December 21st, 2005

Computer stuff

Attn server geeks

I'm looking for some input. For work we need some more rack mount servers for some new projects. Nothing uber, single or dual processor boxes is what we were thinking. Mainly looking for boxes with good redundancy, which is why we might do dual CPU. I'm leaning towards Opteron boxes because A) I'm an AMD guy, B) Opteron runs rings around Xeon, and C) Opteron uses less power and costs less. The ugly part is we need to run Windows - 2k/2k3 Server - on most of them, but we may drop Linux on some. That eliminates Sun's Opteron boxes, and Dell since they don't do AMD. HP and IBM are the two big boys that come to mind, but I'm looking for any recommendations for other vendors I should take a good look at - or avoid for that matter.

Also, another thought I had was to look at blade servers instead of pizza boxes. It looks like there is more upfront cost, but then expansion is easier and management is easier as well. I don't have any hands-on experience with blade servers, anyone have anything to share?

Tangentially, I'm looking to standardize on a Linux flavor. (Yes, Linux. There are three of us in Ops, two of us are fluent in Linux and not really in *BSD.) Right now we have a few boxes that accumulated over time running Slackware, Red Hat Linux (non Enterprise), and Fedora Core. RHL is defunct. Fedora Core is an option, but the experimental nature doesn't sit well. RHEL seems like an expensive option. Slackware I don't have a good feeling for in a commercial environment. Debian is right out for a few reasons - just go with the slow releases as the main one. Gentoo is even more out - we're not compiling things every time we install it, no way. I think the two main options are going with SuSE Linux or CentOS. CentOS seems to be what we're leaning toward, but none of us have actually used it. CentOS is pretty much RHEL with the branding filed off. Any input?