Replacement server :A G5 to a G6?

Soldato
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Guys looking for some advice
At work we have been having very serious slowdowns in a piece of software which stores and recalls records.
We're a dental practice and currently have a HP Proliant ML 350 G5 with 3Gb ram running windows2003 for sbs, there are around 15 workstations(a couple of admin machine 5 reception machines and 8 surgery machines).
All can be in use, but generally usage isn't overly heavy, major DB searches are designed to be run when noone is working, and the slowdowns appear to be specific to our dental software (Software of Excellence Exact program)
There would be light internet usage on the machines, email usage using outlook, through what I assume is exchange on the server.
The server will be 4 years old in the autumn and we've been advised it is time to upgrade then, before it kells over and dies.
Between now and then I will likely increase the RAM by a 1GB and see if that helps matters at all, a cheap option to buy some time.

We've had a recent quote for a replacement server, upgrading to a G6, with 12GB RAM and running SBS 2008 SP2.
Should this give us a considerable improvement in server performance?
Is the quote reasonable?

HEWLETT PACKARD ML350 G6 DUAL PROCESSOR 1 1,122.00 1,122.00
HEWLETT PACKARD 4GB DUAL RANK x4 PC3- 3 200.00 600.00
HP 2610-24G Switch 1 345.00 345.00
HP TV Ultrium SAS TV Drive - Includes 4 extra pieces of media - SAS HBA required when 1 1048.00 1,048.00
HP Ultrium Data Cartridge 400GB 10 25.79 257.90
On-Site Installation and Server Migration 2 500.00 1,000.00
APC Smart-UPS 1000VA USB & Serial RM 1U 230V 1 440.00 440.00
HP 300GB Hot Pluggable SAS Small Form Factor 10 000 rpm 6GB/s Dual-Port Universal Hard 4 435.19 1,740.76
2 - Server Software
CA ARCSERVE BACKUP R15 FOR WINDWOS 1 458.00 458.00
Windows Small Business Server (SBS) CAL Ste 2008 English MLP Clt AddPak User CAL 9 72.00 648.00
Windows SBS Standard 2008 SP2 1pk DSP OEM DVD 1-4CPU Including 5 Clients 1 625.00 625.00
4 - Services
Workshop Prep & Project Management 1 500.00 500.00
On-Site Fine Tuning and Site Admin 1 500.00 500.00

Is that backup system a good one?
I think it is similar to the tapedrive systemms we use currently
Is arcserve good?
Thanks for any input folks.
 
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Are you buying the new kit because of the slow downs? of course a hardware vendor will tell you to upgrade, he wants his commission!

I would look more at the current set up, find out where the problem is and see what the cost would be to get that sorted against the cost of new kit + down time + application installation costs etc.

Replacing everything is a bigger job than you think.
 
Soldato
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We know it is a big job, but thus far neither hardware nor software providers have been able to identify the cause of the slowdown with any precision, while logged into the system, and with running various investigation over a period of weeks and indeed months.

Will the new system be a significant improvement on the old one, given the OS migration how much hardware improvement will be eaten up?
Is that backup solution a good one?
 
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How much of a slowdown are you seeing? Exact isn’t a heavy system, we have had clients running it on ML350 G3's with no issues.

SBS 2008 already has a backup system built into it, you can use USB 2.5" hard drives to back it up. If you need a more advanced backup system (e.g. restore a single email) look at Symantec Backup Exec 2010.

Do those prices include VAT?
 
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Soldato
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Id say at least put some more memory into it and see if it improves.

Ive seen servers do more than yours and be fine with it. Also whats your network infrastructure like?
 
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Replacing it isn't the worst of ideas given it's age, but without determining root cause it's a blunderbus approach. Let's hope it's not your workstations or network :)
 
Soldato
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How much of a slowdown are you seeing? Exact isn’t a heavy system, we have had clients running it on ML350 G3's with no issues.

SBS 2008 already has a backup system built into it, you can use USB 2.5" hard drives to back it up. If you need a more advanced backup system (e.g. restore a single email) look at Symantec Backup Exec 2010.

Do those prices include VAT?

For the exact slowdown the system grinds to a halt, and even on occasion has required killing of the server process and restarting it. Which means logging each workstation back in after theprocess restart.
When it grinds to this situation it sometimes recovers itself, and goes back to normal, this isn't coinciding with any backup, or other process, but if you run a DB search for clients etc, it does make the system groan, and noticable slowdown is generated.
We seem to be getting disk queues and indeed memory page queue's during this time from what I can tell, but I am unsure what to run and how to intrepet logs in a fashion that would identify exactly whats wrong with the system as a whole.

During this time the workstations can't do anything on exact, as its waiting for server info, but their email, their internet and all other locally run program appear to function without any slowdown, it doesn't seem to be network based, but again I don't know how to ID for sure.

Any suggestions on identifying the culprit components?
 
Soldato
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SBS 2008 already has a backup system built into it, you can use USB 2.5" hard drives to back it up. If you need a more advanced backup system (e.g. restore a single email) look at Symantec Backup Exec 2010.

Do those prices include VAT?


Intersting regarding the backup solutions, so straight backup for removal harddrive and swap the drive each day for offsite storage?

The prices do not include VAT, so overall comes in around £12000.

4*500 for various aspects of the labour seemed steep to me, but then I've never configured a 15 client server before.
 
Soldato
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Id say at least put some more memory into it and see if it improves.

Ive seen servers do more than yours and be fine with it. Also whats your network infrastructure like?

I'll likely do the memory first.
Must say the slowdowns are seemingly random, not at the same time each day, nor happen everyday, but whn they do productivity goes into the floor, and fustrations go through the roof.

Network iirc is Cat5 stuff linked around the house all to a central switch... the type of which escapes me at the moment. I'll try to get a network breakdown tomorrow if I can.
 
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What kind of database does it use? if it's MS SQL 2005 or similar you can look at the database profile analyzer and tuning advisor, it could be down to needing some indexes created on your databases to speed up searches?
 
Soldato
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HEWLETT PACKARD ML350 G6 DUAL PROCESSOR 1 1,122.00 1,122.00
HEWLETT PACKARD 4GB DUAL RANK x4 PC3- 3 200.00 600.00 <== double what they should cost
HP 2610-24G Switch 1 345.00 345.00 <== Expensive, and is a managed switch actually required?
HP TV Ultrium SAS TV Drive - Includes 4 extra pieces of media - SAS HBA required when 1 1048.00 1,048.00
HP Ultrium Data Cartridge 400GB 10 25.79 257.90
On-Site Installation and Server Migration 2 500.00 1,000.00
APC Smart-UPS 1000VA USB & Serial RM 1U 230V 1 440.00 440.00 <== Paying a premium for a 1U UPS to go with a tower server?
HP 300GB Hot Pluggable SAS Small Form Factor 10 000 rpm 6GB/s Dual-Port Universal Hard 4 435.19 1,740.76 <== shouldn't cost more than £300 each
2 - Server Software
CA ARCSERVE BACKUP R15 FOR WINDWOS 1 458.00 458.00
Windows Small Business Server (SBS) CAL Ste 2008 English MLP Clt AddPak User CAL 9 72.00 648.00 <== SBS Premium CALs for a SBS Standard server?
Windows SBS Standard 2008 SP2 1pk DSP OEM DVD 1-4CPU Including 5 Clients 1 625.00 625.00
4 - Services
Workshop Prep & Project Management 1 500.00 500.00
On-Site Fine Tuning and Site Admin 1 500.00 500.00
 
Soldato
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What kind of database does it use? if it's MS SQL 2005 or similar you can look at the database profile analyzer and tuning advisor, it could be down to needing some indexes created on your databases to speed up searches?

I have no idea what sort of DB Exact uses. I can look into that. They have reindexed on several occasions for us, and this hasn't sorted the issues.
 
Soldato
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HEWLETT PACKARD ML350 G6 DUAL PROCESSOR 1 1,122.00 1,122.00
HEWLETT PACKARD 4GB DUAL RANK x4 PC3- 3 200.00 600.00 <== double what they should cost
HP 2610-24G Switch 1 345.00 345.00 <== Expensive, and is a managed switch actually required?
HP TV Ultrium SAS TV Drive - Includes 4 extra pieces of media - SAS HBA required when 1 1048.00 1,048.00
HP Ultrium Data Cartridge 400GB 10 25.79 257.90
On-Site Installation and Server Migration 2 500.00 1,000.00
APC Smart-UPS 1000VA USB & Serial RM 1U 230V 1 440.00 440.00 <== Paying a premium for a 1U UPS to go with a tower server?
HP 300GB Hot Pluggable SAS Small Form Factor 10 000 rpm 6GB/s Dual-Port Universal Hard 4 435.19 1,740.76 <== shouldn't cost more than £300 each
2 - Server Software
CA ARCSERVE BACKUP R15 FOR WINDWOS 1 458.00 458.00
Windows Small Business Server (SBS) CAL Ste 2008 English MLP Clt AddPak User CAL 9 72.00 648.00 <== SBS Premium CALs for a SBS Standard server?
Windows SBS Standard 2008 SP2 1pk DSP OEM DVD 1-4CPU Including 5 Clients 1 625.00 625.00
4 - Services
Workshop Prep & Project Management 1 500.00 500.00
On-Site Fine Tuning and Site Admin 1 500.00 500.00

Thank you, this is good input on the hardware pricing side of things.
 
Soldato
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I'd also say have you checked the servers CPU/Memory/Disk usage to see what if anything is being stressed? if your server isn't under load then it won't help to have a more powerful server really!

Also if it's a certain process using all the resource/crashing check that in task manager but add in some extra columns such as thread count, handle count etc, if anything looks out of the ordinary it could be down to whatever the process is doing.
 
Soldato
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Memory and disk usage are the things which appear to be getting slammed.
We have page queues when the system goes into slowdown.
 
Soldato
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I installed process explorer and added various columns for investigating the slow downs, but to be quite honest from looking at it, i can't identify exactly where the issue is, but it does seem to related to periods of heavy Db query, that can certainly exacerbate the issue.

Any setting I can specifically set in the likes of process explorer and then flag up for your guys to view to see what might be the cause.
 
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You need to know what RDBMS it uses to get a better look at what is happening.

What are the names of the processes which are chewing CPU and ram?

Also perfmon is better at this kind of diagnostics than process explorer, especially when looking at trends.
 
Soldato
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Ah okay well tomorrow I shall run perfmon and then start a search process which should excerbate the issue.
How do i tell the difference between poor hard drive performance and memory paging etc etc? Simply see what graph spikes and remains spiked?
 
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Ah okay well tomorrow I shall run perfmon and then start a search process which should excerbate the issue.
How do i tell the difference between poor hard drive performance and memory paging etc etc? Simply see what graph spikes and remains spiked?

Have a read of this before you start.

http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Key-Performance-Monitor-Counters.html

I'm not saying this is the best guide, as there are loads including one from Microsoft which couldn't find quickly.
 
Soldato
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A good idea here is to configure a perfmon alert that triggers when the number of pages per second exceeds 50 per paging disk on your system.

This would appear to be our issue, althought the system claims that we have stacks of free RAM, when a large DB query is started, or a small one during busy periods, then the Memory\Pages/sec counter in perfmon goes up to 100 and stays there, we have global slowdown, which returns to normal when this monitored level drops back to a virtual zero level.

More RAM?
 
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