You can get a powerful server for less than $3,000. Look at a Dell
poweredge 2600. I just priced a dual 2.4 Ghz Xeon system with 1 GB
memory and 2 36 GB hard disks for $2644. This is for a non RAID system
with a lower level 3 year, next day service contract. The Dell servers
we use have been incredibly reliable. If you have limited resources, I
would recommend saving money and getting a non RAID system with lower
level service contract. In the unlikely event you need service, next
day service is fine. Obviously, if you can spend more than $3,000 you
can get a more powerful, more reliable and more expandable system but
for WeBWorK the above system is more than adequate. The one thing I
would not skimp on is a second processor.
This should very easily serve a thousand or more students. It's more
powerful than our current server at Rochester which is a dual processor
Xeon. You can look at http://webhost.math.rochester.edu/webworkdocs/sites/systems/ but much of that info is several years out of date.
I'll repeat that the one thing I would definitely recommend is that you get a dual processor system.
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