by January 4, 2011 0 comments

GServers have become a commodity item in datacenters today. However, organizations need to becautious of several factors while choosing a serverthat best fulfills their requirements. Here we guide throughthe process of choosing one for your business.

Form Factor

The decision to buy a server starts by deciding the type ofserver you may want. Servers come in all shapes and sizes,but the choice of form factors is one of the most difficultones. Type of server choice may depend upon your legacyhardware or the data center that you have.

Tower server: The most basic form of servers which look alot like workstation-class PCs. Tower servers are designedto sit on a desk or on the floor just like Desktop CPUs.Tower servers are the most likely entry-level server for themajority of small businesses as they are very competent de-vices at good price points but lack expansion options.

Rack-mounted server: Rack mounted servers are more hor-izontal in design i.e. their horizontal width is much more incomparison to their heights. These servers can be placedin pre-designed rack on top of the other with adequate spac-ing in between them for appropriate cooling requirements.Server racks come with varying levels of adaptability andaccessories (shelves, vertical rails, fans, power strips, etc.),so you’ll want to make sure that the server rack is customiz-able for your needs. The limited ability of rack-mountedservers to take on new drives and memory make them bet-ter suited to larger businesses that know exactly what theserver will be doing and will tailor it to that need.

Blade servers: These servers are essentially thin server in-stances slotted into a dedicated chassis which also does alot of work like mediating input and output between theblades it houses and the rest of the network as well as power supply and cooling. Blade enclosures are designed suchthat the blades (servers) are to be easily hot swappable.

Theupside of this arrangement is that blades make it possibleto put a lot of servers into a very small space. Blade chassiscan be as little as 4U or 5U tall, yet they can contain 10 ormore servers and therefore offer exceptional density. Bladeservers are generally for big businesses, yet small busi-nesses may also find them attractive because blades are fab-ulously expandable. Combined with the fact that the bladechassis can also hold storage and networking equipment,blades offer a small business several years of expansion op-tions. From a one-to-one comparison, the blade server chas-sis and single blade server is significantly more expensive than a single rack server. A blade server doesn’t becomecost effective until you have a significant number ofblade servers housed in the enclosure. Also, if the bladeserver chassis stops working, this will affect all theblades housed in the enclosure.

Processor and Memory

For a basic, entry-level file server, it’s more important tohave plenty of storage than it is to have more than a giga-byte’s worth of memory and the ability to add a secondprocessor. But a good single processor and a hefty mem-ory load will give your server the performance it needs toget the job done. The workload you have in mind for yourserver will govern the choice of RAM and processor. If theserver is just used for file storage, the workload is fairlylow. If however the server is also acting as a mail server,intranet server, database server, etc, it will need far morememory (RAM) and processing power. RAM is relativelycheap to acquire and easy to integrate into your system.Processor power governs the speed at which the servercan perform complex tasks like finding a specific recordin a large database.

Storage Options

SCSI is the best, although more expensive, as it is muchfaster than either IDE or SATA drives. Choose a SATA orSCSI system with built-in support for RAID, a technologythat provides varying levels of data protection. Hardware-based RAID systems are pretty expensive and may not benecessary if your organization can live with the downtime itwould take to restore your date from backups.


No matter how much hard-drive capacity you buy, you’ll in-evitably run low on hard disk space. Migrating to a newserver can be a pain, so the best solution is to buy expand-ability in your current server. Look for lots of bays and portsthat will let you add SATA or SCSI drives externally. Ex-pandability in terms hard disk needs to be accentuated withthe ability of the server to handle the expansion in terms ofits power and cooling capabilities.

Power consumption

It is always important that you buy power efficient hardwarefor your data center. This will save a lot of operational costs.You can look for a power management solution to save onpower bills. Apart from consumption, power redundancy is also one of the important things and you should look for ina server.


Another factor to consider while buying servers is virtualiza-tion. With the help of virtualization, an organization can ex-tract the work of different physical servers from multiplevirtual servers running on one physical server. This trans-lates to the fact that instead of going in for multiple physicalservers, you can invest in a single physical server with specsgood enough to run multiple virtual machines on top of it.This reduces the financial burden to a large extent. But theonly cause of concern in this case is that you would be put-ting all your eggs in one basket and any downtime on thephysical server would translate to downtime on all virtualservers as well.

Services and warranty

Check out the services and warranty provided by the ven-dor. Door step service and at least 3 years warranty is desir-able. In addition to this, many vendors provide enhancedwarranty with faster response time. Support and warrantyis something which is designed to keep most of your oper-ational hazards at bay and this is one area which must notbe compromised in terms of spending.

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