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Are barebones server reliable?

Tags:
  • Asus
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Barebones
  • Business Computing
  • Servers
Last response: in Business Computing
June 23, 2014 9:18:45 PM

Is a barebones server like ASUS RS300-E7/RS4 just as reliable and good as a server like HP DL320e G8? The reason I ask is because I am shopping for a small business server and when I configure a HP server I feel like their options like hard drives are overpriced. Therefore I planned to build a barebones server using a Xeon E3-1230 v3 and some Seagate Constellation Es.3 drives with a LSI MegaRaid card but would I be better of with a server from a brand like HP, Dell, IBM, etc.? Thanks in advance!

More about : barebones server reliable

a c 2072 Ĉ ASUS
a b α HP
June 23, 2014 10:24:45 PM

Should be fine with it! I agree on HP, think they are far overpriced
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June 24, 2014 4:02:23 AM

building your own server with custom parts should be ok.
i think you can check supermicro too.
just check your OS HCL to get compatibility .

the only thing you have to think of is getting support for all the parts from few vendors as in hp,dell,ibm you get it in one place and of course their availability in 1,2,3 years ahead.
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a b α HP
June 25, 2014 11:06:55 AM

HP uses the same vendors that you can get for drives and memory, but test samples to higher than normal standards.

Dell and IBM do the same. IBM machines can be a bit picky about the hardware sometimes, but HP and Dell will work with 3rd party hardware with nothing more than a warning that it's not "(Vendor) Genuine hardware".

You do pay more for an HP/Dell/IBM, but you also get a one-stop shop service for years that covers everything.

If you're looking to reduce costs, you can get the drive caddies pretty cheap for most vendors and use your own drives and memory that fit the server specs. HP uses the following manufacturers that I can recall off the top of my head:

Hard Drives/SSDs: Fujistu, Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital, Samsung, Intel
RAM: Hynix, Elpida, Nanya, Micron Tech, Samsung. (Corsair and Kingston both make parts that they certify are compatible with HP ProLiant servers, and have lifetime warranties)
NICs/HBAs: Broadcom, Qlogic, Emulex, Intel
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Best solution

June 25, 2014 5:03:27 PM

There's two things here to cover, first, the original question.

Yes, going with a barebones server can still over you just as good of reliability, performance, and capabilities as the big-name, pre-configured systems. The difference comes down to you are doing the legwork of having to test your hardware to ensure it is all working 100% compatible together, and you don't have specialized drivers of firmware made to ensure 100% compatibility for each other. Take for example, a Supermicro barebones system. While they will test a select pool of common RAID controllers, they aren't making custom firmware or driver changes to ensure that these devices are behaving optimally together. With HP, They take their gamut of servers and test them with 100% compatibility with their HP Smart Array RAID controllers and can thus make appropriate firmware and driver revisions to make fixes or optimize operations. Now, that being said, they're still not absolutely perfect either, but they have a focused team of developers and experts basically doing all that work that you otherwise would have to take responsibility for.

The next thing here is the cost of pre-built systems like you metioned with the HP ProLiant servers. Understand there is more than one way to go about purchasing these servers. If you go onto their website and customize a system to have built for you you are going to be paying absolute top dollar for these things. Instead, you can look at pricing a system through a registered HP reseller. As a reseller myself, I can get access to special pricing promotions and discounts that they do not reflect online, so the cost for ordering the same thing would be less than ordering directly through their online web portal. The other option is taking a more "barebones" approach and do it yourself. Many of the HP servers (especially the Smart Buy options) come with a processor and base amount of RAM installed. From there you can install your own hard drives. Again, it is recommended to get HP hard drives because of certified compatibility with the hardware, but yes you can also just get HP compatible Gen8 hard drive caddies and put your own hard drives in there. I'd still HIGHLY recommend going with server-class storage drives if you do use your own hard drives. You can also add more hardware including additional RAM, additional network cards, etc. to the base configuration.
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June 27, 2014 11:28:31 AM

I agree with the above answers that yes, you can build your own servers with some of the same spec'ed hardware, perhaps even the same brand/model.

Here's why you might decide to pay more for the HP server over your own:

1) Parts covered under Warranty - the big hardware vendors maintain replacement parts for their server lines to cover all of the different parts that go into their server. So if your motherboard fails 3 years from now and you have a 4 years warranty on that server, they (are supposed to) have replacements for that board and will replace it within your service timeframe. If you source your own hardware, you either have to buy another one as a backup spare part or just hope the original one never dies.

2) Tech support - the big server vendors will give you tech support to determine if it's one of their hardware parts that is failing. If you buy your own, you become your own tech support.

3) A 3rd reason they are higher in price is the service aspect. The server vendors usually have onsite warranties, so if a part dies, they have to send someone out to replace the part. So part of that initial higher amount is to pay to have someone available to service that warranty (service companies like Unisys). It also allows the server vendor to sell you different hour response times as well.

So consider these factors before deciding to roll your own. If you don't feel comfortable supporting all of the above, then let one of the server vendors do it. It's not worth your time or stress.

Dealing with different hardware manufacturers can be a pain. I had to go through this recently with ASRock Rack (ASRock's server line of motherboards). I had NO direct # to call, had to fill out an online form for support, and finally got an email almost a week later. I was okay with that because their board was not in a server I have to use everyday, and I was only building it for a future project. However, that type of support would be unacceptable to me for a server I had to use 24x7.

Edit: I also bought two of the same server, so I have the same parts for everything.
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June 30, 2014 3:38:51 PM

Thanks for all the help guys! I will probably stick with HP since its going to be for a small business and reliability will be important:D 
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