Servers are the heart of any network. They house the company's data, and are used to run Line-of-Business applications (like Microsoft SQL Server, or Oracle), such as databases and post office programs (Microsoft Exchange Server, for example.) The demands on these computers are quite high, compared with the average desktop computer.  The consequences of a failure are also greater.  Most companies will be out of business if their server fails.  Because of this, servers are built to a higher standard than normal computers, and have a higher cost.  They basically come in two forms, desktop format (tower case), and rack mount.

Desktop Style

Intel Server Chassis

Desktop style servers may look like a regular desktop computer, but they are not.  Some build servers out of desktop class hardware, but we call them Dressed Up Desktops (DUDs).  They will function, but not give you the reliability and functionality that you need.  A server starts with a server chassis.  We use Intel server chassis, because of their high quality construction and availability of features.  Server chassis usually provide hot swap drive bays, so that removing and installing drives can be done without shutting down the server (and your business.)  They generally have more drive bays to accommodate the larger number drives that servers often have.  They are better ventilated to provide better cooling.  They can be had with multiple power supplies, so that if a power supply dies, it can be replaced while the server is running. 

Inside the case is a server class motherboard.  These motherboards are built for servers, with server processors, multiple network ports, controllers for SAS, SCSI, and SATA drives, multiple processors, plenty of memory slots, and all of the other goodies that server require.  We use Intel motherboards boards for their rugged construction and their compatibility with the Intel Xeon processors that we use.  The combination is a fast, reliable server that will last for many years with no trouble.  We also use Opteron processors from AMD, when the customer prefers them.  For these we use Gigabyte motherboards.  They are built better than the average board, using twice the thickness of copper in the leads, and solid electrolyte capacitors, to ensure long life.

Rack Mount

[Servers in a Rack]Photo courtesy of Jamison Judd

When you have a number of servers, you might want to consider rack mounting them.  You probably also have a large network switch (the thing with all of the network cabling running in and out), which can be rack mounted.  You might also have telephone equipment that can be rack mounted.  The advantage to rack mounting is that you can put a lot of equipment into a small space.  When you are paying for every square foot in your office, you don't want a lot of it taken up by a bunch of computers.  There are several disadvantages to rack mounting that have to be considered.  The first is cost.  The racks cost from a few hundred dollars to many thousands, depending on the size, and the features of the rack.  The rack mount cases for the servers can also be more expensive.  Another drawback is the heat intensity.  If you put a lot of servers into one rack, with all of that heat generation, it is hard to cool it.  You might need an auxiliary rack with cooling installed, or even a rack air conditioner.  Finally, rack mount server cases are generally very tight, and very slim.  Look at the picture to the left.  There is not room for the big fans that help us cool desktop cases.  Small fans running fast are the order of the day.  This makes the servers noisy.  When you have a stack of these, the noise level is significant.  We are not talking earplug level, but it is definitely not conducive to an office environment.  You would want a special room to hold the rack.  Should you wish to go this route, for the long term savings in space rental, we will be happy to advise you on the cooling needs for the rack and for the room.  We have the expertise in air conditioning to properly cool both.

Our rack mount servers are built from the same Intel motherboards that are used in the desktop type servers.  Different cooling solutions are used on the CPU's, but the boards are the same.  We also use the Intel rack mount chassis, along with chassis from industry leader SuperMicro, depending on the exact configuration you need. 

The bottom line is that no matter what your server needs are, we can provide you with the solution that best fits those needs.