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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Zentyal as a replacement for Windows Server ?

    We are currently running Windows Server 2003 and it's about time to upgrade.. however, looking at the prices of Server 2012 licences, I was looking for a possible more cost-effective alternative.

    I've used Zentyal a bit a long time ago.. not as a full replacement for Windows server though.

    Does anybody have experience, if this is a good idea, i.e. if a Zentyal server would provide equivalent functionality for a small business environment as a Win Server would ?
    dns, dhcp, user managment (active directory), group policies, backup, firewall, printer sharing...


    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    McCloud, as this is your first post and it looks a bit like an ad, can you assure us you are not affiliated with Zentyal?

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
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    To answer your question, given the cost of installation and support - plenty of people know and use windows server - I would opt for upgrading to Windows Server 2012.
    There is no major rush to migrate, just ensure your server is protected via anti-virus and don't allow users to use it to access the internet.

    cheers, Paul

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    McCloud (2016-02-05)

  5. #4
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    thank you. Yes, Windows is much more established... I am not sure why it's so damn expensive though.

    I though about at least spreading out the cost of the upgrade, by buying new hardware first and install and configure the evaluation copy of Windows and after the 180 days just upgrade to a full license... although I've heard that licensing the server with a domain controller is quite problematic for some reason. Do you have any personal experience with that ?


    And ye, I realized that my post might seem like an ad, after I've posted it. I can confirm that I am not an affiliate... I thought Zentyal was open-source and free of charge anyway, right ?

  6. #5
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    Windows seems expensive until you are attempting to sort out an issue on "the other" OS and you have no idea where to start, especially with the boss peering over your shoulder.

    I've only ever bought the software with the hardware, short term penny pinching just makes more work later and there are always more pressing matters to attend to. Besides, what's the issue with $500 on your $6k server?

    Zentyal is commercial software with a free community edition.

    cheers, Paul

    p.s. use the old hardware to run VMware or similar and you can fire up a bunch of test machines - you always need a test machine.

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    McCloud (2016-02-05)

  8. #6
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    Ok, I see what you mean..

    Yes, I was planning to set up a virtual test machine to 'replicate' the real scenario. As we still have the old server running, I thought I'd just deploy the new one and test it out on a few users and if everything works, migrate the whole office onto it.
    Not sure how this would work with a virtual machine.. I could probably even use Hyper V for this in some way ? To replicate a working test copy onto the 'real' instance.
    In what way exactly (or for what reasons) do you use a test machine alongside the main server machine ?

    btw, my server won't be $6k - we are a small office

  9. #7
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    I was suggesting you use the VMs for testing after you have the new machine in and running.
    vSphere Hypervisor is free on a single machine, then you can load whatever OS on your VMs. There is also XenServer if VMware doesn't support your hardware.

    If you need help with the migration, just ask.

    cheers, Paul

    p.s. I can see a reasonable server for $3k plus discounted Windows at $540. Can't really do it for less in my book.

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    McCloud (2016-02-05)

  11. #8
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    ok, thanks a lot Paul.
    I have sent you a PM with the server details.

  12. #9
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    Sorry, I don't do PMs. Please post here.

    cheers, Paul

  13. #10
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    Although I am getting a bit off topic, here it is:

    Dell PowerEdge T110II
    - Intel® Xeon® Processor E3-1230v2, 4C/8T, 3.30GHz, 8M Cache, 69W, Turbo
    - 4GB Memory (1x4GB), 1600MT/s, Single Ranked, Low Volt UDIMM
    - TB, SATA, 3.5-in, 7.2K RPM Hard Drive

    525 euro (I am not based in US) + the Windows of course.

    This should be more than sufficient for our needs, office ~40 ppl, just acting as a DC (ad, dns, dhcp), connected to NAS for file sharing & storage, basic backup, printer sharing, VPN connection for a couple of users.

  14. #11
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    I would never run a DC with less than redundant hardware.

    Twin power supply.
    2 hot swap disks in RAID 1.
    8GB RAM in a server.
    And a UPS, of course.

    A Dell T320 comes in at about 2.5k including Windows.

    cheers, Paul

  15. #12
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    thanks for the input. I mean, I've never bought server HW, so I am not that experienced in this area..

    Your setup would be perfect for a large(er) company I guess. I will give that a thought though..
    A couple follow up questions:
    - What risks does it present, in case the server would go down ? Apart from the users not being able to access the domain of course.
    - if I have the disks raided and one goes down, can I just swap it and the system would seamlessly run on the other one ? and then automatically start copying the contents from the running disk onto the new one ? or do I need to setup the raid again through bios.
    - I've never come across a UPS.. from my understanding, it provides the extra power only for a couple of minutes.. What if the power outage happens at night, when nobody's present ?
    - what is the additional RAM good for ?

    Thanks again!

  16. #13
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    As the server is your internet gateway and print spooler you will have a lot of unhappy campers when it fails. Making it robust is good business practice.

    Additional RAM is always good to have for that extra software the boss just has to have, and it's not expensive.

    RAID 1 provides redundancy in case of disk failure. If one disk fails you can happily run on the other without interruption. When the failed disk has been replaced the RAID controller will automatically re-build the array. Do not use software RAID, stick to hardware, in this case an H200 controller. Hardware controllers manage the RAID array for you and leave Windows to get on with doing Windows things.
    You need to set up the drive monitoring and email failure notifications to several people.
    If you want to save money opt for non-hot swap disks - A T110 II. This just means you have shut the server down for disk replacement.

    A UPS will run the server for as long as you want, just depends on how much you spend. It also prevents data loss / corruption in the case of power outage.
    Get one that gives you 30 - 60 minutes of backup and install the auto-shutdown software that comes with the UPS. Then the server will gracefully shut down if the power is off for a long time.

    I make it just under 2k without UPS, add a 1500VA UPS for 500 and you can use it to power the ancilliaries, internet etc - don't scrimp on the UPS, you don't want 5 minutes backup as it takes that long to find out someone kicked the plug out.

    cheers, Paul

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  18. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T
    A UPS will run the server for as long as you want, just depends on how much you spend. It also prevents data loss / corruption in the case of power outage.
    Get one that gives you 30 - 60 minutes of backup and install the auto-shutdown software that comes with the UPS. Then the server will gracefully shut down if the power is off for a long time.
    ... and also gives the server time to email you monitoring alerts in the middle of the night so you can be there first thing in the morning before the aforementioned unhappy campers arrive.

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    McCloud (2016-02-11),Paul T (2016-02-09)

  20. #15
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    oh, perfect. One last thing about the UPS - for example this one would give me 5 minutes of 'backup time', correct ? Compared to this cheaper one, which is apparently 6,6 min.

    Or better question - what are the most important specs I should look for in an UPS ?

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