I'm helping a friend of mine who has a small datacenter in San Jose make some purchasing decisions in expanding hgis offerings and buying new computers for dedicated servers to rent out. Not a huge operation - but growing and he wants to make the right choices.
He is somewhat conservative. Even SATA is a little new/scary for him. I'm a little on the bleeding edge side not afraid to screw with the latest and greatest stuff on the few servers I own. What I'm looking for is a middle ground of stable/reliable but newer that what he's running now - and with customer acceptance in mind.
Currently he's got Celeron/P4/Xoen servers in his mix now and using mostly IDE drives. I have receintly become an AMD convert as it seems to me that AMD is just a lot more value for the money and uses far less power which is a significant cost factor at MAE-West. So I'm thinking Semptron/Athlon/Athlon X2/Opterons. But - what customers want/accept is important - and tryin to figure out what kind of customers we want to attract.
So - getting to the point - lets start with hard drives. IDE vs. SATA - I think SATA replaces IDE and that there's no reason not to run just SATA. Cost is similar. SATA is a little faster - more modern - thin cables - and master/slave goes away. Down side - drive names /dev/sdx instead of /dev/hdx and I don't think they have SMART working with Linux yet.
So - thoughts on drives? What is best - and what do customers want?
CPUs - more controversial - I think AMD has significant advantages over Intel. But - Intel still wins on market acceptance. What are customers asking for? And - do I want to focus on a certian type of customer?
Cases - He has an interesting mix of an oddball 1U and some desktop cases he got cheap. The desktops fit 2 wide in the racks. I'm thinking something in between. There's a small desktop type case that's about 4 inches wide and holds 2-3 drives and I think we can get them 3 wide in the racks. Because they have more room that 1U sould be more reliable is my thinking.
So - in general - if you were buying new stuff today - whay would you all buy and why?
Your question is a tough to answer, because everyone has diffrent needs in this industry. However, I have noticed people like to go to where the value is which is typically Celeron-P4 grade servers. IMO, your friend should probably have a mix of servers but stay in the low end range so when his buisneess goes live, his offerings will appeal to everyone.
I personally look for RAID to be pushed on servers. If you offer it can save your customers a lot of headache from hard disk failures causing an entire server to go offline. I also prefer SATA or SCSI drives, much faster than IDEs.
You should have a little bit of everything. From low-end Celerons to high-end Quad Opterons
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You know what I would like to do - and I've never done this before - is build up a bunch of didkless servers that would boot from some server with terabytes of hard drive space with raid etc and somehow be able to create what looks like a local hard disk that really isn't. But that would really be bleeding edge.
But I am thinking in terms of an rsync backup solution. All the server would be read ready - seems to be a standard feature on MB these days.
I've been doing some benchmarks and AMD Semptrons seem to be running as fast as 478 pin P4 processors. I have no experience with 775 pin Intel. The 939 pin Athlon 64 are just plain fast - and Dual Core Athlons seem to run in the same class as Dual Xeons - but quite a bit cheaper.
And there's a question of what kind of customer he wants to attract. For example - an AMD leaning customer is perhaps culturally different than an Intel only customer. Someone who asks for Redhat 9 but refuses Fedora Core or Centos is yet a different breed.
If it were up to me - I would tend to try to target the "smarter" customers. One's that need less support. But - it's not up to me. I'm just doing consulting/research and I know it's a very competitive business with thin profit margins and buying smart I think is the key to making it profitable. I would have a hard time - for example - buying a Celeron after experimenting with Semptrons.
Then we want to spend as little as possible but still get reliability.
So - more questions.
Who makes good cheap "just works" motherboards?
What brand of hard drive is reliable and a good deal? I've had good luck with Maxtor and lately had more WD failures than I'm comfortable with. What do you all think?