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Choosing a server: Overview and key factors

This video kicks off our Server Month video series with an introductory view of 1U rackmount servers. With the broad range of 1U servers on the market, picking the right machine is often a challenging task. Knowing your organization’s needs is the first crucial step, but taking the time to learn about a server’s features and capabilities will ensure you make the most out of your investment.

Find out which five servers will be under the microscope and get an overview of the key advantages and limitations of 1U rackmount servers.

“This series is all about 1U rackmount servers. They pack a lot of computing power into a small package -- more than enough to run most business applications. And they’ll even support server virtualization, helping organizations squeeze even more value,” said Colin Steele, senior site editor.

Check out the rest of our Server Month tips and videos.

Read the full transcript from this video below:  
Choosing a server: Overview and key factors

Colin Steele : Welcome to TechTarget Server Month and our overview of major 1U rack servers. I'm Senior Site Editor Colin Steele. Servers are the foundation of every data center, but with so many options, it can be hard to choose the right one. When making this decision, you first have to consider your organization's needs. For example, do you need a server for low end tasks, like a web server or DNS, or for high end applications like databases or email? Or maybe you need to virtualize the server to host multiple applications. Once you know what the server needs to do, you can focus on choosing a specific machine. The key factors you want to consider are computing resources, conductivity, storage and management. When we talk about computing resources, we usually mean processor cores, memory, and IO. A server's processor model, memory modules and underlying motherboard will all have a huge effect on its performance.

Conductivity refers to the number of ports available and their speed, such as 1 gig Ethernet or 10 gig Ethernet. These ports let the server's workloads access network storage, handle user requests and interact with other servers in a cluster. When it comes to storage, SAN and NAS are both important data center resources, but not every server needs to access storage across a network. Many organizations prefer to rely on storage within the server itself, which typically uses SATA, SAS or even solid state hard drives. The last area to think about is how the server is monitored and configured. Pretty much every server includes tools to help admins set up and track their systems, regardless of its physical location. Most also include dedicated ports that support remote management.

There are many factors to consider and the perils of making the wrong choice are clear. Buy an undersize server, and your applications won't run well, if at all. Buy an oversized server and you're just wasting money on computing power that you might never use. Again, this series is all about 1U, rack mount servers, the bread and butter of modern computing. They pack a lot of computing power into a small package, more than enough to run most business applications. They'll even support server virtualization, so organizations can squeeze even more value out of them.

We'll be taking a look at these five 1U rack servers: the Dell PowerEdge R415, the Fujitsu PRIMERGY RX200S6, the Hewlett Packard Pro-Line DL360G7, the Silicon Graphics International C1001TY2 and the SuperMicro 026T6RFT Plus. Each of these systems can support dual processors from AMD or Intel, which means up to 12 cores with two six core processors. There's support for more than 128 gigs of RAM, multiple Ethernet ports and room for local disk storage. These servers also include management features that let admins configure and optimize the systems, both on premise and remotely. That means your data centers can run at peak performance regardless of where the servers are physically located. And the monitoring features can alert IT staff to take action before a problem becomes critical.

But 1U servers have their limits. Their size really limits their expandability and even with dual processors and ample memory, you can only fit a couple of expansion cards for things like RAID or SAN storage. Many of their advanced features use proprietary risers which can create vendor lock-in, if you're not careful. Their small form factor can also put a damper on local disk space because they fit only a handful of local drives. Data center planners need to know what they're getting into and we are here to show you. In the videos that follow, two of my Tech Target colleagues, Steve Bigelow and Carl Brooks, will take an in-depth look at each of these 1U servers and discuss their capabilities. I'm Colin Steele, thanks for watching Server Month.

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