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Desktops as Servers

 
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Henry Anderson
Occasional Visitor

Desktops as Servers

I recently took a position with a government agency that wants to redesign their network into an enterprise level infrastructure. Currently they have about 60 servers, of which 20 are desktops, including our PDC! I am being told that these were used because they were much cheaper and more quickly available. For the most part I have been successful in getting them to understand that these need to be replaced with server level hardware (i.e. Proliants) if they truly want to bring their service level up.

I am however starting to run into some issues with the smaller departments under us, because they see our quotes for servers and then they look at a Best Buy flyer and see a desktop with a more powerful CPU for about a fifth of the price. What I am asking for in this forum is if anyone can lead me to any documentation or white papers about the importance of using server hardware that I would be able present to them? I would prefer white papers relating especially to Compaq, since that is what I want them to focus on buying, but really anything would be a great help.

Thank you
5 REPLIES
JohnWRuffo
Honored Contributor
Solution

Re: Desktops as Servers

One avenue to discuss with them is hardware redundancy (i.e., Power Supplies, Fans, RAM and HDD RAID). One of the best features a server architecture will provide is redundancy to increase potential uptime.
You can show them the MTBF rates from many of the server specs you choose.
Most desktops do not have the drive bay capacity nor the power capacity to house and power a simple RAID 5, let alone a RAID 5 with a hot spare.
These documents can give you a basis to stand on for RIAD.
http://wwss1pro.compaq.com/support/reference_library/viewdocument.asp?countrycode=1000&prodid=2045|Smart+Array+5i+Controller&source=0292-0799-A.xml&dt=21&docid=5361
http://wwss1pro.compaq.com/support/reference_library/viewdocument.asp?countrycode=1000&prodid=2045|Smart+Array+5i+Controller&source=TC021003TB.xml&dt=21&docid=12362
Another hardware feature that differs from the standard desktop is that servers are not built with Soundcards or other gaming based features. This allows the system bus to relitively uncluttered. Less interruption means better processing.
Additionally, most desktops do not use Xeon processors or have the capability for multi proccessor configurations.
Another document you can stand on is the hardware compatability list (HCL) issued by the O/S developer (MS, Novell, etc.)
Hope this helps...
Enjoy!
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JohnWRuffo
Honored Contributor

Re: Desktops as Servers

Here is the Hot Plug Memory Tech Brief:
http://wwss1pro.compaq.com/support/reference_library/viewdocument.asp?countrycode=1000&prodid=5479&source=TC020905TB.xml&dt=21&docid=11063
Enjoy!
__________________________________________
Was the post useful? Click on the white KUDOS! Star.

Do you need help with your HP product?
Try this: http://www.hp.com/support/hpgt
Kurt Matthies
Valued Contributor

Re: Desktops as Servers

There are a few issues here.

First, reliability is better with server hardware. Many servers are spec'd with components having longer MTBF values. Redundant components and built-in monitoring and fail-over circuitry are common to enterprise level servers. Finally, RAID is an available option for servers, but usually not for desktops.

Secondly, capacity. Servers generally have larger capacity power supplies, and have the ability for the end user (sys admin) to add hardware. Try adding an additional power supply to a desktop. Servers can handle more disk drives, and as mentioned, RAID systems.

Performance is also an issue. Yes, you can buy a 2.6 GHz P4 machine these days for around $1000. But can the devices support SMP? When scaling a server, SMP and clustering provide many performance advantages over desktop performance.

Finally, look at the TCO. My servers run for years, literally. I've never had a desktop that has lasted as long as my name-brand server-class machines. Look at the cost of buying a new desktop every couple of years and building it to server level with hardware and software. That's something I'd rather not do too often. And what's the cost involved in having a department sit around and wait for a desktop/server to be repaired?

Of course, if this is the government, perhaps they aren't interested in costs?

If if ain't broke, don't fix it.
Henry Anderson
Occasional Visitor

Re: Desktops as Servers

Thank you both for the inputs!! RAID is currently what I have been using to get them to focus on purchasing server hardware vice desktops.
Is there a single point where I can MTBF rates? I always happen to stumble upon that, and have a hard time finding it when I need it. I am going to get more up to speed on SMP and try to find some more information on TCO...

Thanks again!
Kurt Matthies
Valued Contributor

Re: Desktops as Servers

Henry, I know of no place to get MTBF values, other than the individual device specifications, and then, because of multiple-sourcing of components, they are even difficult to find.

Perhaps the best place for these are marketing documents. But, with the disarray of the HP product family in these post-acquisition days, this info is hard to find.

(Who else feels orphaned by HP after they have dropped all Netserver products since buying Compaq?)

The Intel site is a good source of info on SMP, their Profusion technology, Hyperthreading, and all that neat server technology stuff.

If if ain't broke, don't fix it.