We asked for a quote to upgrade our server for our small business. The server runs QuickBooks, our inventory tracking program, 12 people’s outlook emails and basic document storage.

  1. Do these components make sense together and sound functional?
  2. Do the costs seem inline?
  3. Does this clearly violate any best practices for small businesses?

Intel Server System P4308 with VmWare ESXi free edition, dual Intel Xeon 2609 Processors, 32GB RAM, Dual RAID 1 (4 x600GB enterprise grade 15K SAS hard drives), Dual power supplies, DVD drive, keyboard, mouse. 2 year warranty - all parts and labor. 1 $4950.00

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Server License 1 $840.00

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 User CALs (Client Access Licenses) 10 $1050.00

GFI MailEssentials AntiSpam/AntiVirus– Annual subscription, 10 mailboxes 1 $320.00

Windows 2012 Server Standard, Full version with 5 user CALs 2 $2418.00

Windows 2012 Remote Desktop License 5 $700.00

UPS – Server, APC Smart-UPS SMT2200, 45 – 60 min. runtime (includes extra shipping) 1 $940.00

APC UPS network monitor card 1 $295.00

Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Business, Key only, download, no disk). Need 1 license per computer. 12 $2640.00

Professional Services: Server 2012 install (x2), Convert current Windows 2003 Server and domain to Server 2012 and Active Directory 2012, Move AD functions from old server to new (Domain controller, FSMO roles, DHCP, DNS). Move Quickbooks, cWhere, company data/docs, email, printers. 60 5700.00

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closed as off-topic by HBruijn, Massimo, masegaloeh, Ward, Andrew B Nov 12 '14 at 3:33

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  • As others have mentioned the hours seems high (though the Inventory software is a notable unknown, the rest is relatively quick). At the same time their rates are cheap. This concerns me slightly that they might not have the relevant expertise and maybe be selling themselves at a lower rate to secure the job and padding the hours to compensate for inexperience. It might also be the case that you're in an area with particularly cheap consultants. – Chris S Nov 11 '14 at 23:58

Even though this feels very off-topic for Server Fault I will make some unhelpful editorial comments:

  • You don't want a "white box" server. Period. A name brand (Dell, HP, Lenovo) will have better parts availability and support long-term. It will cost less than that monstrosity you've been quoted. When your relationship with the company who installs falls apart you'll still be stuck getting support from them, or on your own. There will be manufacturers warranties on all the parts and pieces, but you'll have a tough time getting support as an end user. That won't happen w/ Dell, HP, or Lenovo.

  • You're also relying on a (presumably) small company to have parts availability for that server two years from now. I worked for a small company who built PCs / servers in a "former life" and I've dealt with many. I've never seen any of them handle spare parts very well. A brand name provider will have parts availability next-day (or sooner). Good luck getting that from a small company.

  • Unless you plan on scrapping that server in two years you really want a longer warranty. I advise my Customers to warrant hardware for the duration of the expected lifetime. If you're going to scrap it in two years get a two year warranty. If not, get a longer one.

  • You want Microsoft Open Licensing for Business for all your Microsoft software. It entitles you to move that software to new machines later on, and will get you more favorable pricing.

  • That Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard w/ 5 CALs is more expensive than I'd like, personally. I'm unclear on why they're selling you two copies. Presumably they plan to run three (3) or more virtual instances of the OS. Seems like overkill.

  • I'd argue that you should be using Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, which will support your user count just fine and will be much less expensive. The "Essentials" version of Windows Server 2012 R2 is full-blown Windows Server. There are some limitations in the product, to be sure, but it's not anywhere near as "oddball" as older Small Business Server versions of Windows were. (The "Essentials" functionality is an add-on feature for Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard-- it's just part of the product.)

  • All the Microsoft software is overpriced, some more than others.

The proposed services don't seem unreasonable, but I'd argue that their hours number is probably a little high. I don't know the ins-and-outs of your environment so I can't really say for certain.

I'd be using Hyper-V, rather than VMware, personally. There's nothing different about the licensing necessary to use Hyper-V. If you're going to go with VMware get the licensed version-- it makes more sense than trying to scrape by with the limitations of the free version.

I see no provision for backup. That's scary.


Sure, the pricing is only okay. The professional services seem inline with what I'd charge. The licenses are about 15% higher than they should/could be. There's some margin. The server itself is a little rough, though.

I'm wary of anyone who assembles a server in 2014 versus buying a prebuilt model (with a manufacturer warranty, firmware support, hardware integration, out-of-band management, etc.)

You seem to be in the US, so I'd go with:

  • A Dell PowerEdge or HP ProLiant SmartBuy in a rackmount configuration. They can be at or below the price of what you're buying, depending on model. (Example server. Add disks and RAM).

  • The sweet spot for enterprise disks is 900GB 10k 2.5" drives, versus 600GB 15k in a 3.5" form factor. The 3.5" form factor is dead for servers, unless you need high capacity (2TB+ disks).

  • CPU-wise, you'd want an E5-2620 or better. The E5-2609 is at the bottom of the product line and is missing useful features like power management and Hyperthreading.

  • Insist on a paid version of VMware ESXi. The VMware Essentials package is ~$600 and would cover you if you plan to add another server or two. It also opens up the API to allow the use of 3rd party backup software like Veeam.

  • If you're using all Windows systems, would Hyper-V make more sense as a virtualization option (versus VMware)? There may be some licensing benefits of doing so as well.

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