Wednesday, September 22, 2010

HP ProLiant MicroServer

Small businesses today are becoming more and more technologically based, and with the switch from paper and ink to computers the need for electronic storage and organization grows. Hewlett Packard's new ProLiant MicroServer is the newest solution for small but growing businesses to stay connected and organized without a large unnecessary server.

Usually setting up a server can cost a massive amount of money that an up-and-coming business just doesn't have. With the HP ProLiant MicroServer a business can have a central server without spending much at all. At $329.99 a ProLiant MicroServer costs about as much as a desktop PC.

The basic specs for the Proliant are as follows:

Processor family-AMD Athlon™ II

Number of processors-1

Processor core available-2

Maximum memory-8 GB

Memory slots-2 DIMM slots

Memory-PC3 DDR3

Expansion slots- 1 half-height, half-length PCIe x16 Gen 2, 1 half-height, half-length PCIe x1 Gen 2

Network Controller-1GbE NC107i 1 Port

Maximum Drive Bays- 4 LEF SATA

Supported Drives- Non hot-drive 3.5 inch SATA

Storage Controller- Integrated 4 port SATA RAID

Small, efficient, and easy to use the HP ProLiant MicroServer caters perfectly to the needs of businesses with around ten clients. Though it performs well on a small scale, the ProLiant MicroServer is strictly a starter server. Bigger businesses that need more power would do better to spend a little more and buy a server that can handle a bigger workload. The HP ProLiant MicroServer is made for ease of use in smaller environments, and performs perfectly in this niche.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

KVM: Your Gateway to Open Source Server Virtualization

Red Hat KMVThe thought of switching to a virtualized infrastructure sends a shiver down the spines of most CIOs. Things like security concerns, performance uncertainty, and scalability questions are many examples of things that make the physical-to-virtualization fear so prominent. However, the Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) from Red Hat is poised to put an end to those fears.

KVM runs along the same lines as Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESX/vSphere. Just like all of these, KVM is a full virtualization technology. What that means is that virtual machines (VMs) built with KVM fully abstract computer hardware allow the operating systems to run believing that they are running on physical hardware. Memory, CPU, disk, peripherals, NICs and graphics adapters compose VMs using full virtualization technology.

The biggest thing talked about when thinking of moving to a virtual infrastructure is definitely security. Virtualization, as well as cloud computing, have received negative remarks from techies and industry participants. However, VMs are not less secure than your physical machine nor are they any more secure. Just because they are virtual doesn't mean anything is changing on the security front.

If you switch to virtual, you must still take the same security precautions that you would with a physical machine. You will need to cut out unneeded services, throw on some anti-virus protection, install a few security fixes and provide firewall protection for all of your VMs.

Performance is another issue people bring to the table. People seem to think that going VM means you have to sacrifice performance. Untrue. Red Hat boasts that the highest computing workloads (Excahnge, SAP, Oracle and Java) experience performance that is at least 90% better than that of physical machines on KVM. Some workloads, like LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) workloads, experience up to 140% greater performance on KVM.

Probably the last thing people throw into the virtualization debate is scalability. KVM's multi-core technology exploitation makes it exponentially more scalable than adding a bunch of under-utilized physical machines to your data center matrix. VMs are able to handle workloads with ease in stressed environments.

KVM gives you anything and everything you could need with the familiarity of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Now I know a lot of people out there are like me, a "try before you buy" type of person. Well, for people like us, you can download and use KVM as Promox, which is not affiliated with Red Hat. This combines containers and KVM into a single hypervisor package.

KVM is definitely a major contender in the enterprise virtualization market. It is capable of holding its own against VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer. KVM has good performance, security and scalability which should quash any fears you may be having about switching to virtualization technology.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Supplies To Build A Server

Servers can be bought, but for the tech-savvy it may make more sense to build one. With a few essential pieces of equipment and a decent internet connection a person can save quite a bit of money going the do-it-yourself route. Here are a few things someone would need to get started.

Dedicated Computer

While a server can be used as a computer, a server is more open to the internet than a dedicated computer would be. With good security software a dedicated computer can be locked down and much more secure than using a server as a desktop computer.

Server Software

Server software comes in a lot of flavors, and to run a server most efficiently it is important to choose the right software for what the server is being used for. If the server is being used for gaming, the software will need to be obtained from the gamer's publishers, while if serving a website, an open source program such as Apache can be used.

Internet Protocol (IP) Address that remains static

IP addresses are used to identify computers when they are logged on to the internet and usually are dynamic, changing every time the internet connection is reset. This is fine for servers simply being used to connect multiple computers or for gaming, but if the server is hosting a domain name (, then it will need to have a static IP address. Having a dynamic IP address when hosting a domain name can cause problems for people searching for that site.

Internet connection with fast upstream speed

The internet connection used for a server can either be dedicated to the server or shared among other computers, but a huge factor in choosing internet service is the upstream speed. Internet users typically do a lot more downloading than uploading, so most internet providers have changed their services to match these needs. People building their own servers should do a little research before choosing a provider to find one that has enough upstream bandwidth.

Security Software

Having a server opens up gateways to the internet that weren't there previously, as mentioned above, so it is crucial to have reliable antivirus software and firewall settings. Users need to be certain to have the security software on every desktop computer and laptop in the network to guarantee a safe connection.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Intel's Xeon 5600-Series Server Processor

Intel 5600-SeriesA mere 5 years ago Intel completely took the way desktop computing was headed and turned it on its head when they introduced their first dual-core Pentium processors. However, Intel soon realized they were "going against the grain" by trying to push frequencies beyond 10GHz. So Intel shifted focus from surpassing to equalizing.

The only problem with this is that servers and workstations were already using multi-socket configurations to get things moving faster. At this point, Intel's Xeons were getting royally beaten by the Operton from AMD. The Xeons were single-core processors in dual-processor boards that were only slightly aided by the same Hyper-Threading technology we know of today.

It is true that the incorporation of threaded software has been slow for the desktop market whereas business-class workstations have been enjoying multi-core CPUs for quite some time. The cost savings of switching from a single-core, dual-socket system to a dual-core, single-socket box is intense.

As hardware gets more and more powerful, software changes to take advantage, necessitating even more capable hardware. Intel launched their Xeon 5500-series CPUs for dual-socket servers and workstations. The 5500-series was characterized as the most important introduction in more than a decade, and it definitely was for Intel.

AMD had an architectural advantage by using HyperTransport, which was especially pronounced in multi-socket machines. On the other side you had Intel, who still relied on shared front side bus bandwidth for processor communication. With the introduction of the 5500-series, Intel addressed their weakness via QuickPatch Interconnect which added Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost to help improve performance in parallelized and single-threaded applications.

But Intel wasn't finished yet. This year's switch to 32 nm manufacturing allowed Intel the opportunity to add complexity to their SMB-orientated processors without altering the thermal properties. This is where the Xeon 5600-series comes into play, which supports up to six physical cores and 12MB of shared L3 cache per processor all within the 130W envelope that was created by the 5500-series.

Intel has announced that the latest 5600-series is not a contender in the workstation market right now. In order to be competitive in that market, Intel would have to pair competent processors with no less than fairly-modern core logic. Regardless, there is still plenty of hardware to compare, including a Core i7-980X. The Xeon 5600-series Server Processor is on sale now for a hefty $1,700 and is definitely one of the best servers on the market today.

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