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I've done a lot of research on RAID configurations; Wikipedia, questions here on serverfault, articles, on random websites: RAID5 vs RAID10; Build Server Capacity Planning.

From my understanding, it seems a lot of people put the OS on RAID 1 and the file system on RAID 5. I assume this is for web servers where they generally serve more content than have things written to it, which means the performance hit that comes with RAID 5 is not an issue. (If I'm mistaken here please correct me, I'm not too familiar with this however as a startup we have limited IT experts around and I am in charge of It)

The 2nd article I posted (Build Server Capacity Planning) mentions that RAID 5 is not recommended because of significantly lower write speeds. Instead they recommend RAID 1.

I would just like some recommendations for a development / build server so I know the information I'm working with is accurate based on real world experience and the advice is targeted towards that type of solution.

Recommendations for a server with the following uses would be great:

  • Development environment
    • Runs applications locally
    • Source control
  • Computer backup and management
  • General file storage and sharing

Recommendations for the same scenario but with virtualization like vmware ESXi would be really helpful as well. Edit: Virtualization used to run both a dev server and a staging server on the same machine.

Any help is greatly appreciated! Again, my apologies, I know similar questions have been asked, however it would be an expensive mistake to make so I would like to be sure before ordering a server. (As a side note I am ordering a Dell PowerEdge T610 if it makes any difference)

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Dev servers where compilation takes place tend to be very write heavy. And worse, write-heavy in heavily random I/O patterns. This is why R5 is a poor choice for dev-servers, at least with limited disk and RAID-controller resources. Get a good enough RAID card, and you'll find not terribly significant performance between 4 disks in a RAID10 and 4 disks in a RAID5 array. It depends on your I/O patterns.

If you have the space for it, and with a tower server you probably do, RAID10 is the best choice if it meets your capacity needs.

Virtualization adds a layer of abstraction to this. Running ESXi on the T610 doesn't make a lot of sense unless you're planning on running many other virtual servers on it as well. If you do go the ESXi route, spring for the PERC H700 controller with the battery-backed cache as that'll give you the most performance you can squeeze out of eight drive bays.

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Great! Very helpful, thank you. If you don't suggest running ESXi on the T610, what would you suggest? I was hoping to host both the dev server and the staging server, used to show clients their websites before publishing to production and ensuring another layer of security in publishing proper materials, within the T610 in order to avoid having to buy two servers. Suggestions? – user29600 Feb 28 '11 at 2:02
That is a different use-case. Put as much RAM in there as you can get away with, make sure you're running the top of the line RAID card and use 10K RPM disks (15K would be better). File-serving for anything under 200 users is trivial usage, so ESXi and Dev are your driving usages. – sysadmin1138 Feb 28 '11 at 2:21

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