Server Build for Engineering Office

So a potential client is looking for a server that can handle large files. But the main requirement is speed. It’s an engineering office and they work with large Lidar files and such.

I told them that the biggest bottleneck is the network not necessarily the server. But I was wondering if anyone has worked with any engineering firms or even media firms to help them handle large files. I believe their main workflow involves opening their engineering software and then opening the large file via a CIFS/Samba share.

It really comes down to budget, but a TrueNAS all SSD with 10G connections will be very fast but may not fit their budget. We have done purpose built servers with larger spinning rust drives which will offer more storage for a lower price.

Concur with Tom on the matter of budget. Consider the number of users and the traffic they are going to create between workstation and server the application they are running the workstations. From the minimal information provided I’d look at a TrueNAS X-20 or M-40.

I’d extend @LTS_Tom and @g-aitc’s answers with considering the type of workstation connections they have/need. If it’s feasible (office/workspace layout/budget/ etc.) DAC SFP+ or fiber. I think LTT has DAC for the server to editors connection to get a 10GB link, video (especially the 8K type they do) is the closest situation I can think of. If you can give more details I’m sure we can help with options for you @hatcher, especially what you feel the actual budget is going to be.

For computer that need a 10G connection we are using these Asus XG-C00C cards

Absolutely, thanks for the additional consideration. Workstation connectivity is a concern when moving large complex CAD files or doing visualizations of simulation data. As you stated very similar to media editing and compositing. Hope we not overwhelming @hatcher. Can’t say about the Asus XG-C00C cards but Tom’s recommendations are on the money when it comes to hardware.
Let me add, it is always a good idea to have another pair of eyes review your work.

I am using that card for my editing station at my office. It works great, I am going to do a review on it soon.

Tom what’s your edit station specs?

It say “Ubuntu 18.04 bionic” but it is actually POP_OS!

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Hey hey! Everybody thanks for the great feedback :grin:

It’s been a while because I’m currently in talks with the potential client on this proposal. So far, budget is a big restraint (kinda odd since it’s a well established firm, but that’s neither here or there). And it’s so funny that @kingsolmn you mentioned LTT’s editors setup, because I just gave that example yesterday to them :joy:

As of now there still trying to pin down the exact budget for this so I’ve only given them recommendations. But we’ll see what they decide, also thanks @LTS_Tom for the 10G card recommendation, I’ll bookmark that link for future consideration.

I would assume lidar isn’t going to be heavy on I/O during editing, likely it works out of RAM for bits being touched. So some spinners + SSD cache would be “enough” for maybe 10-20 engineers, but as already pointed out in this thread - network may be the issue.

Ideally they’re working directly from the share, so they shouldn’t be pulling down the entire file (as with video editing that normally does). I would say start off with a large connection (10G>) between the switch + NAS and survey the engineers on the experience.

You might even do some early legwork, and monitor a few hard-working engineers’ throughput. Install a bandwidth meter and look at the stats.