Building a new SQL 2008 box

I have a lucky, and rare, chance coming my way in about a week: I will be given the opportunity to design and install the production SQL servers at work.

Here’s the fun part – I’ve never done this before, at least not on a production machine.

What best practices, secret tricks, or hare-brained schemes do you, my fellow DBAs, follow when you put together a new SQL Server installation?

This could be anything from drive configuration, something about SANs, trace flags, whatever. You name it, I’ll evaluate it and confer with other smartypants types and once the install is done, I’ll let you know how everything goes.

Oh, the hardware is going to be a dual CPU quad Xeon machine from Dell with 16GB of RAM. And we do have a SAN of some nature, but that’s a mystery box.

Edit: So, what will these machines actually do? They will serve reports off of an OLTP schema that is updated every 15 minutes through replication from our master database server. There will be two instances on each machine – one that is live and one that just sits there, doing nothing. They mirror each other, in addition to the geographic fail over that somebody else is configuring. We do some heavy batch processing in the early morning hours, but during the day the machine is largely doing reads and whatever writes that the replication brings about.

The database that holds the majority of the reporting data is about 45GB and there is approximately 25GB of metadata and summarized reports (the batch processing, naturally) in a second database.