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  1. #1
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    Upgrading to Windows Server 2012 Standard from SBS 2011

    Hi

    We currently have a dedicated Windows SBS 2011 Box in the office with an i5, 16GB of memory & a 2x 2TB Sata3 HDDs running Raid1. For some reason the server is really slow and I've tried various things to try and get it to speed up with little success. I am now considering building a new server but I think that VMs is going to be the better way to go but I could really do with some advice so that I get our new server(s) configuration right and not have to revisit it in 12 months time.

    If I out line our requirements could somebody please advice a server setup that will work for us.

    - We have 18 users, increasing to 30ish over the next 3 years
    - We'll need the standard stuff like Active Directory, VPN, DNS, DHCP, File Sharing
    - Microsoft Exchange 2010 with OWA
    - 2 x Website Applications (Kayako Fusion & TargetProcess)

    Do I go with a super box running 2 or 3 VMs or 3 separate dedicate servers etc.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Many thanks
    Last edited by cradster; 2012-09-14 at 07:10.

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  3. #2
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    Welcome cradster!

    Server 2012 is a good punt, but as you appear to already know you would need to go to Standard rather than Essentials to accommodate 30 users. You could consider Hyper-V for the Exchange and any SQL requirements, but for 30 users in 3 years time, this might be adding unnecessary complexity (other people here may consider differently). To me, this is still a very small user base that a reasonable physical box can handle on its own. The VPN, AD, DHCP, DNS roles and features is a given: they should not put any real load on the machine.

    I think it would be worthwhile spending more time trying to figure out why the existing server seems slow. Without understanding this, the problems may come back even on new hardware...

    For example:

    RAID1 will only mirror: so you may have data bottlenecks, even with SATA3 disks. Better with a hardware controller running RAID 5 from SAS drives.

    Do you have a second Domain Controller? Are roaming profiles enabled? Is there much network traffic? What is you backup strategy? What AV software and proxy solutions do you have? All these can have a bearing on the performance of the system.
    In God we trust; all others must bring data.

    - William Edwards Deming. 1900 - 1993

  4. #3
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    Hi Tinto Tech

    Thanks for getting back to me. I suspect the RAID1 we are currently running is whats behind the slow downs although its odd that from a reboot it takes around 8 hours to startrunning slow. I remember removing a RAID1 configuration from a Windows 2003 box years ago and that did make a massive difference at the time.

    - We dont have a second DC, just this box.
    - Roaming profiles aren't enabled (i dont think).
    - Not too much traffic, currently 18 machines accessing the server for AD, DNS, DHCP, Exchange & 1 Shared Folder etc.
    - Exchange uses a Pop3 connector to gather emails on a 5 minute poll.
    - Once a night each client PC backs itself up and stores the backup within a sub folder of the 1 Shared Folder on the server.
    - The server also backs itself up in the early hours of the morning using the standard windows incremental backup to 2 x external USB 3.0 drives.
    - avast for the the AV although this hasn't been on long and I was experiencing the slow down before installing AV.
    - No proxy, the gateway is the router which is a Draytek 2820 with filtering and a firewall enabled.

    I do like what I've seen of Essentials 2012 and I believe the users limit can be increased to 75 by supplying a Standard key. If I was to go down the route of a new server what would be your advice? 2012 Hyper-V Server running 2 x VMs, 1 for Essentials 2012 & 1 for Standard 2012 with Exchange 2010-2013? There are so many ways of doing it its difficult to know whats best.

  5. #4
    Gold Lounger
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    That box is more than enough to run 30 users with your set up and as you say, it slows down after 8 hours, not immediately. I would run the performance monitor to see where the bottleneck is. Perform a baseline test immediately after a re-boot and then one the next day to compare.

    Software RAID is always a bad idea. The OS has to work much harder and the possibility if data loss due to power / hardware problems is greater. A server should always run a battery backed hardware RAID controller. At a pinch you can take the disks out of a failed server and fire them up in a similar box without issue.

    Exchange is going to use the most resources by a fair margin. Check that it has plenty of RAM and no other program is hogging it.

    If you need more than one server VMs are a good solution, but the host needs to be up to the task, particularly it needs a fast disk sub-system - disk is always the bottleneck for VMs. Again, a battery backed hardware RAID controller is a minimum requirement, but you need the fastest one you can get - they do vary and it's always money that makes the difference. I would buy a server from one of the big manufacturers with redundant power supplies and 6 or 8 disks for the VMs, probably with an embedded OS - the disks must be independent of the OS.

    cheers, Paul

  6. #5
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    Big thanks for the info Paul

    Performance monitoring sounds like a good shout and I'll try and get that done next week.

    I have put a cap on the memory that exchange and SQL server use as an attempt to fix things but I think the next step may be to remove that limit and bang in 32GBs of memory. I'm also tempted to remove the raid but I'm always wary of touching raid after it has been setup in case the server won't boot up anymore but I guess thats what backups are for.

    I hear what you are saying about the RAID, to compensate the server is on a UPS that is also hooked up with a USB cable that tells the server to shutdown in the event of a power cut.

  7. #6
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    Cool Migrating Data, Policies and Active Director - SBS 2011 Essentials to 2012 Standard

    I am trying to migrate from one server to another. The source server is Windows SBS 2011 Essentials and the destination server is Windows 2012 Standard.

    I'd like to migrate, data, policies, printers, shares, policies and active directory.

    Is this possible with a migration tool? What are the proper steps?

    I can't find a relevant article to my situation in terms of migrating from 2011 SBS Essentials to 2012 Standard.

  8. #7
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    I don't have direct experience of that upgrade but the basics of any AD migration are:
    1. Add the new server as a domain member / DC. It needs to be a DC ultimately. This will migrate all the users for you.
    2. Install Exchange and migrate the mail stores. This is not for the faint hearted.
    3. Install / migrate any other software you are using on the server.
    4. Migrate user's data. I use Robocopy for the data and ADUC to change the drive mapping.
    5. Leave the old server running but deny user's access and wait for the compalints from those users you haven't migrated yet.
    6. Turn off the old server.

    cheers, Paul
    Last edited by Paul T; 2013-07-28 at 04:22.

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