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I am at a small company with 15-20 employees. We need to replace an old server running Windows Server 2003. We need simple groupware, email server, file sharing, and an SVN server (used by only a few developers). I am going to evaluate replacing Microsoft with Linux and other software (looking at Zimbra).

I come here because I am having difficulty deciding what kind of hardware will get the job done, be reliable, and cost-effective. First, some general questions:

Does a single Xeon E5520 processor make sense? For our use would there be any reason to consider a single i7? I was thinking a single E5520 would be good, although not many people seem to run just one of those.

What are the main differences between i7 marketed motherboards and Xeon motherboards (both socket 1366)? I understand that many Xeon motherboards are dual-socket, but I don't think we really need a dual-socket solution. Are the Xeon specific motherboards mostly different in that they are able to support two sockets? I think the i7 doesn't.

So, I was thinking that perhaps a single Xeon E5520 with around 12GB of ram would be suitable. If this isn't reasonable, why would something else be a better choice?

Also, I have yet to fully analyse the current servers performance limitations. It is a single-core AMD machine, with pretty outdated hardware. We haven't wanted to do too much with it since its previous maintainer is no longer around and the whole thing generally is a mess. However, if anyone has any recommendations of how I can evaluate it that would be great.

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Have you done any performance monitoring on your current server? – mfinni May 10 '11 at 14:14
Not really, I just added a paragraph to the OP. – Mr. Shickadance May 10 '11 at 14:20
The Intel Xeon 5520 is a quad-core processor. There is no such thing as a "single core Xeon 5520." – Skyhawk May 10 '11 at 14:29
facepalm I knew that, I meant to say single socket. Most people with these CPUs (and motherboards around) are dual-socket. Sorry about that. – Mr. Shickadance May 10 '11 at 14:31
Also, is there anything wrong with a packaged solution like Small Business Server 2008? – ewwhite May 10 '11 at 14:44
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I'd recommend anything that's dual-socket capable and populate it with one or two Intel E5520/E5620 or higher-spec CPUs. The models below the 5520/5620 have fewer features available, so you don't necessarily want to go lower.

Do you plan to virtualize these solutions? If you do a single server, you may want some RAM headroom to accommodate that. Assuming you'd be looking for a tower server, I'd recommend an HP ProLiant ML350 G6 (Try researching part # 600426-005) as a starting point. That's representative of what I'd use in this situation. Add disks, RAM and a redundant power supply, and it's a good system that can scale a bit.

What's your budget?

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