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I just received my new SQL Server from Dell. The server will be serve approximately 15 OLTP databases which average 10GB in size.

Here are the basic specs:

Dell PowerEdge R510 with up to 12 Hot Swap HDDs,LED
Intel Xeon E5649 2.53GHz, 12M Cache, 5.86 GT/s QPI, 6 core (Quantity of 2)
48GB Memory (6x8GB), 1333MHz Dual Ranked RDIMMs for 2 Processors, Optimized
PERC H700 Integrated RAID Controller, 1GB NV Cache
300GB 15K RPM SA SCSI 6Gbps 3.5in Hotplug Hard Drive (Quantity of 4)
600GB 15K RPM SA SCSI 6Gbps 3.5in Hotplug Hard Drive (Quantity of 6)

My first thought was to use 3 arrays.

OS - Raid 1 - (2)300GB
T-Log - Raid 1 (2)300GB
DB - Raid 5 (5) 600GB
Backup - (1) 600GB - non-raided.

However, I could also do the following after purchasing one more drive for backup.
OS and T-Log - Raid 10 - (4)300GB
DB - Raid 10 (6)600GB

The hard drive space is not an issue as the databases are not that large. I'm just trying to optimize the speed of the applications using these databases.

So, what would you guys recommend?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

It Depends :-)

I have some questions to help you think about the right answer for this setup but can't really give the right answer yet since there are variables and no one right answer here.

1.) Will you be off-siting your backups? How and how quickly after taking them? Scary to have backups on a non-redundant set of disks for any serious length of time that you will be relying on them for. Doing log backups? How frequently? How frequently will those go off server?

2.) What kind of applications are these? How much activity are they going to see? Yes the DBs are small but are they going to be doing a lot of inserts/reads throughout the day?

3.) What kind of tempdb activity are you expecting? Hosting 10 DBs on the server tells me there could be some common tempdb activity happening across operations in each of these application databases. You may consider a separate mirror or RAID 10 for tempdb.

I like the look of the first setup better than the second without much answered. Can you purchase an additional drive in that first setup for mirroring your backups?

You also should ask yourself where tempdb would go. While I wouldn't recommend using your OS drive for it, that is a -potential- option if constrained by hardware. You might even have a look at less drives for your data files mirrored to start and a separate RAID group for tempdb.

There are definitely a lot of variables but answering those questions above and going with the thought process around the first setup should get you heading in a right direction.

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Thanks for your response Mike. The Backups would be copied nightly from the backup drive and copied to tape. They go off-site every day. I don't know how much tempdb activity will occur as I am combining databases from several different remote sites for this server. Thanks for your suggestions, I'll look into it. – DavidStein Mar 11 '11 at 19:52

Mike has a good set of questions, and I'd be asking similar ones. From your #1 setup, it seems that you are expecting 2 space drives, correct? You definitely need spares.

If that's the case, I might run tempdb as R0, giving you some performance for that volume, and if it dies, you restart with tempdb elsewhere.

If you have 12 drives, however, I'm tempted to do this:

OS + Backups - Raid 1 : (2) 300GB T-Log - Raid 1 (2)300GB Data + tempdb - Raid 10 (6) 600GB 1-2 spares.

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