Last year, voting was held for the Third Annual ServerWatch Product Excellence Awards.
That was a reader-driven program which held for two years. The results were as expected. While in few cases history repeated and patterns remained the same, in rest, new and some of the times surprising winners emerged.
As usual, innovation remained a key driver, but that year, with enterprises narrowing their objectives and IT budgets getting smaller, the mindshare that goes with being time-tested seems to have given these products an advantage.
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Small Business Server
There is nothing small with small enterprises. With 25 million in only USA, as on report by the Small Business Administration, they are producing about 2/3rd of all new jobs.
Therefore, it is no surprise to see the big players finding big opportunities in small and mid-size business sector. Regardless of ever-escalating competition in the Small Business Server market, Dell keeps on retaining its title edging out the Apple xServe.
The winning Dell PowerEdge 2970 is much same like its predecessor (the PowerEdge 2950) as it is designed to be a big-purpose server that is used generally. It is splendid whether it is taking the role of an application, database, file/print, email or any other type of server. However, PowerEdge 2970 have several notable distinctive features. The major, no doubt, is that different from the Intel Xeon-based 2950, the Dell PowerEdge 2970 is running on AMD’s Opteron dual-core processor.
Apple took the runner-up position with its Apple xServe. It took home the award 3 years before, thus it is open that Dell & Apple are the two players which are now consistent favorites among people.
As is specific with Apple products, the xServe has a pricing premium over all competing Windows servers. The xServe uses Apple’s 64-bit OS X Server with an unlimited client license; this thing makes it up for the pricing premium. The reason is OS X is based on a Unix base, most of server functions are actually repackaged open source applications; this includes Apache, Tomcat, MySQL, and Samba. Apple gives value to it by incorporating its administration into an accessible, interconnected interface.
The midrange server category has developed to level where it is difficult to say what it means. Multicore has muddied the waters & the situation is nobody is willing to look at raw processors anymore. However, there are servers that can neither be categorized as entry-level nor high-end and that are built to fulfill the requirements that do not fall clearly into either category.
And few servers, such as the Sun SPARC Enterprise T5220, which attained first position, are specifically agile. Unveiled in October, the Sun SPARC Enterprise T5220 was listed in the first rack-mount systems to be based on Sun’s T2 processor, which has eight cores with support to eight threads per core. While the 2U server features a single processor, a specification that would not put it in the midrange classification of yore, it has 64-GB of memory and capacity to add eight hot-pluggable drives and can run both a 1.2GHz and 1.4GHz processor.
Readers also took up the HP Integrity rx7640, a product that the OEM says as mid-range server and ideal for scaling to database hosting, ERP, CRM, business intelligence, data mining and data warehousing requirements. This server carries up to 8 dual-core Itanium processors. It features 1200 GB (4×300 GB) of internal storage space. Its memory capacity can be extended up to 256 GB. It has custom-designed 278pin DIMMs and bus bandwidth of 34 GB/s.
High-End Server or Mainframe
Since the time of its beginning, the high-end server market has been a crowded space with small number of vendors. HP and IBM mainly dominate. Likewise, the market is small and deep-pocketed, yet customers cannot bear downtime. Although the statistics are changing, many businesses demanding for a mainframe fall near the Fortune 1000 line.
So, it is not astonishing that the traditional won out yet over again. That year the HP Integrity Superdome regained top awards. It features more than double the functioning of the old-generation, single-core servers, and it does that by consuming a less power.
I think that the key selling point of this new generation of Superdome products to attract potential customers is their configuration choices. Enterprises have choice to select from 16-, 32-, and 64-socket models. Dual-core Itanium processors and the sx2000 chipset run these servers, which includes no internal disks, and therefore relay on direct-attached storage (like SCSI) or network-attached storage (for example, Fiber Channel or high-speed Ethernet).
on the other hand, IBM, which in 2007 won for its z9 mainframe Enterprise Class, took the second best position with its fresh mainframe product — the z10. The z10 was unveiled in February. It is the biggest redevelopment to Big Iron in almost three years. The z10 was created with considering the energy efficiency and virtualization factor. It was its paramount goals. It is also set for consolidation: almost 1,500 x86 servers can work on one z10.
Storage goes on to be a major concern for enterprises of all sizes. Not just are storage requirements increasing, but the pressure to organize and keep data up to modern standards is growing also. More capacity requirements are not the single storage constant — so is the winner of the Storage System category: NetApp won as champion once again with its award-winning NetApp FAS2000 Series.
In 2007, NetApp StoreVault S500 gained honors. As it comes out, the StoreVault reached on top. In early 2008, the NetApp announced it was closing down its small and medium business StoreVault section turning into its FAS storage unit.
At that time, NetApp stated blending the lines of businesses would enable it to extend the StoreVault program into distant and branch offices as an extension of it core product line.
However, readers agreed with the decision, as NetApp moved to the win to regain its storage honor.
In a bit of amazement, Hitachi’s Simple Modular Storage Model 100 expelled out EMC & IBM to get the second best position. Specially designed for the SMB sector the Simple Modular Storage Model 100 supports 4 servers & save up to 9TB of data.
Even so, similar to any good story, there is a bit of twist: The IBM BladeCenter was moving for a three-peat last year (2008), after taking the category two times in both 2006 & 2007. Even though, IBM is still in the heart of blade users, this time HP came through to achieve the top position with its HP BladeSystem C3000 – aka, Shorty.
To kick IBM down its blade perch, HP should come with some innovation, and it did. Shorty, as the name describes, is a compact blade enclosure specially designed for smaller companies and branch/remote offices. One of the attractiveness of C3000 is that it is simpatico with HP’s larger enclosure, the C7000. That is, it can work with the same server & storage products without needing special power, cooling or IT knowledge to implement.