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We've just taken over supporting a system for a new client, and they would like to expand on the server infrastructure it uses. My expertise is more in development, I have a few ideas but I would greatly appreciate any others or helpful links. I'm not sure if I should be throwing in a few more servers, using virtualisation or what?

The system works around web services sitting on the net, used by a few thousand people who will download and upload (a few meg each way), only once or twice a day but grouping around certain times. Within the system there is a large database also various intensive utilities.

Everything is Microsoft and sitting in a datacentre.

Thanks

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Before you even consider making changes you need to benchmark what's there already. Is it meeting its needs? If not, which part is falling short? So far you've not indicated if the current system is up to the task or not.

The idea of just willy nilly throwing more hardware into the mix makes absolutely no sense unless you can demonstrate that the extra hardware is required. Right now it appears you're trying to make a decision in a vacuum. Collect the data first. Then make a decision based on that data. Server setup and administration is no place for wild guesses.

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Very good points I do feel a little like i'm in a vacuum. I believe the web services put the most pressure on the system, although this is more an exercise in future proofing than fixing a problem. –  Geoff Wray Mar 2 '10 at 12:17
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Unless you want to become a sysadmin (focused on performance-tuning), and are capable of doing so very quickly, I suggest you find one on a contract basis. A plumber can nail a few boards together and make a nice shelf, but he's not going to frame up a whole house without a lot of hands-on guidance. I'm not saying that you should hand this off entirely - but you haven't even thought to tell us how many servers there are in the environnment today. I don't think that this is something you should do on your own with message boards for help -especially since this is for a client. –  mfinni Mar 2 '10 at 13:52
    
Of course if that plumber did frame the whole house, would you want to live in it? –  John Gardeniers Mar 2 '10 at 20:42

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