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I dont know if this is the right place to ask the question.

A friend of mine assigned me to create a web application for the company(warehouse) he works in order clients place orders etc.

The software is a COBOL program over 25 years old running on a 15 years old computer.

Because the computer has single disk and has a strange type of disk he takes backups at tape. There are about 400 cobol programs. However the computer now is ok.

But cause of the single disk and that the computer is old he wants to upgrade it. The 10 people who use the programs in the company connect via terminal from windows to the AIX server with cobol programs.

The computer still works great after 15 years with no problem!

The question after this long introduction is:... He want to buy a computer with high integrity that wont cause a damage..

However i am wondering if we should buy something like this: http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/x/hardware/tower/x3200m3/index.html

not because that the software is demanding( a 133 celeron would do the job i believe!) but because it has high quality parts..

I believe that it is extravagant to buy such a computer but i dont know if a custom rig with high quality parts (those that i can find) would be better.

Also we need a second pc for the webserver.. The uplink is 2mbps enough for the simple web interface and few concurrent clients i believe!

So to sum up...

What specifications are recommended? Also is it better to use a seperate pc for webserver and "cobol server" ?

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Linux cause it is free :) we are converting the cobol code for opencobol compiler as he doesnt want to use a modern language –  Parhs Nov 25 '10 at 1:41
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are you looking to run AIX on the new server? Or are you happy to convert to the "modern" OS? –  Mark Henderson Nov 25 '10 at 1:42
    
I havent thought of this so stupid! However i dont know how much AIX costs and if it would be compatible with the older version.. –  Parhs Nov 25 '10 at 1:48
    
AIX is pretty cheap - from $150 -> $2000 depending on your processor achitecture and feature set. –  Mark Henderson Nov 25 '10 at 2:02
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you want something with "high quality parts", then pretty much any off-the-shelf server-class computer will do.

If you want something with real redundancy, then you might want to buy two servers and some shared storage, and run the OS's inside a virtual machine. This way if one server goes down, you can boot up the exact same OS on the 2nd server and continue working. If you pay mega bucks you can even get fault tolerance so that if a server fails, it's as if nothing happened at all.

All that said though, a basic COBOL server and a basic Web server I would not bother with two seperate servers, but I would definately investigate your virtualisation options (for single-server deployments most are free) to see if they suit your needs.

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Thanks for your answer.. SO you suggest to buy a simple computer with an i3 for example and simple RAID 0 and a good PSU ?? As for virtualization does it slow down computer ? Could you suggest me some software for this job ? –  Parhs Nov 25 '10 at 1:58
    
RAID0?!?!?!?! Helll NO, never, ever run RAID0 in production. Or at all. RAID1 is what you want. Redundant power supplies never hurt either. On a modern server, virtualisation is almost the same as running natively. There is a memory overhead (you can lose from 1-2gb depending on your hypervisor), but very little CPU as CPUs are designed with virtualisation in mind these days. I strongly suggest VMWare ESXi - it can get very expensive once you start adding features, but single-server version is free. –  Mark Henderson Nov 25 '10 at 2:00
    
Yes i mean RAID1 local time is 4am :) What should we do apart RAID1 to keep data safe? i will check VMWare .Also is it bad idea not to use virtual stuff and have them on single operating system? –  Parhs Nov 25 '10 at 2:07
    
@Parhs - if you combine them into one OS, then I would not bother with virtualisation. One big advantage of keeping them seperate is that you can take the webserver offline (for upgrades, whatever) without affecting the COBOL system, and vice versa. You can also then put a lot of other stuff on the server if you want to in the future. –  Mark Henderson Nov 25 '10 at 2:19
    
Apart from RAID1, you need to make sure you make regular backups. There's a lot of things you can do depending on the level of redundancy you require. You could go for a VM Fault Tolerant cluster, a disaster recovery system with live replicated disks, regular tape backups, off-site "cloud" backups, there's a lot of things. –  Mark Henderson Nov 25 '10 at 2:20
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Raid 10 is a better friend than Raid 1 or raid 0 (basically it is a combination of both. Stick rather RUN away from Raid 5

There are a number of options - from using a SAN to just getting 2 decent servers and running raid 1 on both with DRDB (linbit.com)

DRBD® refers to block devices designed as a building block to form high availability (HA) clusters. This is done by mirroring a whole block device via an assigned network. DRBD can be understood as network based raid-1. Best of all DRDB is OPEN-SOURCE DRDB is Network Raid 1

For the ultimate in high availability you could combine with HeartBeat and have one system come online when the other fails.

Always make sure to complete backups - AND send them offsite. Simple Rsync can help you here as well - if stuck and want a few scripts to help let the community know.

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Electronics will fail and I think there's a definite ceiling to how much you can pay for the reasonable assurance that they won't immediatly. Beyond that ceiling your essentially throwing money away for a false promise.

I think the best plan going forward revolves around putting in a good hardware lifecycle program and including appropriate hardware support contracts on any server you place into production.

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