Im am fairly new in here and still learning alot about computers. I am a VP for a small company and more and more I find myself handling our computer problems. Im an intemidiate in computer problem solving so far. Recently I had a Sony Vaio motherboard go out on a workstation in our coporate office, which has about 7 workstations and 1 server. Our server is a regular Dell Optiplex GX270 with pent 4 3.2ghz and 1gb ram. I am going to get rid of the Sony (it has been nothing but problems since we bought it) and give the Dell as the workstation and purchase a new "Server". My question is what is the major difference between a "server" and a regular cpu? I figure it will run me about $400 to fix the Vaio and I will continue to have problems, and our "server" now maybe a little too small or maybe not, What do yall think? But I have been looking at "servers" on the net and most have no Operation Systems (???), two processors, and other things that regular cpu's don't need or have, I don't know why. I just want to be educated before a spend $2000-$3000 on a small business server. Thanks for the help in advance!
Well, server hardware is specifically tuned for performance and for being left on for months at a stretch. Also, since the server will be servicing a number of clients, a server's CPU is tuned for multi connections and load balancing. Basically, a server's CPU is more 'equipped' to handle huge loads. Also, a server's RAM is ECC RAM so that any error (if any, that is) can be corrected on the fly without bringing it down.
Depending on your needs, you can go for Opteron, Xeon, or any other CPUs available.
goldeagle2005 pretty much summed up what makes a server different than a client system. If money is an issue, you can use a regular computer as a server. I've seen it done with good results. That said, if you can get a server-class system, do so.
As far as an OS goes, if you go with Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition should fit your needs well. You don't have to learn about Active Directory, Group Policy, and DNS to set it up. But, from a manageability and security standpoint, it's great and you can always configure it later on if you don't do it initially.
I would ask you this:
Do you really need to spend $2000-$3000 on a server? You can get a server for about the price of a really nice desktop.
You can choose any place that you want, but right now Dell is offering a PowerEdge 2800 with SCSI hard drive, dual Xeon processors, and Server 2003 R2 for right at $2400 before tax and shipping . If you wanted to throw Linux on that, you could save almost $900 right there, and download your favorite Linux distribution for the server. For even cheaper, there's the SC series of servers, which are pretty reliable, but aren't as fault-tolerant (ie, redundancy, RAID, etc) as the other servers.
I'm just mentioning Dell because I know their hardware the most. You can check out other places, like Gateway, IBM, or Sun, too-- they should all have decent prices on lower-end servers that are great starters.