Another server upgrade – Part 1

There comes time, when Apple releases new OS X Server version and existing server is acting up. And that time is perfect for spring cleaning, updates and upgrades.

So this time came. Apple has OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server for quite some time now, with bunch of possible bugs and kinks worked out, with skinnier footprint and increased performance on existing hardware. Our existing server, which hosts DNS, DHCP acts as Open Directory Master and on top of that serves files via AFP and SMB, after multiple “hard resets” is not performing how it once did. It also, for some reasons, lost it’s “single sign-on” capabilities via AFP (while it’s OD Replica works just fine). And, on top of that all, time showed that having DHCP and DNS on the server that every now and then “freezes” and requires “hard reset” is not a practical idea – once server is “hung”, users cannot access network at all.

So, this long weekend comes as a great opportunity to spend some “quality time” in the server room optimizing company’s IT setup. What exactly is going to happen?

Well, that’s a really good question. First, let’s face limitations. No matter how much I would like to distribute services across multiple servers, be it for redundancy reasons for for simple spreading up purposes, the licensing play major role. See, I cannot justify spending $500 for each OS X Server license.

So my solution would be simple:

  • First, I will have Mac Mini act as Open Directory Master with DNS and DHCP running on it.
  • Then, I will have one of the Xserves we have, act as purely File Server. It will also be Open Directory Replica to make sure I utilize each 10.6 license to OD.
  • The second Xserve will act as a host of VMWare servers and therefore will have simple OS X 10.6 installation on it.
  • Two virtual servers would be residing on that second Xserve: one – our FileMaker and web registration server, as well as Open Directory Replica and second – our internal CRM and custom built FileMaker application server, all hosted on existing OS X Server v 10.5.

This way spread out will be good enough for TimeMachine backups on all crucial servers, Retrospect (hope version 7.2 is much more stable than previous versions) backup and single sign-on services.

This weekend will definitely be ‘long weekend’.

I will continue updating you with details on this project as it rolls out in just couple of days – wish me luck!

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