Introduction

It's a technology puzzle with many pieces. Each piece changes pretty quickly, so by the time you have figured out which things work well together, you can start all over again. That is most likely the impression that someone will get when he or she tries to understand the world of servers and networking.

No problem; you buy all your pieces from the same vendor, hire a few consultants and they will do all the puzzling for you... for a price. There is a reason why profit margins in this world are still high, and it might cost you more than just money. It is also not imaginary at all that you might suffer from "vendor lock-in", no matter how many sweet stories you read about how the market is now ruled by open industry standards. There are still quite a few tricks up the vendors' sleeves to make sure you or your company becomes totally dependent and locked in.

Of course if you are reading this, it means that you are not part of the "I don't care what is under the hood, as long as it runs my software" crowd. You want to be in full control, and understand all the hardware puzzle pieces. Just like us, you are probably on a rather tight budget, and so you have to weigh every option and research the alternatives. Just letting somebody else dictate how to solve your technology problems is not an option. And last but not least, you feel that understanding the latest hardware trends is fun....

That is what this new series of articles is all about. We'll explore the latest trends in the server hardware market and critically examine then. We'll try to give an overview of what is hot and what is not for certain applications. We are well aware that we don't have the monopoly on wisdom, so feel free to send us feedback. We'll research your feedback in depth, and we'll add it to the next server guide.

This first article might be a bit light for the server veterans among you. In this article we'll introduce new server administrators and desktop people who want to know more into the server world. In the next articles we'll discuss storage possibilities, virtualization and more.

What makes a server different?
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  • schmidtl - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    Looks good. Little history of progression on the S of RAS: disk drives were the first, and the industry sees a large proliferation of RAID configurations with hot swappable drives without any system performance degradation. High end servers have redundant/hot swappable power supplies (Dell brought that en masse to Intel servers). Recently, even CPUs have become hot swappable, something that's been around for a few years on IBM's zSeries mainframes and now pSeries servers (Power5+). Reply

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