I picked up a new Dell R410 2.8 Ghz 12M cache 32 GB Ram RAID-1/RAID-1 for a good year-end deal. It was purchased mainly to replace my Dell PowerEdge 2850 which is my main WEB server. I run Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard across the board (several servers in my rack) and that's what I got with this new server. I'm happy with my R410 I got about two years ago, also 2.8 Ghz and 32 GB Ram which I use for SQL 2008 R2 Standard Edition tied to an iSCSI SAN (Dell MD3000i).

The new R410 is racked and I'm surprised to see it has 12 cores! Wow! Single proc, just like my other R410 due to the cost of per proc licensing of SQL. As I said I was going to use this server as my main web server which will have a lot of activity including WCF services for cloud functionality (data, sync, backups, etc.).

I'm always geared towards putting the best server as the SQL Server. I've been amazed at the speed of my R410 driving SQL but I'm wondering if SQL would better use the 12 cores as it only has 4, obviously an older proc from a year ago. Then again I'm thinking, if I have IIS working hard managing a lot of connections via web and WCF, would it better utitilize the 12 cores?

My web site does drive e-commerce but I'm a small biz. Should I put the new R410 as planned as the main WWW server or should I shuffle it around, make it the new SQL box and make the prior R410 that's a year old the new WWW box? Again, storage and disk I/O is via the iSCSI SAN for storage.

What would you do? Is it a clear decision or not? Part of me thinks just wait a year, get a new R410 in a year and make it the new SQL box as the business and services continue to grow. We have a major new product offering coming out this fall hence our build up. We have older 1750's, 1850's, and 2850's also in the rack for web load.

Thank you for your opinion as we're ready to put the new server to use early next week.

closed as not constructive by joeqwerty, voretaq7, gWaldo, Jim B, MDMarra Jan 19 '12 at 13:43

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  • 1
    Are you bumping up against the current machines' limits? Long periods of disk I/O because of slow drives/controllers? Lots of swapping (or not enough RAM to keep a decent disk cache)? CPUs/RAM constantly pegged with processes waiting for their turn in line? If yes: Upgrade. If no: Consult your capacity metrics to determine if you should upgrade and preempt a problem. If you have no capacity metrics: You need to start gathering them :) – voretaq7 Jan 13 '12 at 22:10
  • Everything is running great as is. Just curious which use would take advantage of cores. Who knows if SQL 2008 R2 STD is even coded to handle 12 cores so it could end up being a waste. Whereas I can write .NET web applications that do take advantage of parallel processing and threading to use those cores. – Neal Jan 14 '12 at 0:31
  • until you have some metrics you have no idea if everything is running great – Jim B Jan 15 '12 at 1:00

Do you not virtualize? I only ask becasue there you might be better off using this system for a hypervisor. It would give you the ability to do both if you wanted.

With that being said, Jim is spot on and everyone should tackle every server build with this data. This would of course also tell you if your SQL/Web would be a good candidate for virtualazation. I know my shop is 99% virtualized, and never looking back.

Edit 1:

In some cases, mostly with IIS, you might actually be able to get better performance by virtualizing. This enables you to fully utilize all cores by scaling out instead of up. Unless you're tweaking IIS, to my knowlege it's unlikely that 1 site will use that many cores. Virtualaztion has a heck of a lot more benifits than server consolidation. IMO, even small shops benifit from virtualazaiton. Even if you don't go with VMware, Hyper-V (which is free with 2008) would be great.

With that being said, its clear that you don't feel a need to virualize. I would take Jim's comments to heart, but if I had to guess, it's more likely that SQL could take advantage of all those cores then a default IIS configuration. Thus I would reccomend SQL get the new HW.

  • No, we don't use VM's, we have plenty of rack space and servers are cheap, we'd rather dedicate full servers to the task such as SQL, Web, etc. Ultimately my question boils down to which use would better use all these cores, IIS 7.5 or SQL SVR 2008 R2? Thank you. – Neal Jan 14 '12 at 14:06
  • Even virtualizing can't be decided on until you know how many resources you'll need – Jim B Jan 15 '12 at 0:57
  • in base "who can use the resources" competition IIS is far more suited to intense CPU load than SQL server. you usua;y see more folks with heavy load using sql but when you have heavy traffic websites, yhou usually need farms of servers until sql becomes a bottleneck. – Jim B Jan 15 '12 at 0:59
  • @Jim I think all of this still boils down to your first comment. However, most people don't make the investment to determine what their actual needs are. I would say this is yet another strength to virtualazation (namely VMware) in that you can start small and increase (or decrease) resources rapidly. So even in your statement about needing to know your resources, it's true, but if a server is virtualized, its not as painful to change your HW config – Eric C. Singer Jan 15 '12 at 2:32
  • Secondly, I would also state for the SQL comment, it depends (which it always does ). I was simply stating SQL from a physical perspective probably scales up better than a single IIS box. IMO, with IIS you're far better scaling out. Additionally, in a consolidated environment, SQL can tend to work harder. Meaning multiple apps, pointing to one SQL server. – Eric C. Singer Jan 15 '12 at 2:40

What makes you think that somehow making the SQL server the "best" box is the way to improve performance? You should have some metrics to determine X capacity with Y load requires N Ghz of CPU, S number of IOPS , and R ram in gigabytes. Granted abysmal coding can often be compensated for by buying beefier boxes, but the same concept applies. Keep buying servers without a capacity plan like that and your small biz will be selling your servers to referb. vultures sooner than you think.

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