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I Want You For My Server Survey

In my quest to get a handle on where servers are headed in 2010, I've
spent time thinking about architectural innovations from Intel and AMD.
I've also been serially interviewing the server vendors themselves (see
my new piece on HP). Now comes the next step--I'm pulling together a
survey for InformationWeek Analytics. And I'm asking for your help.

What I'm requesting is your input on which issues are of key importance
to you in the server space. I don't care if you're a specifier who buys
equipment for your organization, an admin, or a user. What I'm most
interested in is your insight on what I might be missing, perhaps
because it's an emerging issue that's low on my radar screen. (Or it
could just be that I'm just clueless.)

Here are the areas already on my list:

  • Virtualization. As in, how important are the virtualization
    capabilities of the server? Mostly, this is a software-side
    implementation issue, but it relates to the hardware in terms of its
    processing power as well as how many cores and sockets are on the
    motherboard. (Every physical core can be virtualized into an additional
    N logical processors.)
  • Power and Cooling. How big an imperative is it to save electricity? How heavily are your facilities people leaning on you?
  • Consolidation. How does the need for extracting efficiencies--aka
    reducing box count factor and saving operational costs--factor into
    your acquisition decisions? (This obviously overlaps with the power and
    cooling question.)
  • Processor architectures. The big battle here is Intel (Nehalem,
    Westmere) versus AMD (Opteron Istanbul). I've neglected the high-end
    RISC architectures such as Itanium and UltraSparc; those obviously have
    a place, too.
  • Storage and Networking capabilities. Support for 10-GB Ethernet. Fast I/O out to storage and flexibility in connecting to SANs.
  • Management Software features. Importance of the automated ability to discover, allocate, and manage resources.
  • Server mix in your data center. What's the distribution of commodity, mid-range, and high-end systems?
  • Memory config. Given the drive towards virtualization, what's the sweet
    spot for memory? The assumption is that everyone's specifying a lot
    more than they used to.

  • Where does the server buy fit, in relation to a complete data-center
    architecture? Many vendors now are positioning their boxes as part of a
    holistic, converged architecture. I often wonder, the good things about
    this approach notwithstanding, whether this sometimes makes it more
    difficult to parse the particular merits of the processing portion of
    the equation.

What am I missing? Let me know, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at link in the upper right.

For Further Reading:
Server Den: Inside HP's Converged Infrastructure
Server Den Asks Infoblox: What's Infrastructure 2.0?
CES Den: Cisco Video Thrust Telegraphs Bandwidth-Bandit Strategy
Server Den: Architectural Differentiation To Dominate In 2010

HP Revs Data Center Strategy, Stabbing At Cisco
AMD, Intel Remake Servers From Processor Up
Q&A: HP ProCurve Chief Technology Officer Paul Congdon
Intel CTO Envisions On-Chip Data Centers