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Need advice on hardware for sql server 2000

The system will consist of 77 sites with between 20 and 200 users per site for a total user base of 1800. All servers and databases will be in a central data center with each site connected to the data center by a T1. we may want to consider separate databases with replication to support batch vs realtime transactions. Our total server count must be less than 30, hopefully less than 20 if possible. This would include Runtime Application servers as well as SQL Servers. Anyone have any hardware configuration suggestions for running a very large very transaction oriented system?
it depends how much analysis you want to do first.
i assume there will be 2 servers clustered for the database,
what is the rational for the limit on the number of servers? or is the limit really on the space, ie, 1 rack?
if this is the case, i would recommend a blade system for the web/application servers, as this will have the highest density. for the DB servers, i suggest one of the following approaches,
1. do some load tests to try to predict the right sized system.
2. buy a 2 socket dual core system, see how the load is, to determine if you need a bigger system
3. buy a 4 socket dual core system, and hope this is good enough
4. buy a big iron system regardless of whether you need it or not. technically, #1 is the right approach, but it is not an easy thing to do.
#3 is the one shot solution for 95% of people, ie, ask for money once, deploy once. personnaly i prefer #2, as the system is relatively low cost,
does not require excessive analysis ,
and will probably work for the first year until the full user load comes on line, from which you can make a later purchase decision if a bigger box is necessary.
most important, this may indicate that even a 4 socket box is insufficient, in which case the cost of test box is relatively low compared to the finally solution some people do like this because company politics makes it easier to ask for money once.
one even told me he preferred to ask for money for a 16-socket box, even if it later turns out that a 2 or 4 may have worked. if space is limited, then storage (IO performance, not capacity!!!) may be a bigger issue. for the normal 3.5in drives, 14 disks fit in 1 3U rack. can you afford 3-4 3U racks in your space?
I suggest you consider the Proliant MSA50, which holds 10 SAS drives (2.5in) in 1U, so 30 drives will fit in 3U compared with 14 for 3.5in drives