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You will never be able to achieve the same performance across your network as you do locally. It might be close enough to be acceptable but it will never be as fast. As for your new server, it sounds like a very good step up for a file server. But keep in mind if your network switch/router is only 10/100 having gigabit cards at either end will not help. You're bottleneck will now be the switch/router.
As for people pulling the same files and working on them, you need to have some process in place that would stop that. Obviously PDM would be the ideal solution but as far as alternatives go there are numerous ones. This particular topic has been covered several times on Eng-Tips.com. You might want to pop on over there and do a search for some answers. In the end you'll have to come up with something that work for you and your users.