Advice, Thoughs on buying a server or other solution

Dear community,
Greetings from Austria. I (try) to take care of the IT infrastructure of my brothers small landscaping company. At the moment we have the following infrastructure:

Netgear LTE modem, pfsense temporarily on DIY hardware (before that Unifi USG), Unifi Switch 24, Unifi AP-AC-Pro, Unifi AP-AC-Mesh, Unifi Cloud Key Gen1, Synology DS218+ and 5x Windows 10 PCs (3 laptops, 2 workstations).

Our Synology DS218+ provides encrypted shares to the windows computers. Veeam Agents for Windows is installed on every computer and uses one of these shares as the backup target.
To my dilemma: My Brother likes to buy a new landscaping software. The supplier requests a computer running 24/7 with a Windows operating system where a Sybase database can be installed. For the data which the software produces (mainly document storage) they like to have a local storage. They are recommending against a shared storage. Nevertheless, I will test a shared storage.
But what am I asking my self is: Would it not be better to invest in a real server instead of a standalone workstation like a NUC? Server can provide everything what the Synology provides, plus decent VM performance.

Synology: SynDS218+ is not a good VM host for Windows 10. It has only 192 MB left for memory and that won’t work with Windows 10. Upgrading to 6 GB RAM is an option but on the other side a DS720+ has more cores (RAM upgrade still needed).

TrueNAS: Mini X hardware specs look good but I don’t have any experience with it and don’t know where to buy it in Europe.

Dell T40: Would be an option but no Raid and I don’t know if it is silent. The T130 which a friend bought sound like an aircraft carrier.

Intel NUC: Or am I overthinking everything and I should just buy a NUC?

Thank you

Salute to helping family out and congrats to your brother. Dell does have tower units that would suit the need you described. Now I pose the question can it run on Digital Ocean or another cloud platform.

Like @bobstertime says buy a tower or workstation, I prefer Lenovo. They’ll be quiet with decent power and capacity. Stick Proxmox on it and you can pretty much do what you want.

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Cloud platform is no option because all clients need “permanent” connection to the database and documents and we only have a 80/20 Mbit/s LTE line.

I really like the form factor of the TrueNAS Mini X systems. Small, silent and low power consumption. At the moment I can’t check what shipping would cost because the “add to cart” button doesn’t work.

But I found a german company which sells server and they offer a Microserver which looks quite the same as the TrueNAS Hardware. With this hardware I would be very flexible. TrueNAS or Proxmox or Unraid… I could install whatever I like.

You already have needs defined now all you have to do is set a budget and go from there. Sounds like you have a solid plan for a great implementation.

You are right, needs are quite narrowed:

  • Backup (external HDD or/and Offside)
  • Snapshots (ransomware)
  • Encrypted shares / data (theft)
  • Virtual machine at least one Windows
  • Silent, Small and low power consumption

I keep doubting me because I am afraid to buy the wrong stuff and then I/we wasted money. Therefore I am looking for approval which I know nobody can give me for sure. Therefore I ask a lot and maybe to often. Sorry.

BTW: Shipping would cost 250-680$ with FedEx

Your getting to the analysis paralysis zone now. Spec for growth and pull trigger. Working in datacenter for years the loudest part is boot to me, 1 have multiple Dell 1Us next to home office. But putting all your eggs on one server/host has risk as well. Make sure you factor in DR. Even on small deployment like this n+1 just my two cents recovering data is mute unless you have a place to restore to.

I think you will snooker yourself with low power !

I have a QNAP NAS with a celeron, it’s great as a file server. However as a host for VMs it sucks, sure you can run a linux vm for torrents but it sucks if you want to do real work.

With a i5 or i7 you could stick in 64GB max, run several vms but it uses more power.

I like the idea of two cheap boxes in a Proxmox cluster, then you have both backup and redundancy. You can do as I have suggested for £400 per box @ 64GB if you bought it refurbished or off ebay.

If it were me, I’d just go with a NUC. For only 5 workstations, I wouldn’t complicate things with VM’s or full blown servers. It introduces more failure points and creates more maintenance work for you. I’d also check out Synology’s Active Backup for Business to image your computers to the Synology instead of using Veeam to one of the workstations.

I’m mostly with @teal.

Whilst I love VM’s it sounds like you have a good solid setup there and scrapping it all just because you need a windows install running 24/7 sounds like overkill.

Unless you have the cash “spare” I would just get another desktop PC or a NUC, set it up for remote access and then remove the Keyboard Video and Mouse. It’s worth checking with the software vendor as well because some of them don’t support virtual systems (because they are idiots).

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Get in touch with iXsystems directly they have a European reseller.

Thx all. After long time being in analysis paralysis zone I pulled the trigger and hit KISS. I will to like @teal said. I am buying an NUC and will change Veeam Backup to Synology’s Active Backup.

Maybe a silly question. I have to create a Synology Account for the Backup. If you have two Synologys. One is at the company of my brother and the other at my parents. Would you create just the account for the company. Or do I have an advantage when I create it under my personal name and add both Synonlogy?

There’s no benefit to having them both under a single Synology account other than just being able to manage both devices in a single web portal. They can easily be disconnected/reconnected to different accounts any time if necessary.

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I would definitely create separate Synology accounts.

While it’s a tiny bit more work to logout/login again, it allows you a lot more flexibility, especially if you need to give access to your brother’s account to someone else.