are a micro business performing general office tasks. The most complex they get, is MYOB (which they want shared access to).

    The server I have sourced for them is an entry level one, with Windows Server Foundation. It’s main purpose really is for data collaboration, but also for the use of AD.

    They want a low fuss solution, especially in the form of backup. The use of External HDD as a backup medium is for it’s portability. I can set the owner up with a couple drives that he can rotate regularly. It’s not a fool proof backup plan, but it’s one limited by cost and capability, so it’s the best they can achieve for now.

    I appreciate your efforts, but I don’t plan to just plug it in and hope it works. I’ll spend my own time and efforts with the server before I take it to the business.

    #1016460
    marvelit
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    if they are a micro business then why do they need active directory?

    a low fuss solution cant really be given unless they have a budget to support it imho.

    Also, alot of software uses SQL databases, doesnt matter how small or big they are.

    You need to investigate all avenues before you provide a solution for someone is all im saying.

    #1016461
    Chris Bates
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    They simply don’t use any software that requires SQL, I have checked this. They did not want Exchange either. I did talk to them about their requirements :P The reason for AD really is just to establish a foundation, they do intend to keep growing.

    If you have a better solution, feel free to suggest. It is, after all, why I started this thread.

    #1016462
    marvelit
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    I would recommend either going to SBS 08 or just using a win xp box. If they want exchange or rrw later on it will cost them way more for cals etc

    #1016463
    JohnSheppard
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    I’m not a network admin person so take this with a grain of salt but I vote the virtualisation or alternately an on site SBS Server and thin-clients via terminal…

    Multiuser MYOB runs MUCH better in terminal than over a network…a bad network myob don’t like.

    Also it’ll cut their support costs to 10% and you’ll never have to go on site to fix anything…plus the install will be about half the price….expansion will cost them, a cal and a thin client they can just plug in with no setup….

    If it’s your livelihood and you are looking to make money, don’t give them stuff they don’t need. Charge them more for the right solution. It’s not about how much work you can bill out, but your pay rate.

    People who do it right get to charge more (in theory lol…unfortunately its the computer industry)

    #1016464
    marvelit
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    Unfortunatley SBS cannot run as a terminal server.

    I do agree that myob doesnt run as well over a network but for 5 people it wont make any difference.

    For a small business as his, he would be better to run sbs 08, and not use the exchange functionality, and if they want to run exchange later on, they can do so without having to upgrade or pay more for CALS.

    if network congestion is that bad, then they can simple run cat5e and get a gigabit switch and some gigabit network cards.

    i dont know what you mean you vote teh virtualisation though?

    Do you mean an offiste managed service?

    #1016465
    Chris Bates
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    Nah I think he’s talking a solution such as ncomputing.com

    I did look into it, but it didn’t look like it would work out that much cheaper. More-so because I was unsure how licensing worked!

    Exchange is not “supported” on Foundation, but it supposedly works doesn’t it? I don’t know that they’d ever use exchange, I did talk to them about it and they weren’t interested in it. I just based my solution on, they want affordable and simple, and foundation will support them up to 15 users.

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