As a rule of thumb, one machine can do it all for less than 50 users.
Now certainly there are many, many variables here. The size of the machine, if the machine is doing other tasks as well, how the clients are using the system, etc.
If after time you see that one machine can't keep up, there are several tools that you can use to split the tasks to other machines after you get started - you wouldn't be stuck with a one machine setup forever.
We currently have a dedicated machine on a dedicated network, holding all of our files. The only other task it is performing is network license management. We have a core group of a dozen or so users who would be interacting with the PDM system throughout the day. The other SW licenses are used less frequently. We do have a separate machine available that could host the web stuff, so I think we will combine the archive and database for the time being.
Good to hear that we can move things around later on if necessary.
As Jeff points out there are many variables to consider when choosing your platform.
We started with a 32bit XP workstation hosting the database and archive functions with 10 concurrent users. XP isn't a recommended configuration but we used it for about a year. I nervously watched the RAM usage over time as it appeared to be the weakest part of the arrangement.
When our budget situation allowed us to replace the XP workstation I chose a 64bit server for the database just to be able to increase the RAM if need be. We split the archive function out to a different server 32bit a with lots of fast disc. The latter may have been overkill for our situation but I just hate find things out the hard way.
You didn't indicate how many concurrent users you expect but you certainly have a lot of licenses. Whatever platform you choose I'd suggest considering 64bit because of the potential RAM limits. Just a risk adverse opinion.
Thanks for the spreadsheet. Very helpful for finding out which aspects cause the RAM and DISK size to spike. The specs on our current file server are as follows:
2GHz Xeon processor
4 GB RAM
~ 1TB storage (3 disks)
32 bit Windows server 2003
The 32 bit OS and only 4GB of memory concern me, especially if we have the machine acting as archive and database server. If we add a second machine, where is the most bank for the buck? Processor speed? Disk speed? RAM? Whcih server should get the 'better' specs? Database or archive?
In my opinion, I would have two separate machines, one for the Archive Server and one for the SQL database server. That should increase bandwidth. If not two separate machines, then at least separate hard drives, so both can spin at the same time.
64Bit is the way to go. You can't have too much RAM and you can't have too much CPU speed, get the most you can afford.
Good luck, Jim. Going to SolidWorks World?
Let's look at each of the components separately and consider their hardware requirements.
1) Microsoft SQL Server - This is the foundation of the Enterprise PDM software. SQL Server database contains all the system and administrative settings. This component even stores the X and Y location of the workflow states, for example. Microsoft SQL Server is a "MEMORY HOG". In other words, the software is designed to try and load the entire database into memory for very fast response times. Ideally, you want SQL Server separate from the other systems to prevent/limit memory sharing. For example, you don't want to share memory usage with the archive server. In the perfect world, you would have multiple SQL Server boxes for redundancy. If one should go down, then the other box will pick up almost instantly where the last server stopped. This is known as database mirroring and was a new feature added in SQL Server 2005.
What about hard drive space? You might ask this. Well, the data stored in the database is essentially ASCII text data and is VERY lightweight; therefore, you don't need a whole lot of disk space. This is really dependant on the number of files and the amount of metadata (card data) you are going to store for each file. For example, we have a customer that has 130 gigs of archive data but maybe only about a gig or two of space for the SQL Server data and this includes the log file.
2) Archive Server - This piece of the architecture stores the physical files (documents) themselves. Hence, pending on the amount of files you plan to maintain will dictate disk size. Furthermore, if you plan to store more CAD (specifically 3D) then plan on a HUGE hard drive. On the other hand, you will need minimal RAM for file retrieval, communication with SQL Server, and limited application requirements.
3) Web Server - This is the component that delivers webpages to the user for Contributor Web and comunicates with the archive server. SolidWorks uses ASP technology for web transactions. This requires a fast processor and a kernel that manages threads efficiently. In other words, DON'T USE Windows XP Home edition or Windows 98. Ideally, you should use Windows Server 2003 or better or XP Professional (not recommended by SolidWorks but will work for very low traffic).
By the way, think of a thread like a very fine wire where processing and communication takes place. Your processor will handle multiple processes at the same time and your kernel (OS) will manage those processes. For example, when you open Outlook and Excel and Word and Media Player at the same time. You'll notice you still get your emails regardless of the fact that your are simultaneously creating a spreadsheet. Furthermore, you also won't miss a beat while listening to your favorite MP3.
As a suggestion, you could combine the Web Server and Archive Server on the same box pending on your hardware, but I would put the SQL Server on a separate box.
Happy Document Manangement!
Application Engineer (PDM and API Specialist)