10 Data Center Server Hardware Must-Haves

by Kenneth Hess

When making your 2011 hardware purchases, leave room for a few key items you really require to make good service great.

Take your data center to the next level by adding components that will not only enhance security but will also enhance your overall service level. There's no substitute for quality. Even redundancies will not substitute for quality in a data center where customers expect 100 percent uptime, iron-clad security and superb performance. These 10 hardware additions will help you maintain excellent service and outstanding security for you and your customers.

1. Blade Server

Blade servers require less space, less energy and less time to deploy. One of the major advantages of blade servers is that they now ship with solid state drives as standard internal storage. As blade technology matures and hardware formats continue to shrink, they will become the computing mainstay of the world's data centers.

2. Flywheel UPS

This not-new technology is making a big comeback as a green energy source for data centers. They're green because there's no huge bank of lead acid batteries in which to store usable energy. Flywheel UPS systems can store a huge amount of power in a relatively small and light package. In the case of a power outage, the Flywheel UPS supplies glitch-free power until the main generators come online to provide long-term power to equipment and facilities.

3. Retina Scanners

Data center security is of extreme importance to prevent unauthorized physical access to sensitive systems. Retina scanners provide a very high level of security against would-be terrorists, thieves and vandals. Keycards and secure tokens can be stolen, but retinas are unique and can't be easily misplaced, stolen or duplicated like other kinds of security devices.

4. 100Gb Ethernet Switches

High-speed Ethernet is a requirement for passing huge amounts of data between systems. 100Gb Ethernet is the next transition on the road to extreme broadband connectivity inside your data center. Server-to-server communications must be near instantaneous for critical workloads, and 100Gb Ethernet puts you one step closer to that goal.

5. Wireless Access Points

With the surge in tablet computing, netbook use and inexpensive laptop availability, support personnel are looking for mobility in the data center. Without wireless access, system administrators and hardware personnel are limited to using completely wired crash carts or remote systems for supporting "hard to get to" racked servers. Remember to use a secure access code to minimize unauthorized use.

6. Digital Data Shredder

Every data center needs a data shredder for reasons much like why every office needs a paper shredder. A data shredder is a device to which you connect disk drives and wipe them of all data. The shredder makes it impossible to recover data from a disk. All disks removed from racked systems should visit the shredder prior to disposal or return. Yes, it's a bit more work than simply reformatting a drive while inside a server, but it's also worth the effort to protect your sensitive data from prying eyes.

7. SSD SAN Storage

Data centers should begin transitioning to solid state disk (SSD) SAN for high-speed access storage this year. SSDs are more expensive and should be used only in cases where workloads demand high disk I/O. Don't waste their high-priced capacity for file storage or long-term backup needs.

8. KVM Console Servers

Going "headless" in the data center sounds like a great pitch to management types, but try working on one and you'll change your mind in a hurry. No, you don't have to attach a monitor, keyboard and mouse to every system in your data center. You should, however use KVM Console Servers so your system administrators can do their jobs more effectively. Searching throughout a data center for an available crash cart is a waste of time and slows down workflow to a crawl. KVM systems are relatively inexpensive and make it easier to maintain hundreds of systems.

9. Virtual Tape Libraries

Virtual Tape Libraries (VTLs) are actually disk-based systems that allow you to offload backups to them for eventual leisurely backup to physical tape. VTLs are fast and remove the possibility of failed backups due to tape-related glitches or bottlenecks. VTLs work with existing backup software, and your systems are none the wiser because they "think" they're backing up to traditional tape-based storage.

10. Network Attached Storage

You need SAN for high-speed storage access and you need network-attached storage (NAS) for workloads and storage that don't require blazing speeds. NAS is cost-effective for storage, file services, ISO repositories and virtual machine template repositories, as well as of limited use for workload access.

Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which was published in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.

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This article was originally published on Thursday Mar 10th 2011
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