In my last column, I began to reveal the implementation plan of Hawaii Instrumentation and Controls (HIC) for BackOffice Server 2000. I discussed licensing and pricing issues and HIC’s current operating platforms. This week, let’s delve into HIC’s server configuration and the overall feasibility of the company’s plan. I’ll also provide some resources that are available to other organizations ready to take the plunge.

Pick a Server, Any Server
Bob Weaver, a consultant for HIC, began the company’s migration to BackOffice Server 2000 by installing a dual-processor rackmount server with RAID drives to handle logon duties, Exchange 2000 Server messaging and collaboration, and a low-volume FTP support site. Microsoft's minimum hardware requirements for a single-server BackOffice Server 2000 installation are a Pentium II 300MHz or higher with 256MB of RAM and more than 4GB of hard-disk storage, if you want to keep user data on the server, less if you don't. (4GB is a realistic minimum for anything these days. More than 4GB allows space for data files, archived programs, and other files.) As usual, these minimum requirements barely support BackOffice Server 2000 on a server and provide dismal performance.

Weaver recognized the performance requirements of HIC’s server and considered using 133MHz front-side bus processors for the server. But now that Intel has released the Pentium 4 processor, he’s rethinking that decision. However, Pentium 4’s marriage with the troublesome and expensive Rambus DRAM (RDRAM) coupled with the chip’s lackluster benchmarks prevent me from recommending it. Two high-speed Pentium III processors would serve HIC just as well, with 768MB to 1GB of 133MHz ECC SDRAM backing it up. Also, memory prices are reasonably low right now, so stock up.

In addition, Weaver plans to use an Adaptec 3200S SCSI RAID card in the mirroring setup (RAID 1). (RAID is the process you use to configure multiple hard disks to look like one disk. All the disks, however, increase fault tolerance and data integrity through mirroring, striping, and other techniques.) The Adaptec card is an excellent board, and I highly recommend it.

Will It All Work?
Weaver has designed a very thorough and complete migration plan for HIC. He’s taken care of all the important issues when considering a BackOffice Server 2000 installation:

  • Number of users, and how to license them
  • Server configuration and typical usage
  • Internet connectivity and plans for hosting

I can’t see any problems with Weaver’s installation, although many of his licensing plans are contingent upon Microsoft continuing to offer the Technology Guarantee program. Check with your local Microsoft sales office or affiliate to ensure that your licensing and actual purchase plans are feasible.

Weaver asked me to confirm part numbers, but I haven’t been able to do so because Microsoft hasn’t released BackOffice Server 2000 to manufacturing yet. Typically, Microsoft includes the SKU numbers with the product release announcement, which the company will almost certainly tout on its home page.

Going Further
You might want to explore some of the solutions presented in this column, especially when it comes to licensing and purchase plans. You can find information on the Microsoft Open License Program (MOLP) at Microsoft's licensing Web site. Microsoft BackOffice Server 2000 information is available at Microsoft's BackOffice Server Web site. Information on the Intel Pentium III and 4 processors is available at Intel's Pentium III Web site and Pentium 4 Web site, respectively. The Adaptec RAID card details are at Adaptec's Web site, and you can find a general hardware selection guide, which my colleague Robert Bruce Thompson maintains, at the Hardware Guys Web site.

Finally, let me wish you all a safe and happy New Year celebration and the best for the year 2001. Happy holidays!