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Thread: Server Question

  1. #1


    Member Since
    Dec 11, 2007
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    Server Question
    So here's the deal. I work at a small design studio made up of 7 people but growing quickly. At the moment we have no server and just work off our local hard drives. We're pretty much responsible for backing up our own finished jobs to DVD but have no nightly or even weekly back up system in place.

    We know we've way outgrown this shoddy system and we need to step out of the dark ages and get a server.

    We don't have our own dedicated It guy so we're doing some research to try to figure this all out. Not surprisingly our local Mac store has been super informative and helpful. They said it would be about 7k to get outfitted with a server. The specs are as follows.

    Processor: Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    Memory: 4GB (4 x 1GB)
    RAID Card: Mac Pro RAID Card
    Hardrive: 750GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s x 4

    So we're cool with that, but we decded to get some input from one of our offsite web developers. He thought we could get a windows server with equal specs for around 2k. Now we're all Apple fan boys (and girls) at our office so we don't need to be convinced that Apple rules and M$ sucks. But we do need to make an educated decision. For a small company like our own 3 grand saving is a nice chunk of change.

    That all said. Can any one help us figure out the pros and cons of going Mac or going Windows?

    Thanks!

  2. #2


    Member Since
    Dec 11, 2007
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    I forgot to mention, our entire office is mac based.

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Dec 05, 2007
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    We're about to deploy a system for the same number of users for the same purposes in the next few weeks.

    We're using an Xserve with x3 750Gb drives in RAID5 (with OS X Server 10.5) to start with.

    The reason for going with OS X Server over Windows, is purely for the ease of use for them. We have setup a number of similar systems on Windows, but as there is no IT guy they need to be able to control things. Unless your experienced with Windows, I wouldn't have thought it would be worth using it for your entire system.

    The system we're deploying, removes the need for local machines to store any data on their hard drives using OD and adds single sign-on throughout the entire network. This then allows all files to be stored on the server and then backed that is backed up rather than each individual workstation - which, as you may know, can be a pain.

  4. #4


    Member Since
    Dec 11, 2007
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    Ease of use will be paramount for us. I guess that leads me to wonder how non-easy it would be to go with a Windows server?

  5. #5

    Lifeisabeach's Avatar
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    I have trouble believing Apple is charging a $5,000 premium over "identical" Windows hardware. If you can get a server that seems similar for that much less, I'd be really concerned over its true quality and reliability. I used Windows for the longest time and built my own boxes, and I can say quite confidently that a lot of the problems people have with Windows is more the hardware. Cheap hardware results from poor quality control and little product testing, leading to a lot of trouble playing well with other components.

  6. #6


    Member Since
    Dec 11, 2007
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    I think the $2k might have been a very off the cuff reponse that we got. To be honest I have no idea how much a decent windows server would cost. I would tend to agree though, that price difference does sound a tad outrageous.

  7. #7


    Member Since
    Dec 05, 2007
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    $2k isn't that much if you want decent hardware. If you went with Apple hardware, what sort system are you looking at? I highly doubt your web developer will have given you a price for the exact hardware with the same reliability.

    Don't forget to add Windows licencing costs.

  8. #8

    MacsWork's Avatar
    Member Since
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    Specs:
    Performa 6116 2GBSCSI 8MB OS 7.5.3
    First of all,...

    You aren't comparing Apple's to Apple's. You are really taking a Mac Pro and loading a server OS and utilizing the RAID card add on to get hardware redundancy. Not Cheap. Apple knows the only RAID option is at their store so you pay $1000 to get it.

    We all know Apple has a HUGE markup on upgrades. My suggestion would be to buy after market RAM and HD's. Apple want's $500 per 750gb HD. Just get the same thing at NewEgg or CDW for $200x4. They want $700 for the 4gb RAM upgrade. I just bought the same spec RAM 4gb(2x2gb) kit for $369. You'd save roughly $1000 buying after market parts. You could also save $500 bucks upfront to go with the 10 user server OS vs the unlimited client. Unlimited is just a $500 upgrade down the road if needed. You could also save $300 to get the quad 2.0ghz.

    As for windows server pricing. Entry level HP and Dell servers are going to run in the $2k range without the Server OS and CAL's. That'd be SATA mirroring not RAID 5 too. Keep in mind a Mac Pro is designed to be a kick nuts workhorse not a server that just holds your data and processes print jobs. There aren't many Windows servers with 256mb Graphics cards or either.

    What's your backup plan? Figure another $500 for software (or go the shareware route), and depending on the size of your data, you'd need that amount of backup storage to accommodate it, and any archiving you might want. Off site backup is a whole other ball of wax.

    Did someone say warranty? I doubt the AppleCare plan for Mac Pro's cover server OS questions. Either way it's $250 for the 3yr extension on the Mac Pro warranty.

    What about power protection? You'd need to spec out a UPS that can handle your Mac Pro and your network infrastructure. Switches, router and so on. I'd figure on an APC Smart UPS 1000. That should handle the above mentioned and any external HD's that you might use as backup drives.

    And since we're talking network, you'd want to consider going gigabit if you haven't already. It's a huge performance boost. Likewise your Mac Pro would ship with two NICs. You might want a switch that supports link aggregation allowing you to team the NICs to get failover and higher throughput. Maybe that's TMI.

    Also Leopard server only allows Tiger and Leopard clients. If you're running Panther anywhere you'd need to upgrade them to Leopard.


    Phew.

    Chew on that a while. Hope it helps.

  9. #9


    Member Since
    Dec 11, 2007
    Posts
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    Wow, we will chew on that a bit. Thanks for the input, it's a huge help!

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