Am I making the right choice with 4S+ Xeon 7400 servers?

With 2S Xeon processors delivering outstanding energy efficient performance, I get many questions from customers on “what about the Dunnington-based Servers”, “would it make sense for me to continue to use 4S servers in my IT/Enterprise”, “am I making the right choices with Dunnington” and so on.

The answer is a yes, even considering our 2S Nehalem-EP based servers expected in Q1 2009.

Customers make choices based on their business requirements – whether the new platform would be able to meet their IT needs. And in making such a decision in today’s economic context, there is temptation to use a 2S server as it is costs less. However, the choice of the server platform should not be dictated by the price alone; there are other more important considerations that you have to look into before deciding on the right choice.

One of our customers in banking had a very interesting problem – the system should be capable of delivering a user-acceptable response time while maintain headroom for growth. And the customer was keen to use virtualization running his workloads. With these key parameters (among others) in mind, we sized both 2S and 4S servers for the customer. And it turned out, that both the 2S and 4S servers were able to meet the response time, but the 4S server could deliver the “headroom for growth”. The headroom was based on the bank’s projected business growth in the next 12-24 months, their existing datacenter facility (space, power, cooling) and opportunity to further consolidate applications in a virtualization environment. The bank could have easily settled on a multiple 2S servers running in a virtual pool, but when you factor in “headroom for growth” considerations, the 4S+ Xeon 7400 servers still deliver the performance scalability and expandability that is needed today and tomorrow.

The bank finally settled on ten 4S servers and ten 8S servers. These servers had the unique capability to scale (4S to 8S to 16S) within the same OS footprint (while keep costs under control) and also deliver the performance headroom for the bank’s further needs.

In doing the above exercise for the bank, simple guidelines emerged – a) select the right architecture that scales in the future, b) look at established OS/App technologies such as virtualization to consolidate the environment, c) make decisions based on “your workload” running on the new servers and use published benchmarks as indicatives only.

Let me know what you think – share your views.