Is it easier to buy a train set or a server?

While shopping for Christmas gifts, I noticed that the purchase drivers and purchase process for a train set for my 8-year-old son were, strangely enough, very similar to the ones for a small business server. No, living and breathing in the server world at Intel has not made me crazy. Let me explain...

Purchase drivers:
• In the SMB world, the number one driver for a server purchase is “natural upgrade” (caused, for example, by warranty expiration.) That can translate into a transition from a desktop-on-the-side to a real server, or a server refresh. The next driver is “support for new applications” such as a Customer Relationship Management database.
• In my son’s world, it was time to upgrade from a wooden train to a real model train. He also wanted support for a new application: an automated railroad switch.

Trusted advisor:

• I talked a few days ago with an Intel Channel Partner about one of their customers. One thing stood out from our conversation. He told me that his customer “is not in the IT business. He’s in the education business.” When it’s time to look for a new server, Intel resellers bring to the table years of experience and sound business recommendations for IT solutions that will give you more time to focus on your area of expertise — your business.
• My son is not a train engineer (yet), so he naturally turned to his closest trusted advisor, somebody with a long history of deploying train sets — his dad!

Where to buy:

• It’s no surprise that most small businesses rely on a local Intel reseller when it comes to buying and installing a server. Some of you have already gone a step beyond and rely on your IT partner to host your storage database or manage your IT remotely. Cloud anyone?

• My son used holiday catalogs to research train set options. Then we went to the local toy/model store to get more advice and check out the offers. I have a feeling the relationship with this store is meant to last for several years to come….

Financing and ROI:

• In this difficult environment, everyone is re-evaluating spending. The government as well as vendors have put in place some programs to support IT investment. Investing wisely now can help save money, increase productivity and prepare you for the turnaround. Refreshing a 3-year-old server with one based on the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series can give you up to 5.2x faster performance (1) and up to 3.7x more energy efficiency (2).  The performance improvement with the entry server based on Intel Xeon 3400 series is significant, too.
• For my son’s train set, I took advantage of a stimulus package funded by his grandparents and uncles. I think his big smile on Christmas day will be proof of a substantial return on their investment.

Product choice:

• When you’re purchasing a server, you have some choices to make. Do you want one or two sockets? Is DDR3 or FB-DIMM memory best for you needs? These choices are going to be based on your needs for reliability, compatibility and performance.
• In the model train world the’re choices, too. HO, O, N, or Z scale? Which brand? How did he choose? Quite simply, he chose a size compatible with the 30-year-old trains from his father (yep, he saved them. Don’t ask.), and a renowned and reliable brand. .

More headroom for the future

So, with the help of your IT advisor, you’ve made your choice. The good thing about Intel-based servers is that they provide you headroom as your business grows and as your employee and customer bases increase. The Intel Modular Server even gives you the option to add up to six compute modules in one chassis.

• For my son, I see railroad extensions and train cars in his future for many birthdays and Christmases to come.

The only differences: footprint and noise with the new Intel Xeon processor 5500 series you can consolidate your infrastructure from nine servers to one

quite a space saving! And Intel-based servers keep getting quieter. I don’t think the footprint of my son’s railroad can be limited to a simple track. And I can imagine the roar of the engine and the whistle running through our house.

When I think about it, buying a server just might be simpler and faster than buying a train set− especially with the help of a trusted advisor like your local Intel reseller. What do you think?

This is my last blog of the year. I’m looking to hearing from you in 2010.

Happy holidays, happy servers everybody!

(1) Baseline Configuration and Score on Benchmark: Supermicro* X7SBE system with one Intel® Xeon® processor E3120 (Dual-Core, 3.16 GHz, 6MB L2 cache), EIST Enabled, Hardware Prefetch Enabled, Adjacent Sector Pre-fetch enabled, 8GB memory (4x 2GB DDR2-800 ECC), WDC SE WD1200JS 120G SATA, 7200rpm, SuSE* Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2 for x86_64, kernel: Source: Intel internal testing as of October 2008. Scores: 45.95 for SPECint_rate_base2006

New Configuration and Score on Benchmark:  ASUS Z8PE-D12X based server platform with two Intel Xeon processors X5570 2.93GHz, 8MB L3 cache, 6.4GT/s QPI, 24 GB memory (6x4GB PC3-10600R, CL9-9-9, ECC), SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2 x86_64 Kernel, Intel C++ Compiler for Linux32 and Linux64 version 11.0 build 20090131. Source: Score: 241

(2) Baseline Configuration and Score on Benchmark: Supermicro* X7SBE system with one Intel® Xeon® processor E3120 (Dual-Core, 3.16 GHz, 6MB L2 cache), EIST Enabled, Hardware Prefetch Disabled, Adjacent Sector Pre-fetch Disabled, C1E Enabled, 8GB memory (4x 2GB DDR2-800 ECC), WDC SE WD1200JS 120G SATA, 7200rpm, Microsoft* Windows* Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition SP2 OS. Source: Intel internal testing as of August 2008. Scores: 529
New Configuration and Score on Benchmark: IBM System x3650 M2* server platform with two Intel Xeon processor X5570, 2.93GHz, 8 GB (4 x 2) memory, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Enterprise* OS. IBM J9 Java* 6 Runtime Environment JVM.    Result submitted to at 1977 ssj_ops/watt. For additional details see: Score: 1977

(3) Intel estimates as of Nov 2008. 8 month payback is an Intel estimate based on comparing the cost savings achieved in 9:1 server consolidation from both power/cooling and OS licensing versus the estimated cost of purchasing a new server featuring Intel Xeon processor 5500 series. Results have been estimated based on internal Intel analysis and are provided for informational purposes only. Performance comparison using SPECjbb2005 bops (business operations per second). Any difference in system hardware or software design or configuration may affect actual performance. For detailed calculations, configurations and assumptions, see