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Server Buying Guide
Aspects to consider when buying a new server
SalesPanda Editorial Content
www.salespanda.com Page 2
About this document
Technology landscape changes extremely fast with many new inventions and
inn...
www.salespanda.com Page 3
Table of Contents
1. Server Use Cases
2. Server Specification
a. Form Factor
b. CPU
c. Hard Disk...
www.salespanda.com Page 4
1. Server Use Cases:
Servers are devices used in organizations for various computational needs.
...
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ii. Rack: In rack form factor, these servers can be mounted on racks in
data centres/server room...
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iv. CISC: While X86 is also part of CISC CPU types, there are lesser
known CPUs designed as per ...
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a. IBM: IBM has x86, Power and Z (mainframe) servers. Earlier models like i-
series (AS400) serv...
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declined by 4.5 %. IT Infrastructure business is not growing at par with other areas
in IT as mo...
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QuantaQCT and Wiwynn, instead of established vendors like HP or Dell.
(QCT is owned by Quanta, a...
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Linux – Offered by Redhat, SUSE etc. for installation and support fees
UNIX – HPUX by HP, AIX b...
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outlook play a significant role in determining the brand of the new server to be
procured. The ...
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roads of this decision on whether to put on the cloud or on-premise. We shall
address all these...
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Server buying guide

  1. 1. www.salespanda.com Server Buying Guide Aspects to consider when buying a new server SalesPanda Editorial Content
  2. 2. www.salespanda.com Page 2 About this document Technology landscape changes extremely fast with many new inventions and innovations reaching the Enterprise Technology Market. SalesPanda helps technology buyers understand technology, research products, find solution providers and connect with them. SalesPanda technology editorial team releases meaningful content to assist buyers at various stages. Buying Guides explain a technology, elucidates use cases, highlights salient characteristics, identifies leading providers and helps understand what to look for in order to protect IT investments. This document might be used by individuals looking for buying a server for any of the use cases described in the document. To evaluate a server, there are some basics that need to be considered. This document covers the fundamental considerations in evaluating and procuring servers. This document will be useful to various levels of IT leadership who evaluate or influence IT decisions. This is also a good primer for non-IT business leaders understand basic concepts of technology. This document is part of a series of buyer guides developed by the editorial team of SalesPanda to assist IT and non-IT decision makers buy Enterprise Technology Solutions.
  3. 3. www.salespanda.com Page 3 Table of Contents 1. Server Use Cases 2. Server Specification a. Form Factor b. CPU c. Hard Disk d. RAM 3. Important Players 4. Market Trends 5. Pricing Guide 6. Vendor Viability 7. Infrastructure as a service
  4. 4. www.salespanda.com Page 4 1. Server Use Cases: Servers are devices used in organizations for various computational needs. Servers can be used for a variety of purposes starting from HTTP/Web, Application, Database, Security, Mail, Network Management and various others. Organizations need servers off and on for: a. New Workloads: Servers can be needed for new requirements like a new application deployment, rollout to different location, disaster recovery and various new workloads. b. Scaling up or out: Servers can be added for enhancing capacity of and existing node of servers by scaling out. For scaling up also, new bigger servers can be bought and the smaller existing server be used for some other workload. c. Server refresh: Depending on the nature of existing ones, servers need to be refreshed every 5 years or so. Sometimes even earlier. That is also a good time for a technology refresh in terms of the database, operating system and also fundamental aspects of server technologies. 2. Server Specification Elements: Servers are typically categorised by the following aspects: a. Form factor: Form factor defines the shape, size of physical attributes of the server. There are 3 form factors of a server: i. Tower: This is where the server typically stands on a floor/furniture independently. There is an individual casing of the server inside which all the elements of the server resides. Tower servers are typically not found inside data centres but are usually found in smaller organizations and in server rooms.
  5. 5. www.salespanda.com Page 5 ii. Rack: In rack form factor, these servers can be mounted on racks in data centres/server rooms. Racks are typically 19 inches wide and 42U or 23 U high. Servers are typically 1U, 2U, 4U, 8U high. 1 U is 1.75 inches. Typically, a piece of equipment being installed has a front panel height 1⁄32 inch (0.031 inches or 0.787 millimeters) less than the allotted number of Us. Thus, a 1U rack-mount server is not 1.75 inches (44.4 mm) tall, but is 1.719 inches (43.7 mm) tall. 2U would be 3.469 inches (88.1 mm) instead of 3.5 inches (88.9 mm). This gap allows a bit of room above and below an installed piece of equipment so it may be removed without binding on the adjacent equipment. iii. Blade: Blade servers are stripped down modular designed servers which can work only when put in a blade enclosure, which can hold multiple blade servers. A typical enclosure has 6,8,16 blade servers depending on the size. The enclosure provides common power, cooling, networking, various interconnects and management. Blade servers also vary between half blades and full blades by their size. A blade enclosure is fit into a Rack and its height is defined by ‘U’. A typical blade enclosure can be 10U in height. b. CPU Types: Commonly used commercially available servers come with the following types of CPU architectures: i. X86: Commonly found architecture in most entry level and also higher end servers. Common manufacturers are Intel and AMD. ii. RISC: IBM, Oracle (erstwhile SUN) have their own RISC architecture CPU-s. IBM has Power Architecture Servers and Oracle produces SPARC. iii. Itanium: Manufactured by Intel for HP, these are processors designed for high performance computers.
  6. 6. www.salespanda.com Page 6 iv. CISC: While X86 is also part of CISC CPU types, there are lesser known CPUs designed as per this architecture. IBM z-series mainframes come with Z-architecture CPU-s. CPU-s are defined by the number of cores available in the CPU. CPU-s are typically quad core to six cores. CPU of a server is also defined by the clock speed. The higher the clock speed, the more instructions a processor can process. Typically clock speeds are designated by frequency units like GHz. Sometimes CPUs are defined by MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second). Smaller servers have 1-2 CPU-s, mid range servers have 2-4 CPUs and high end servers have more number of CPUs. c. Hard disks: Servers are defined by the size and type of disks provided for native storage inside the server. Hard disks are typically SAS or SATA. SAS stands for Serial-attached SCSI. SATA Stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. SAS drives are more advanced than SATA by speed and reliability. SAS Drives come in 10K and 15 K RPM speeds. Solid State Drives are more recent technologies, but are not available extensively with low and mid-range servers. Typical hard disk sizes are 300 or 500 GB. There are typically 2, 4, 8 or more bays available. d. RAM: Servers come with the Random Access Memory (RAM) for execution of programs with associated data. Servers are characterized by the amount of RAM available. For smaller servers, RAM available is in the range of 4-8GB. In larger servers, RAM available is typically few GBs per core. 3. Important Players: In the common enterprise server market, there are the following significant players:
  7. 7. www.salespanda.com Page 7 a. IBM: IBM has x86, Power and Z (mainframe) servers. Earlier models like i- series (AS400) servers are included in the Power Systems range now. IBM offers blade centres and blade servers for both x-series (x86) and power (RISC) architectures. IBM offers some combined packages called Pure Systems like Pure Data and Pure Analytics. b. HP: HP has the x86 series by the name Proliant and the Itanium powered server range called Integrity range. Integrity servers are typically more powerful machines and also have HP Superdomes and HP Nonstop in the Integrity range of servers. HP also offers blade form factors in both range of servers especially for the small and mid-range ones. c. Oracle (SUN): SUN also has x86 range of servers and RISC servers (SPARC). SUN also offers Blade servers for both x86 and RISC servers. Oracle also offers a super cluster range of products. d. DELL: Dell provides mostly x86 servers across all form factors of tower, rack and blades. These are all sold under PowerEdge brand. e. CISCO: CISCO is now one of the leading brands of x86 servers today. They entered the server market around 2009 with its Unified Computing System, combining compute, network and virtualization resources in a single box. 4. Market Trends and recent developments: The server market is impacted heavily by the advent of cloud offerings of IAAS (Infrastructure as a service). Server buying moved from end customers to IAAS providers. With an overall increase in workloads however, the server market grew at a nominal rate of 2.1% globally in 2013 as per Gartner. However, revenues
  8. 8. www.salespanda.com Page 8 declined by 4.5 %. IT Infrastructure business is not growing at par with other areas in IT as more and more IAAS options are available from the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Softlayer (IBM) and many other players. In January 2014, Lenovo agreed to buy the x86 server business of IBM for $2.6 B. Lenovo bought IBM’s PC business in 2004. Organizations are also making better use of their servers through virtualization. The following are some key trends in the server market: a. Increasing onslaught of IAAS providers: More and more organizations are opting for different forms of cloud offerings before buying infrastructure in-house. b. Server: Virtualization software from third-party providers like VMware and also server OEMs like IBM helps virtual servers to be produced from a single physical one, and it ensures the physical resources that are available are utilized more effectively and efficiently. CPUs, Memory, Disk and all other resources can be allocated to virtual server on demand. This is most suitable when there is various workloads in the organization which peak at different points in time over a day, week, month or any other period of time. Server virtualization helps in utilizing unutilized resources kept in headroom to handle occasional peaks in workloads. Along with Server Virtualization, organizations are also using VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) and Storage Virtualization. In server virtualization, these virtual servers are also referred to as virtual machines and the environment to create and monitor VMs are called hypervisors. c. Open Compute Project: Organizations with large distributed workloads are also looking at cheap standardized servers based on the Open Compute Project (OCP) specifications, made by lesser-known manufacturers such as
  9. 9. www.salespanda.com Page 9 QuantaQCT and Wiwynn, instead of established vendors like HP or Dell. (QCT is owned by Quanta, a Taiwanese company that makes servers for Dell.) 5. Pricing Guide: The top 5 vendors are vying for the same space and hence are comparable in price. Companies have different server offerings based on various configurations and specifications. Here’s an approximate guide for price ranges in Indian Rupees. Broad Specs Range Entry Level Servers One Socket Tower 50,000 – 1,00,000 One Socket rack (1U) ~60,000 Two Socket Tower 90,000-175,000 Two Way rack (1U) 1,00,000 - 1,75,000 Two Way Rack better CPU 1,75,000 – 3,25,000 Blade Server 1,00,000 – 2,00,000 Enclosure 5,00,000-15,00,000 Mid-range Servers Typically 2-4 CPU-s (x86) 5,00,000 – 8,00,000 RISC 7,00,000 – 12,00,000 High-end servers Varies based on configuration Along with servers there are various other connectors, displays, drives etc. which might be required. One primary component required is an Operating System. Windows – commercially available with license fees + annual support
  10. 10. www.salespanda.com Page 10 Linux – Offered by Redhat, SUSE etc. for installation and support fees UNIX – HPUX by HP, AIX by IBM, Solaris by Oracle come for a price typically along with RISC servers of those makes. 6. Support and vendor viability: When deciding on a server, support ecosystem for the server also needs to be kept in mind. The following aspects of support and vendor viability are to be kept in mind: a. End of sale / End of Support: Typically, server companies announce end of sale and then end of support. The support capability tapers off towards the end. So it is not advisable to buy servers which are past their peak and would reach end of life soon. b. Support infrastructure: There should be a reliable support infrastructure from the company or its partners for any issues faced. c. R&D Spend and new technology focus: R&D spend of the product gives an idea of the commitment the company has on the future. d. Skills on OS: There should be skills available in the market for the OS of choice. Skill availability can be in-house or available in the market. e. Server Management skills: Skills are typically available in the market for commonly available servers. It is important to pick servers where server management skills can be hired in-house or can be got on hire. Servers are fundamental requirements in each IT environment. There are pros and cons of servers on the cloud and servers in-premise. Prior experience and future
  11. 11. www.salespanda.com Page 11 outlook play a significant role in determining the brand of the new server to be procured. The size of the server is determined by the workload it is expected to handle and performance output expected. For an independent, technology agnostic estimation of infrastructure required and an architectural assessment, please get in touch with SalesPanda experts for help. 7. Infrastructure as a service: Organizations are increasingly going for Infrastructure as a service. There are benefits and concerns. It is like using a taxi cab and not owning a car. One needs higher capital to own a car – that is the classic CAPEX to OPEX benefit of IAAS. The same specifications discussed earlier hold true in case of servers on the cloud – only you can take them on demand and pay as you go. Apart from these, operating system also needs to be specified on the cloud and also for on-premise ones. IAAS providers provide virtual server instances to consumers. They can also provide dedicated servers. The typical benefits of cloud servers are: a. Low start up cost b. No network infrastructure required except an internet c. Space, HVAC etc. also factored in – not required separately d. Can stop service with no/minimal notice e. Scaling up and down is easy There had been the concerns about security and privacy. I personally believe that a leading IAAS service provider will have better security and privacy that most organizations can manage to put on their own. There are companies at cross
  12. 12. www.salespanda.com Page 12 roads of this decision on whether to put on the cloud or on-premise. We shall address all these in a different buying guide. SalesPanda is a Global B2B Marketplace for everything about technology. We help you evaluate the right technology solution and connect to the right solution provider. Our endeavor is to help the technology buyers and evaluators get the requisite help at every stage of evaluation. Whether you educate yourself, preparing a business case, or buying technology, you do it all on SalesPanda. You can browse curated technology content, research products, connects to the solution provider or request a quote or product information on the platform. All this happens in a seamless integrated way. © 2014 Bizight Solutions Pvt. Ltd. All rights reserved. Call us on +91-9810288668 or write to us at consult@salespanda.com for a free architectural consultation for your enterprise infrastructure optimization.

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