5 tips for building a server

Building a server capable of handling modern IT workloads can be a challenge without the proper strategy and hardware. Here are five general guidelines that can help businesses build a more efficient and reliable dedicated on-premises server.

Determine optimal roles for servers:

Servers are responsible for providing services to client computers in a network. These services range from tasks such as enabling employees to access and share files over the network, to tasks involving big data analytics.

Commonly used types of servers include:

Application server: hosts web applications

Computing server: shares computing resources and tools

Database server: stores data and enables data retrieval

File server: shares and stores both files and folders

Mail server: enables email transfer between clients

Web server: hosts web pages and fulfills HTTP requests

Server usage varies greatly from business to business. When building a dedicated server, businesses should consider the types of data requests that are most commonly involved in daily business operations. Other factors that need to be taken into account include the size of both the business and office space, types of clientele, etc. This will help business owners determine the optimal role and hardware requirements for the server.

Choose a suitable OS and form factor:

In comparison with consumer-grade operating systems, server-grade operating systems are able to provide services to a higher number of clients simultaneously. Some of the factors to consider when choosing a suitable OS is the level of stability, pricing and available technical support.

Dedicated servers are often housed on-premises, which means businesses have to figure out how the server hardware will physically fit in the office space. There are three types of form factors used to house hardware:

Towers: Towers are similar to a desktop PC case (chassis). Configuring a tower can be more straight-forward and they work well for a small collection of servers.

Rack: Rack servers are designed in a drawer-like configuration where multiple servers are stacked with each other. This minimizes the space taken up by the servers while allowing additional servers to be added. Racks work well for a larger collection of servers in more confined areas.

Blade: Blade servers also use a drawer-like configuration but unlike rack servers, they require a blade enclosure that delivers power, cooling as well as networking. The blade enclosure must be compatible with the entire collection of servers for it to work properly. Blade servers are also more compact, offering greater space-efficiency than rack mounts.

If your business plans on expanding its server farm or even building a data center in the long run, it is important to choose configurations that accommodate increased scalability. Rack and blade servers are more space-efficient so they may be ideal choices for server expansion. With increased server expansion, it is important to maximize cooling efficiency to match the higher power consumption.

Prioritize server-grade hardware components:

Servers are computers that are responsible for serving multiple clients. Because servers need to be running at all times, they require a combination of performance and reliability, which is the strong suit of server-grade hardware. Server-grade hardware is built with extra overhead and specialized features to prevent hardware failure, minimizing downtime. While any PC can function as a server, consumer-grade hardware is not designed to handle server workloads on a consistent basis. Consumer-grade components may also lack the intercompatibility of server-grade hardware.

Server-grade hardware is highly recommended due to the following features:

Motherboard: Server-grade motherboards are often equipped with multiple CPU sockets to support multiple processors for heavier workloads. They also typically support ECC (error-correcting code)-RAM.

Processor: Server-grade processors typically have higher core counts, enabling them to multitask more efficiently. Optimized clock speeds on server-grade processors are also more conducive for performanceand power efficiency, which are essential to server performance.

Memory: Server-grade RAM utilizes ECC protection to mitigate data corruption. ECC memory uses an error correction code to help detect and correct data errors. This feature is particularly important because data integrity is an area of emphasis for server performance. This is especially the case for industries that deal with sensitive data and have zero tolerance for data errors. ECC memory also helps avoid potential system crashes, enhancing server reliability.

Storage: Storage drives such as SAS (serial attached SCSI) drives are a better fit in servers compared to SATA drives, as they excel in handling higher workloads. SAS drives are full-duplex and offer faster data transmission, while also being more durable with higher MTBF ratings. SAS drives are designed to tolerate the wear and tear of enterprise-level traffic usage. Most server-grade storage drives are also hot-swappable. This allows technicians to easily swap out the defective drive for a functional drive.

RAID: RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) cards are used as a failsafe for storage in servers.

Implement redundancies:

Redundancy is a must when it comes to server building. Even in the event of hardware failure, redundancies enable the system to continue running without shutting down the server. Solutions such as hot-swappable power supplies are a failsafe for power supply failure.

Redundancies should also be implemented for data storage. Hot-swappable drives are a form of data storage redundancy, RAID is another. RAID is used as a failsafe to mitigate data loss from hard drive failure. With certain types of RAID, notably RAID 1, data is written to a drive and mirrored on another drive. This ensures that if a storage drive goes defective, the redundant drive has a copy of the data and can continue reading/writing data.

It’s important to note that redundancies are not the same as a backup. Building RAID only mirrors a drive and replaces it in case of hardware failure. It does not back up the data to a storage device outside of the server. Instead, solutions like a NAS (network attached storage) device are designed to back up data externally and can be used in conjunction with RAID.

Bolster data security:

Data security is an increasing concern. Data breaches are some of the most damaging cybersecurity threats in terms of costs and occur with alarming frequency. General security must be ramped up to protect dedicated on-premises servers. For physical security of server hardware, biometrics and key fobs can help keep perpetrators out of office premises. In terms of data security, multi-factor authentication and the extensive use of encryption on storage devices can prevent data breaches.

Axiom can help your business build the right server

As THE OEM Alternative®, Axiom has played an integral role in helping businesses build high-performing, reliable servers and data centers. Axiom solutions consist of a wide selection of server-grade ECC memory, hot-swappable SAS storage drives with built-in encryption and other server-grade solutions. Axiom also offers system-specific upgrades for legacy server and data center infrastructures. Axion solutions offer OEM equivalent or better performance, at a fraction of the cost of OEM hardware. Explore our full lineup of IT infrastructure solutions and contact our team today to get a free quote.