KC Killoran
Global Product Manager for Servers & Storage

10 Things You Need to Know When Choosing a Server



When I get calls about servers, I first start off by gaining an understanding of the customer’s infrastructure and what OEM’s they standardize on. We want to get as much information as we can to make sure we can provide the customer with the most cost-effective solution. 

  1. Has your company standardized on OEM?
  2. What type of applications will you be running and how many?
  3. What type of processors do you need, and how many?
  4. Will this server be used for virtualization?
  5. What type of switch ports do you need to support the server, and how many?
  6. Is CPU speed or core count more important? Or both?
  7. About manageability—do you need remote access?
  8. What kind of connectivity will you need: 1GbE, 10GbE, 10Gb SFP+ or FC?
  9. How much memory do you need?
  10. How much power do you really need?

The server you select depends entirely on the applications you will be running, and these applications tend to be very robust. If you don’t have the correct hardware to support the application, you can experience latency, errors, and even worse: downtime.

Always refer to each application’s OEM for the hardware requirements that you may need. For companies with many applications (i.e., file, email, CRM and database), you will need a stronger tower, rack, or blade server.

When it comes to processors, consider the application you are using. In most cases, the application will require a particular type of processor, core, and speed. The last thing you want is to buy a processor that is too powerful—you don’t want to spend money on something you don’t need. Worse yet, you don’t want to get a processor that doesn’t provide a balanced server because it will give you a bottleneck instead.

Additionally, customers will sometimes order too many servers only to find that they don’t have enough ports on their switch to plug it into. Remember: do an empty port count in your existing network to see if you need to buy another switch to support your new deployment of servers.

As far as memory goes, more is better. It will cost initially, but that’s better than taking down your network to install and max out the memory on your server when you could have gotten it done on the initial deployment!  It’s best to max out your server with memory to avoid the hassle of taking down your network. 

Finally, calculate how much power you will need for your server so you can get the adequate power supply.  Power consumption—or conservation rather—hot topic in any environment.  Don’t ignore the fact that your server may draw a lot of power depending on the components you install.  Review the power draw per component, and pick based on the needs of your environment.

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