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Thoughts on connecting a server off-site with a dedicated connection

By greavette ·
Hello,

I support a small office that is 8 hours away from me. It's a small family business and my father asked me to help out with their network duties. They don't have anyone at their location who knows anything about computers or hardware (and unfortunately no one is interested in learning how to do this either) so if anything goes wrong with their system, they look to me to fix it. I've built a lot of backups into their network (Backup every image for every PC, each type of PC hardware has a backup unit that can be dropped in, spare router and switches, extra network cable, every PC has a UPC battery backup unit, etc).

They did buy a decent server with a raid 10 configuration, batery backup on the raid controller and hot swappable drive cage. The server is primarily used as a datastore for an application they run throughout the office. The database for this application lives on the server and I take nightly backups of the database. They are pretty covered in case something does happen. The only thing I really wish they had was a drive cage with extra drives that would be mounted automatically by their 3ware controller. But if anything happened hardware wise to their server or the raid controller, it would be difficult for me to get to their location quickly and fix it. I could move their database to another server that isn't raid controlled for a temporary basis so they can continue working, but I would need to physically be there to look at what happened to their main server

So I've been thinking of running their server at one of the owners houses that is more near to me. I'm wondering what I would need to set this up, and also if anyone thinks this would be a good idea.

I'm using Untangle (Untangle.com) as the office's router. Untangle has the ability to setup a dedicated VPN connection between sites. If both locations had a business internet connection, could I setup their main server at the house and have their office connect to that server? I'm worried about downtime or power failures that might cause disruption.

Anyway, I've babbled enough...what are your thoughts on this.

Thanks!

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All Answers

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Bandwidth...

by LarryD4 In reply to Thoughts on connecting a ...

What you want to do is possible, but you need to know what the application bandwidth usage is.

You would also need to evaluate the response from the server to the clients for all aspects of their needs, including authentication and file storage.

My guess, rigth off the bat, is you would need a 100 megabit connection between the office and your bosses house.

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User the Performance Monitor

by LarryD4 In reply to Bandwidth...

Crank up the servers performance monitor and monitor your bandwidth to see just how much it uses. That will give you a better idea of your needs for the connection.

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Cluster....

by ---TK--- In reply to Thoughts on connecting a ...

you could slap the database on a SAN or NAS, and set up a cluster for fail over. Also you could invest in a ILO or RAC so you could remote in and bounce the box, or use the console to attempt to bring up the box... the only way you would be screwed is if was a hardware failure...

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Clustering is a very good idea...

by greavette In reply to Cluster....

Hello,

I really appreciate the ideas you've all given. I'm a little worried about the the connection between the office and the owner's house. Any kind of network disruption would mean many calls to me. I'll speak to their internet provider and I will use the monitor to see how much traffic is being sent.

I really like the idea of a cluster for SQL Server 2005. I really know nothing about setting up a cluster, but from what I've read quickly in the past few minutes, it would see they don't need a second license as long as it is only used for failover and not an active database (although I would have to keep this failover database as up to date as possible, so wouldn't that make it a live database if I kept replicating data across both databases?).

Thanks!

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um....

by ---TK--- In reply to Clustering is a very good ...

If it was a cluster, its like two servers acting as one. When Server1 fails it sends a heartbeat to Server2 and server2 says ok, im up and running and uses the same IP address as Server1.... So for the database you have two options, put it on a nas or san or external source, or keep it on the servers... If they are on the servers they should replicated data on their own....

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Clustering vs Mirroring

by greavette In reply to um....

Thank you...this discussion has brought forth lots of options for me to investigate.

I've been googling about clustering and have also discovered mirroring. I'm going to research some more on this, but maybe you can point out our best option.

We have one copy of Windows 2003 Standard edition, extra copies of Windows XP Pro and one license of Sql Server 2005 Standard. I know we have to buy more of something (either the O/S or the SQL Server), but with our above resources, what is the best option at keeping costs down and still having a backup database available if needed. My company is not against spending money, but we are a very small business and in these tough times, I would like to see if we can save some money and at the same time adequately protect the data.

Thanks!

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mirror....

by ---TK--- In reply to Clustering vs Mirroring

is basically for load balancing... the two are close... but if one goes down the other should be powerful enough to handle the load...

I would probably Mirror them incorporate load balancing, you will see a performance spike, till one goes down... but it will still crank it out...
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/sql/2005/dbmirror.mspx
and
http://tinyurl.com/5aekjb

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another thought....

by ---TK--- In reply to Clustering vs Mirroring

Here is a link for a 30 day evaluation... I would implement it on two test boxes trial 1 mirror trial 2 cluster... see what fits you best... its a trial so its free.... test it out and find what fits you best then purchase what you need...

http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2005/en/us/trial-software.aspx

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Thank You!

by greavette In reply to another thought....

Hello,

Thank you for the great information you've given me! I will read over the links given. i will most likely have more questions, but for now this question has been answered.

Running my server offsite does have it's advantages with regards to my being able to service the server...but I feel there are too many network problems that could occur. We are a very small shop so we are not going to put a lot of infrastructure in place to ensure the pipe between the owners house and his office is always up.

I will look at mirroring our SQL databases so in the event a server hardware fails, we can still keep our business up and running on the mirror database which will give me time to schedule a trip to the office.

Thanks again for all your help and advice!

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