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Redoing cluttered server room


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#1 Nytekrawlerr

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 07:51 PM

Hello all,

This is aside from a previous post in the storage/hard drive sub forum, basically I have to deal with a server room, which looks like a mess there is no organization and I feel that there could be things done to help this issue.

I want to also backup my network server and create a secondary backup for 12 or so computers where they can be backed up weekly.

Can anyone suggest me to somewhere with a revelant information or even a guide?

There is much that I do not know about servers. I am not a computer dummy to say the least, as I have built computers and have repaired several laptops for family and friends; however, servers and the such are simply a new field for me, and everywhere I look on the net has no real answers or information. That is why I hope someone here can either give me some advise/suggestions or perhaps point me in the right direction.

Additionally, I have been doing some reading and have wanted to know, what are the perks to a completely wireless setup to cut from using so much wiring, is that feasible or still way to forward into the future (aka expensive?). I also do not have a huge buget to work with.

Thank you in advance.
~Nyte

#2 Zertz

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 08:07 PM

Additionally, I have been doing some reading and have wanted to know, what are the perks to a completely wireless setup to cut from using so much wiring, is that feasible or still way to forward into the future (aka expensive?). I also do not have a huge buget to work with.

I'm no expert, but as far as storage goes, a NAS is probably the best solution for your storage and backup needs.

Wired will be (much) cheaper and arguably more secure and reliable. Especially that you only have 12 computers. You can work with a single switch and organize the wiring neatly from the start. Ethernet cable is cheap and a Gigabit switch is relatively affordable as well.

Some people are like slinkies - not really good for anything but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.


#3 Nytekrawlerr

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 08:26 PM

Ok,

I was just looking at some suggestions and review links for a couple of NAS, what are the benefits to these as opposed to a 1TB external harddrive? I need an understanding, because the boss is limiting how much buget I am allowed to have for what he wants me to do. Also, from the looks of the server room I have 3 servers, a router, and what looks like a switch board (I am assuming that is the thing with a bunch of ethernet style cables running off of it) also, we have a DVR security system and 2 monitors (one is for the dvr security), also in the back we have several external hardrives just sitting around plugged in and in the front a little walgrees style fan blowing directly at the server tower. I will take a picture and show you eventually and perhaps get some guidance on making it neat, and going thru each to possibly upgrading them. which will be a next topic "how do i upgrade a server" lol.

Thanks for the info so far!

#4 uneedav8

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 09:20 PM

What exactly needs to be backed up from the 12 computers? Are these random files? etc.

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#5 Zertz

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 10:21 PM

If you don't care for data security, just keep those external drives. A NAS unit will let you run a RAID 1/5 so even if a drive fails, you don't lose anything. If your external drive fails, well... you just lost your backups.

P.S. No offense, but are you sure you have the skill to do this job?...

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#6 Nemo

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 08:18 AM

First of all - step away from the server room, Now take a deel breath. Now take another one.

Forget wireless. Zertz has already pointed out the benefits and the last thing you need to do is add complexity.

The first thing you need to do before you go running around changing things is to determine exactly what you have.

"3 servers, a router, and what looks like a switch board (I am assuming that is the thing with a bunch of ethernet style cables running off of it) also, we have a DVR security system and 2 monitors (one is for the dvr security), also in the back we have several external hardrives just sitting around plugged in and in the front a little walgrees style fan blowing directly at the server tower."

That's not very specific. Let's start with the servers. What OS are they running? Are any of them running a true server OS? What function(s) do these servers perform?

You mention a router. What make and model and how is it configured?

A switch board? Is this a switch or just a patch panel? We need more info.

Whats on the network - "12 or so computers" - be specific and also identify any other devices on the network such as printers.

The next step is to draw yourself a basic network diagram. This will help you understand what you have and make it easier to visualize.

I'm also concerned about the "several external hardrives just sitting around..." Are they being used and if so, what for and how much data is on them and to which machines are they connected?

Now, you've asked about NAS devices here and in your other thread. The benefits over a single external drive are numerous, but chief among them are:
- Greater flexibilty
- Redundancy
- Allows for shared access across the network
- Allow greater capacity and you can expand capacity as needs grow with volume expansion
- Some can be used as depositiry for security cam recordings
- Can be administered through Web interface
- Built in security

The only drawback is cost when compared to a single external drive.

As for backing up the 12 computers weekly - they should be configured to store all the data on the servers and not locally and then you can back up the servers on a nighlty basis.

This just touches the surface, but at this point, you might want to consider what Zertz asked and decide whether you want to get into this until you have a lottle stronger knowledge base.

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#7 Nytekrawlerr

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 10:11 AM

What exactly needs to be backed up from the 12 computers?

- work files

I need data security and I know from reading that simpling backing up to one external harddrive that is not designed to run 24/7 will burn out.

The owner of the company (small company) wants me to do this, he does not want to hire an IT company, and I have enough skill that I should be able to manage the servers. I am more or less asking for suggestions and advice on certain aspects of the project. I know that there is a hirer cost and a much more complexity to wireless; however, I wanted to throw that out into the mix and see what information I could find on it. You made your points clear and have just reconfirmed my original outlook of this project.

I will gather the specific information and put it together, thanks for the idea of drawing up a Network diagram; also, the reason I kept asking for specific information regarding the benefits of a NAS over the stand alone harddrive that I originally asked about is because of the cost difference. The owner wants me to buy $100 external harddrives (2 of them), I need to "build" my case why this is not an effective solution and why an investment of $800 dollars on a NAS is more beneficial to the company. Which, you answered. This is the information that I will need in order to present it as a valid reason.

I will expand further on the specifics of the servers.

The main issue I see is that the servers were put together by someone else who had no previous experience; however, I rather put out there, that I am probably a lot more capable and would have reseached before putting everything together the way it is. I would have also taken these steps to gather as much information and knowledge before even attempting to mess with the servers.

I just need someone to point me in the right direction, I will be building up my knowledge base before I begin dealing with the server room, which probably will not happen within the next month or so.

Thank you so far for all of the information you have given me.

#8 Zertz

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 10:31 AM

The cost issue here is simple. Is your data worth the cost difference? In a business context, of course! Let's say an entry level $700 NAS. Four drives will run for $100 to $150, but you only need two or three for RAID 1 or 5. Just around a $1000 to make your data infinitely safer than storing it locally or on external drives.

Twelve or so servers for what seems like a small business is a lot. I don't know what the servers do or what the hardware is, but with modern enough hardware and depending on the tasks at hand, virtualization is possibly something you might want to look into. Virtualization software is free and you already have your OS licenses, so you could only save money. Less power, less heat... Then again, this isn't the easy short term route. In the long term however...

Some people are like slinkies - not really good for anything but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.


#9 Nytekrawlerr

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 04:21 PM

I might have miscommunicated myself, 12 workstations, connected to 3 servers. I believe that one of the servers is used for Front end applications, one of the servers is a client server and the last server I am not sure, perhaps a backup server?

As for the router is a Linksys WRGT350N and the switchboard is made by 3com, I did not get to see the model number as it is cluttered with cables galore. As for the servers they are Dell PowerEdge, our DVR system is by Q-SEE.

There is an Iomega 1TB external harddrive backing up our system files currently. Also, I believe there is a Fathon external harddrive hiding behind the Server rack.

I spoke to the owner and was able to mention the benefits of a NAS unit versus a regular external harddrive and he is willing to look into it and put money into investing on it. That, again, is why I asked for precise benefits to these units.

I will be reading the review on those NAS that you provided (nemo) thank.

Again, the idea is for me to learn what each server responsibility is and if it is being used properly, I want to improve what we have and I also want to invest wisely into cost effective measures to achieving this.

Also, with a 5 bay NAS unit, does this allow me to interchange HDDs and add more storage space?

Thank you, for all the support and advise.
~J

#10 Nemo

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 04:40 PM

Also, with a 5 bay NAS unit, does this allow me to interchange HDDs and add more storage space?

It depends on the NAS unit, but if it offers volume expansion or online RAID expansion then you can start out with 3 drives in RAID 5 and add drives to the volume later. It also allows you to replace the drives one by one with larger drives as well. This can all be done with taking the NAS unit offline or affecting the availability of the data stored on the volume.

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#11 Nytekrawlerr

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 04:47 PM

After reviewing the QNAP TS-509, I went on newegg.com to look at them and I saw this: QNAP SS-839 Pro Diskless System, I am wondering does the QNAP TS-509 in regards to data security come with the same AES 256-bit volume capabilities? I want something that is good on data security.

Also, these systems do not come with harddrives? So, my next question, if I wanted to go this route and purchase a QNAP SS-839 Pro or TS-509, what is a recommended setup for HDDs?

I guess what I am asking is, if you were to put one together for a small business: how would you set it up and what would you put in it (including cost).

Thanks again.
~j

#12 Nemo

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 05:19 PM

The TS-509 supports disk volume encryption, however I don't know which method it employs.

Some units come with drives, like those from Iomega, Segate and Western Digital. Micronet also offers one with drives. The ones from Qnap, Thecus and Synology that we've reviewed are diskless.

Until I know what the the storage requirements are, rate of growth of new data, etc. it's really not possible to offer any recommendations on disk setups.

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