I've been developing a large Web Application (using Apache/MySQL/PHP/AJAX) for a school and now charged with suggesting requirements for a new server that my school will be buying. This server will be in charge of hosting the only the web application (and will run Apache 2.0, PHP 5 and MySQL 4/5, haven't decided on version yet). This machine will run Windows 2003 (unfortunately, no compromise on this).
To give an idea of what the system needs to be capable of: we have about 700 students (and each student also has a single parent account), and about 200 faculty members and administrators. This system is used to manage schedules (both faculty and students) set up classes, grade students, create and track transcripts, provide online assignments, document tracking, online submittal of documents, as well as provide personal home pages to all students/parents/staff.
What would you suggest in terms of hardware? I'm thinking at the base a dual processor machine, 10 RAID (with 4-6 hard drives). However, I'm more of a software developer than a network engineer, so I would welcome suggestions.

Thank You.

Since this is essentially running as an app server, you'd want to follow some of these best practice guidelines:

CPU -- You'd probably want at least two. Four or more might be over kill, and the licensing might kill you.
Hard Drives -- If you can swing it, 2 RAID 1 for System, 3 Raid 5 or 4 Raid 10 (performance is marginally better for RAID 10 unless it's a data warehouse), 2 RAID 1 for log files and swap space. Use FAT32 for 2nd RAID 1 container.
Memory -- As much as you can afford.

I would put more money towards memory not drives. If you wanted something all-around good, just use RAID 5 across all drives.


-- Andy

Thank you for the tips. I'm not sure I understand the hd specs though. I understand the RAID 1 for my system drive (which means 2 hds)and then either a RAID 5 or a RAID 10 for the data (which means 4 or 5 hds right?) plus one more RAID 1 for the log/swap. DId I get this right?
Also, I'm thinking about asking for 4 gigs of RAM, should I upped it or is this ok?

Thanks again.

You are correct about the hard drives. If you were to do RAID 10 on the data drives, and RAID 1 on the others you would need a total of 8 drives. You could do RAID 1-5-1 with 7 drives.

I wouldn't go above 4Gb of RAM because of Windows limitations.