In the beginning . . .

The first server I set up was an old Dell PowerEdge 600SC. At first because I was new to all this I installed pretty much any service I could on it DHCP, DNS, IIS7, Active Directory, Email and even Ventrilo. As you can imagine the server ran very slowly but for a test environment this wasn’t an issue as long as you had a bit of patience. I then purchased a few more ex-commercial servers over the next few years when I had some spare time and money and slowly built up a bigger environment. I swapped roles from one server to another countless times usually because I had purchased another server and wanted to spread the load across them all, other times was just because I had changed my mind on how I wanted the system laid out. I got to the point of having 2 dell servers and an old IBM eServer xSeries 345 Server. The Dell PowerEdge 600SC which I mentioned earlier which only had an Intel P4 with 3.25 Gb of RAM and the other Dell server being a P3 with 1.5 Gb of RAM (really not a lot you could run on it). The IBM server however was the most power server I had with a Dual Intel Xeon processor running at 3 Ghz each and with 4 Gb of RAM. This also had 2 power supplies, 6 SCSI drives and a RAID controller to run them. This my not seem a lot compared to modern servers but off eBay for just £60 you can’t argue. However this server was loud due to the amount of fans running in it and produced a lot of heat so unfortunately didn’t get used a lot and has since just become a very heavy door stop.

I lost interest for a long while as I ran out of things to do with the servers. Having spent enough on servers and equipment I gave it a rest. But recently I have got the bug again and have been building it up yet more. Not so long ago I brought a second Dell PowerEdge 600SC server and used it to take up the role of domain controller, DNS server and as a Certification Authority for the domain. Not long after this I brought a Dell PowerEdge 830 which has a dual 64 bit processor with 4 Gb of RAM and a RAID array. There was a reason for getting a 64 bit machine and this was because I had never got the chance to install and run exchange as 2007 and 2010 are only 64 bit compatible. Previously I had just ran hMail server which works fine for just using IMAP4 and POP3 but wheres the fun in that when you can get exchange which allows you to sync mail, contacts and calenders from your smart phone and laptop. The first Dell 830 became the exchange mail box server which was fine. But then I wanted to be able to run the exchange web apps which allow you to collect your email and administer exchange through your website. However i ran a separate web server which already had the HTTP and HTTPS ports forwarded to it. Not being able to run 2 websites from 2 servers on 1 external IP i decided to buy another Dell PowerEdge 830 (i know getting crazy now) to replace the PowerEdge 600SC which was my current web server. This ran all the same services as the 600SC but allowed me to install the exchange 2010 Hub Transport and Client Access services. This allowed me to run my current web site, the exchange web app and be able to use Outlook Anywhere at the same time. I still have the old web server running as it is configured as a VPN server allowing me to connect to my network even when I’m not at home.

I also have a UPS that supports 3 of my servers and the switch that connects them together. This only lasts about 3 minutes with all this plugged into it but its rare that a power cut will last more then this. Its more for them snap outages that only last half a second but are enough to annoying reset all the servers. Lastly the only thing I haven’t mentioned is that there is a Cisco router separating my home network and my domain environment. This was partly for security but was also to stop it interfering with anyone else’s machine on the network. I’m currently studying CCNA so it was good practice to install and configure it on the side.