TechRepublic member webdrewjen describes himself as “a fairly green systems administrator” who last year inherited a small business network with about 50 desktops and two servers. Now he’s ready to do some upgrading and make improvements to the network to increase its efficiency, security, and uptime. He’s looking for some input from other IT professionals here at TechRepublic to help him make his design decisions, as he briefly explained in this discussion post. Webdrewjen provided TechRepublic with some additional information on his situation. Let’s take a closer look at his quandary.

A network in need of an upgrade
The network at webdrewjen’s company contains a five-year-old Windows NT 4.0 Server (running on a PII 350-MHz system with 512 MB of RAM) that currently functions as the company’s PDC, file and print server, and e-mail server (running Microsoft Mail). Webdrewjen describes this machine as tired and says that it contains no fault-tolerant power supplies or hard drives.

“E-mail is quickly becoming critical, and with the company expanding its customer base overseas, fault-tolerant servers are becoming necessary,” he said. He also bemoaned Microsoft Mail’s lack of features, security, and enterprise-level backup.

The company’s other server is a newly deployed Windows 2000 Server running an ERP system. This server also hosts the company’s engineering drawings, and webdrewjen wants to make sure that this server is not negatively affected by any changes to the network.

Recently, webdrewjen decided to upgrade his company’s desktop software to Windows XP and Office XP. However, after purchasing all of the licenses, he discovered that Outlook 2002 (in Office XP) does not support Microsoft Mail. That has provided further motivation to upgrade the mail server.

Here are some of the upgrade options that webdrewjen is considering:

  • Purchasing a new server with Windows 2000 and Exchange and moving all mail operations to that server
  • Purchasinng a new server with Linux, setting up a Linux mail server, and moving all mail operations to that server
  • Reformatting and reconfiguring the NT4 server to include Exchange or another Windows mail server

Join the discussion
In a nutshell, that’s the dilemma that webdrewjen is currently facing. In terms of the feedback he needs, he said, “I’m looking for some unbiased ideas on replacing an out-of-date mail server. What are the advantages of Exchange over some of the Linux mail servers? What are some other good Windows-based mail servers?”

Click here to provide your ideas and input.