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CET2176C - Server+ Lecture #3 - Server Categories and Roles

Lecture Only
The student will become familiar with:
The various physical categories of server,
The advantages and disadvantages of each class,
Factors in deciding on the physical class.
The various well defined roles of the server,
The basic objectives of each role,
The logical grouping of roles.

The student will become familiar with the various physical categories or form factors of the server family of IBM PC compatible computers including the advantages and disadvantages of each category and factors involved in choosing the server form factor as it relates to the servers role(s) and the physical server framework. The student will become familiar with the major well defined roles as recognized within the IT industry and the basic functionality expected from each type of server. Based on this information the student can make intelligent choices concerning how to group logically related roles into a single server while designing the logical server framework.

  1. A few of the basic server form factors have already been mentioned in the server planning phase of the server project. Now this subject will be explored in further depth. It should be noted that the "IBM PC Compatible" or "industry standard microcomputer" is only one class of general purpose computer that can fulfill the server roles of the organization.

    Supercomputer: Most powerful (the day they are built), most expensive, special order designed and built, "installation level" (whole buildings or wings are devoted to housing them), usually proprietary and require specially trained staff to install, configure, maintain, and use them.
    Mainframe: Most powerful regular production models, very expensive, "installation level" (whole buildings or wings are devoted to housing them), usually proprietary and require specially trained staff to install, configure, maintain, and use them, usually feature standard interfaces for easier integration with microcomputer (and other) client systems.
    Minicomputer: Expensive, usually fully compatible with the same manufacturer's mainframe systems and expansion modules, usually proprietary and require specially trained staff to install, configure, maintain, and use them, usually feature standard interfaces for easier integration with microcomputer (and other) client systems.
    Microcomputer: Least expensive, usually industry standard architecture, much smaller and are usually the best investment in price versus computing power although they still suffer from a relatively weak upper limit on their maximum computing capability.
  2. Obviously the supercomputer, mainframe, and minicomputer fall beyond the scope of the coverage of the course, but it is well worth noting that even some "barebones" minicomputers are actually more powerful than a "maxed out" PC-based server design and while still more expensive, the minicomputer can be upgraded to computing capacities far beyond the ability of any PC-based system. Here is a typical minicomputer: the IBM iSeries Model 9406-595:

    Specification Summary:
    - Dimensions: H:79.7" W:30.9" D:52.2"
    - Weight: 2995lb (no integrated UPS)
    - IBM advanced POWER5TM processors—the ninth and tenth generation of 64-bit processor technology
    - Multi-platform operating environment with capability to support i5/OS, Linux, Microsoft Windows Server,
    AIX 5L, plus application environments such as WebSphereTM and JavaTM
    - On demand pricing options help match purchasing flexibility with technology and business needs
    - Extensive portfolio of proven solutions available in all operating environments
    - Enterprise-class dynamic logical partitioning for allocation and virtualization of resources—up to 10
    partitions per processor
    - Enhanced support for Web modernization of 5250 OLTP (On-line Transaction Processing) applications
    - Flexible packaging options—Standard, Enterprise, High Availability and Capacity BackUp Editions deliver
    outstanding value and provide growth options
    - Capacity on Demand features to dynamically apply system resources for accommodating peak application
    workloads — includes On/Off Capacity on Demand which allows you to pay only for the capacity you activate
    - Includes i5/OS and can add Windows, Linux and AIX 5L operating systems
    - 8/16-way, 16/32-way, 32/64-way and 4/32-way CPU offerings provide from 31500 CPW to 216000 CPW
    (Commercial Processing Workload, these are 16, 32 and 64 CPU based parallel processing systems)
    - 16 GB to 2 TB (2048 GB) memory
    - Up to 2700 disk drives – up to 381 TB of capacity
    - Up to 96 I/O expansion towers/drawers via High Speed Links
    - Up to 1152 PCI-X slots, up to 160 LANs (160 independent Network
    Interface Controllers)
    - Up to 60 Integrated xSeriesTM Servers (complete independent single
    box module server)
    - Up to 57 Integrated xSeries Adapters
    - Redundant, hot-plug components for additional reliability

  3. The minicomputer's base hardware inventory including 16GB of RAM is larger than most PC's can be expanded up to, and having 16 microprocessors definitely outclasses anything that PC's can do, for now. PC-based servers come in the following physical form factor classes:

    Standard PC: Desktop and Tower form factors intended for use in regular PC configurations.
    Rackmount: Standard telecommunications 19" rackmountable. The actual width of the device is 17.75" The standard telecommunications device modular rack system allows for the installation of 42U or height units. Each overall height unit is 1.75" so the standard maximum occupied height of the rack is 73.5" or 6 feet 1.5 inches. Rackmount server chassis are available in 1U (actually 1.719" height) to 27U and even larger.

    Tour image taken from, clearly the interior of a 1U rackmount server is so cramped that
    practically every component has to be redesigned (different form factor from the industry standard)
    in order to fit. Notice the long thin power supply in the upper right corner interior.

    Cabinet Chassis: While some of these are standalone "doublewide" towers, some are also rackmountable such
    as the DELL PowerEdge server already discussed in the Server Planning Phase.

    The large standard 19" rackmount thumb screws are clearly visible on each side of this rackmountable cabinet chassis
    server that can also have casters installed on the bottom so it can be used standalone.

    Blade server: The next generation of compact server beyond the rackmount server is the blade server. No matter how thin the rackmount server is made, it will still occupy 1U of a telecommunications rack (1.75" height "footprint") Furthermore, a standard rackmount server must be 17.75" wide and typical modern rack systems allow for a maximum depth of 39.4" which is space that the server occupies that other units cannot occupy. To this end, manufacturers are designing blade enclosures that are rackmountable and into which individual blade servers are then mounted. This allows the form factor of the blade server to be even smaller and allows many more blade servers to be mounted into the rack than if each one actually occupied its own rack units of space.

Review Questions
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