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Thread: Server Hardware

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Unanswered: Server Hardware

    Just wondering, which server hardware do you guys use for SQL Servers - we use Dell, curious to know what you are using - John Adams

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Holmestrand, Norway
    As I understand (from the situation here in Norway), Dell does have som decent hardware, but you have to know the Dell Servers pretty well yourself, since the sales/presales at the Dell office, well... don't do a very good job.

    As I'm certified on HP ProLiant Servers, it should be pretty obvious that I primarily use HP ProLiant Servers. I think that DL 380 and DL385 are very good database servers.

    I have a formre collegue who mainly use IBM Servers, and I do see that from a memory perspective the IBM x3650 will be a better choice than DL 380/385 from HP, but I have no experience with IBM Severs myself.

    From a hardware perspective, I think it doesn't care too much what vendor you are choosing. The servers seems to be more or less identical in hardware. However, there are some differences in the software, drivers, and support, and in my opinion HP does a great job here.
    Ole Kristian Velstadbråten Bangås - Virinco - - Facebook - Twitter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Ooooo, I've been waiting for a thread like this!

    Two years ago we transitioned from Dell servers to IBM (not my choice, a single-source contract awarded at echelons much higher than my humble station).

    Not the greatest hardware in the world. Cheap plastic parts that break easily. Not the first to market with a lot of newer technology. We used mostly 2650s with a few 6650s. We also used a co-branded Dell/EMC CX 500 and a Dell/EMC CX 400.

    Installation: We chose to have Dell install our CX arrays, while we racked, stacked and configured the servers ourselves. Dell tech came well prepared, showed me what needed to be done and was in and out in a reasonable period of time having installed the switchs, SANS, cabled the servers and configured storage and storage groups. Very positive experience.

    Support: I always received excellent support from their Gold Support crew. Maybe one call in 20 resulted in an unsatisfactory outcome. In particular, the Dell/EMC support group was great. I rarely had to wait more than 2 minutes on the phone to talk to someone competent.

    Web Site: GREAT! An awesome way to track serial numbers, warranties, downloads, firmware, etc.

    Purchasing: Easy! Web configurator is an easy tool and keeps you from making some really dumb mistakes. The servers were consistent from one month to the next and it was easy to track firmware/serials etc.

    Dell OpenManage: Okay. Not perfect, but pretty decent for what we needed (alerts when stuff goes wrong).

    We switched to IBM two years ago. It has been an abomination. I went into the situation with an open mind; IBM is IBM, you'll never get fired for choosing IBM, right? Ugh, what a hideous nightmare it has been.

    Installation: Same deal, they installed a DS 4300, we did the servers. Well sortta. I racked, stacked and cabled the DS4300 ahead of time (the Dell tech, by contrast, had done all the racking and stacking). I inserted the 42 disk drives that it came with and cabled the servers. All the tech had to do was update firmware and configure storage and the switches and we would be up and running. After two days (14 hours) of fiddling around and getting no where, I got fed up and "fired" the tech. IBM sent a replacement two days later and finally got things rolling.

    War story: roughly 60% of our IBM x460s (and x3950s) arrived DOA. The average time to return the equipment to functional status was 2 days.

    Support: Positively abysmal. About 3 times in 4 I get a tech who knows nothing or next to nothing (except the read back to me verbatim the error message that corresponds to the error code I just provided). I had a tech tell me to be sure that the covers were on the unused SFPs so as to prevent "RF interference"! SFPs are OPTICAL!!!

    Unless you call for something simple (like replacing a hard drive), you're better off doing it yourself.

    War Story: To get IBM to ship a replacement disk to my home (4 miles from work) nearly took an act of Congress. They didn't want to help me. Dell allowed me to pick an alternate point of delivery anywhere within 10 miles for no charge and no hassle. Dell and IBM use the same parts/delivery facility in my area.

    War Story #2: IBM attempted to ship me a 73 GB Fibre Channel HD from Mexico even though there were 20 in stock less than 10 miles away. After waiting beyond the 4 hour window, I called and the tech said, "oops".

    Web Site: Sucks big time. No way to track serial numbers. Navigation is a nightmare, getting firmware downloads that match your server configuration is a beast.

    Purchasing: IBM has a horrible habit of shipping the latest and greatest, which is okay, but often times you can't find compatible equipment. We found that out last Octover when we took delivery of brand new x3650s that come with the new PCI-E cards. Only there were no PCI-E cards certified on the x3650. There was a riser card that you could purchase to retrofit to the old PCI-X standard, but these were on back order (apparently we weren't the only ones to discover this little joy). We had a HUGE issue with some new IBM SAN Volume Controllers (SVCs) which were not compatible with our VMWare ESX servers (but which IBM had promised were compatible). That took nearly six months to resolve and the resolution was very unsatisfactory (custom kernel for ESX). We opted to move the servers off of SVC storage.

    IBM seems to rotate their manufacturing lines frequently; you can't buy the same server two days in a row. This means that firmware is different, on board equipment is different. It's a pain to track and manage.

    War story: we bought an IBM x460 and specified 32 GB RAM. They shipped it with 16 GB. When we pointed this out, they said that their computer had made a mistake and matched the wrong part number to the "32 GB RAM" description on the quote. The quote description said 32 GB RAM, the part number was for 16 GB RAM. We paid for what the quote said, but IBM tried to shaft us and make us take the 16 GB. We finally won that battle, but it was a dumb battle for IBM to try to fight.

    War story: IBM promised that SVC firmware upgrades were non-disruptive and foolproof. Yeah, right. Tell that to the tech that watched as one SVC node died in the middle of an upgrade and would not restart.

    IBM Director: It sucks. Even the IBM people tell us they don't use it. Like a lot of what IBM has, it's pretty, but it's damned impossible to configure and use.

    I have no experience as a user with HP. I worked in the old Compaq manufacturing/distribution system in Houston in the late 90s. From what I saw, I wouldn't touch HP with a ten foot pole.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to vent!

    Last edited by hmscott; 05-17-07 at 21:48.
    Have you hugged your backup today?

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