Server Buyers Guide

Scan has a large range of servers available, built to your requirements by 3XS Systems. While our intuitive configurators give you ultimate flexibility to choose the components and specification you require, are you always aware how any given choice could impact the overall performance of your server? Understanding exactly which components are the best fit for particular workloads may help you select a better server - similarly considering future expansion or flexibility may result in you choosing a different model altogether.

This guide will take you through all the major components of a server build and highlight potential areas to consider while you choose each of them. We’ll also cover accessories and some wider infrastructure points too, as these may all place a part in the performance and suitability of your server. Let’s begin.

What is a Server?

Servers act as the core for any organisation’s network - where all centrally controlled processes are carried out. This can range from storing all files and providing back-up and archive functions, through to delivering website capabilities. They are usually split into one of three main types depending on what the usage of the server will be.

Tower Servers

Servers in this format are usually designed for a small office where there may not be a dedicated rack cabinet or server room. A server like this may also do multiple tasks, so they tend to occupy a larger chassis allowing for greater internal storage space for disk drives.

Rack Servers

A rack server is designed to be installed in a 19in rack cabinet and will usually be located alongside other servers and network equipment. The more compact rack chassis design reflects the fact that this type of server will be dedicated to few or even a single job. Less space is required for storage as this is often external and shared amongst several rack servers. Larger chassis are available to compute accommodate acceleration devices such as GPUs.

Multi Node Servers

Although these are rack mounted chassis too, they differ as the chassis will contain multiple dense servers designed for very specific compute tasks. They are some times referred to as clusters and usually employed for CPU intensive workloads, where each node (distinct server) in the cluster works with the others to provide a greater level of compute power in a more dense rack space.

Servers differ from desktop PC and workstation machines in that they are designed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ‘always on’ capability is delivered by having server-grade or enterprise-class’ components - internal parts that are designed to constantly be in use, and cope with the constant workload of the server. This higher grade specification of components also delivers better residency and reliability, so it is never wise to build a server using standard PC parts. It is true that high-end workstations can employ server-grade CPUs, memory and strange drives too, but this is usually when the workstation is critical, so in effect warrants the extra reliability server parts will bring.

All 3XS servers are built using server-grade components from market leading manufacturers, and are fully tested prior to shipment. It is worth mentioning that these are identical components to those used in common server brands such as Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu and HPE, however 3XS offers greater customisation during the configuration process.

How to use this guide

There's a lot to consider when choosing a server so we've broken down this buyers guide into topics.
If you don't want to read the whole buyers guide at once, or one topic is more important to you than the others,
you can use the buttons in this index to skip to the relevant topic.

Server CPUs > Server Memory > Accelerator Cards > Server Drives > Data Security > Server Network Cards > Server Operating Systems > Professional Services > Network Storage > Networking and Infrastructure >

Server CPUs

The Central Processing Unit, or the CPU, is one of the most critical components to consider when building a new server. It governs the majority of the servers performance when it come to compute tasks and directly determines the degree of multitasking that can be performed by the server corresponding to how many cores the CPU may have. There are two main options to choose from when considering server CPUs - AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon.

AMD EPYC CPUs

AMD EPYC CPUs are designed primarily for the server market and tend to have a lot of built-in business-critical technology - for example, they support error-correcting code (ECC) memory, which prevents data corruption and system crashes. For businesses where continuous workloads are mission-critical, even a few hours downtime can cost far more than ECC memory is worth. Also EPYC processors support far higher memory bandwidth and more RAM capacity, as well as many more PCIe lanes for connecting add-in cards and NVMe SSDs. With all these extra features, scalability and fail-safes, naturally, the price reflects this.

EPYC 7003

EPYC 7003 processors are the latest range of AMD server CPUs built on the Zen 3 architecture. The range covers all price points from the 8-core base model right up to the flagship 64-core models, and now includes 28 and 56-core models. All models feature support up to 4TB of DDR4 ECC Registered memory, 32MB of L3 cache per core and 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes, however it is worth pointing out that in dual socket configurations half of the PCIe lanes are disabled and the resources inside the CPU used for inter-CPU communication, so the maximum number of useable lanes in a dual-socket EPYC system is 128.

EPYC 7003P

EPYC 7003 processors are the latest range of AMD server CPUs built on the Zen 3 architecture, however in all other regards they have the same features and capabilities of standard EPYC 7003 processors. The ‘P’ series of processors has been designed around a couple of specific scenarios - firstly that up to 64-cores in a single processor is enough that a second CPU is not required, and secondly for GPU-accelerated servers, where the majority of compute occurs in the GPU rather than CPU, so an over-specified CPU can be an expense that is rarely utilised.

EPYC 7002

EPYC 7002 processors is a range of previous generation AMD server CPUs built on the Zen 2 architecture. The range covers all budgets from the 8-core base model right up to the flagship 64-core models. All models feature support up to 4TB of DDR4 ECC Registered memory, 16MB of L3 cache per core and 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes, however it is worth pointing out that in dual socket configurations half of the PCIe lanes are disabled and the resources inside the CPU used for inter-CPU communication, so the maximum number of useable lanes in a dual-socket EPYC system is 128.

EPYC 7002P

The EPYC 7002P series is a range of previous generation single socket AMD CPUs built on the Zen 2 architecture, however in all other regards they have the same features and capabilities of standard EPYC 7002 processors. The ‘P’ series of processors has been designed around a couple of specific scenarios - firstly that up to 64-cores in a single processor is enough that a second CPU is not required, and secondly for GPU-accelerated servers, where the majority of compute occurs in the GPU rather than CPU, so an over-specified CPU can be an expense that is rarely utilised.

Intel Xeon CPUs

Intel Xeon Scalable processors are now in their 3rd generation and deliver industry leading, workload optimised performance, with built-in AI acceleration to help speed data’s transformative impact. The range is so extensive it is subdivided into three types, each designated a colour, Platinum, Gold, and Silver, but all models can be deployed in at least two processors per system, with some models even supporting more than two CPUs per server. These three families of CPU cover all workstation and server uses from entry-level tasks in small organisations all the way up to HPC clusters. It is fair to say that there is overlap between these families and it is always important to view a processor choice with your current and future workloads in mind.

Xeon Platinum

Intel Xeon Platinum 8300 family of processors are the best-in-class option for secure, agile, hybrid-cloud datacentre workloads. With enhanced hardware-based security up to eight socket processor performance, each CPU provides up to 40 cores and 80 threads, support for up to 6TB memory per socket and 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs. These processors are built for mission-critical applications such as real-time analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and multi-cloud workloads.

Xeon Gold

With support for the higher memory speeds, and enhanced memory capacity, the Xeon Gold 6300 and 5300 families of processors deliver significant improvement in performance, advanced reliability, and hardware-enhanced security. Supporting up to dual-socket configurations, each CPU provides up to 32 cores and 64 threads, support for up to 6TB memory and 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs. They are optimised for demanding mainstream datacentre, multi-cloud compute, and network and storage workloads.

Xeon Silver

Intel Xeon Silver 4300 family of processors deliver essential performance, improved memory speed, and power efficiency. Supporting up to dual-socket configurations, each CPU provides up to 20 cores and 40 threads, support for up to 6TB memory and 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs. These processors are ideal for mid-range compute and storage applications.

There are also several special edition Xeon and EPYC CPUs that have additional features designed for specific types of workloads - you can learn more about these in our dedicated Intel Xeon CPU buyers guide and our AMD EPYC CPU buyers guide.

Server Memory

The memory or RAM you want in your server will depend on what you are intending using the server for - it should also be complimentary to the level of CPU(s) you have selected. There is no point in having 64-core CPUs and only a small amount of memory as this will create a bottleneck in feeding data to the CPUS - transversely it is also not advised to have a large system memory, say 1TB but then only have lower powered CPUs, as then data supply will overwhelm the capacity to process it, causing another bottleneck.

Usually a server chassis, motherboard and memory combination will be designed so that the minimum memory allowed will provide ample performance, though this should be increased if your choose higher end CPUs, or have a workload or application that is particularly memory intensive - this will be highlighted in the ‘minimum system requirements’ section of most software packages.

A word of caution – every server CPU has a memory controller with a number of channels, typically 6 or 8, that will perform optimally when the server has the same number of DIMMs. The 3XS configurators automatically apply these rules, ensuring optimal performance regardless how much memory you select.

Accelerator Cards

An add-in PCIe card for a server is usually designed to accelerate a compute process - often these are optimised for parallel compute workloads where many calculations can be carried out much faster than a CPU can achieve. This is due to acceleration cards such as graphical processing units (GPUs) having many more cores than a CPU will have - think thousands rather than tens.

These parallel workloads are usually high performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence (AI) or general data science projects. There are a number of add-in accelerator cards that can be configured within your 3XS server to tackle these intensive tasks and depending on the chassis chosen eight to ten cards in a single server system is not uncommon.

NVIDIA GPU Accelerators

NVIDIA offer a wide range of GPU cards to suit all budgets and workloads, either in embedded SXM4 format or standard PCIe add-in card. In many cases they can be combined using NVIDIA technologies such as NVLink to combine the power of GPUs for greater performance. The processing and capability power of any given card will be determined by the architecture of the card, the number of cores and the GPU memory - you can compare individual cards and their suitability for given workloads by reading our professional GPU buyers guide.

The NVIDIA Ampere family of GPU accelerator cards represents the cutting edge in performance for AI and HPC workloads, offering unprecedented compute density, performance, and flexibility to deliver up to 5 petaFLOPS AI performance in a single system. The NVIDIA A100 accelerator is available in either standard PCIe or high-density SXM4 formats. The NVIDIA A40 accelerator card features 48GB DDR6 ECC memory and is the entry-level Ampere card. Any of these Ampere passively cooled GPUs offer the flexibility to be installed in a wide variety of both air and liquid cooled server chassis. It is also possible to use a variety of NVIDIA GPUs to deliver a virtual GPU (vGPU) experience to an organisation, whether this be for remote desktop, visualisation or compute - if this is the intended use of your 3XS custom server then you learn more by reading our dedicated section on vGPU.

Alternative Accelerators

The Xilinx Alveo range of accelerator cards deliver compute, networking, and storage acceleration in an efficient small form factor, and available with 100GbE networking, PCIe 4, and HBM2 memory. Designed to deploy in any server, they offer a flexible solution designed to increase performance for a wide range of datacentre workloads.

Micron's Deep Learning Accelerator platform is a solution comprised of a modular FPGA-based architecture, powered by Micron memory, and running a high performance engine tuned for a variety of neural networks. Featuring a broad deep learning framework support combined with an easy to use toolset and software programmability, these accelerators have the ability to run multiple neural networks simultaneously.

Intel FPGA-based accelerator cards provide hardware programmability on production qualified platforms, so data scientists can design and deploy models quickly, while allowing flexibility in a rapidly changing environment. Complete with a robust collection of software, firmware, and tools designed to make it easier to develop and deploy FPGA accelerators for workload optimisation in datacentre servers.

If your intended server is for AI training purposes then it may be worth reading our dedicated section on custom AI training servers.

Server Drives

The type and capacity of any internal storage required in a server will very much depend on what the intended use of the server is. There are two types of drives - hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD), the former features spinning disk platters on which the data is stored, whereas the latter has no moving parts and stores data on NAND flash components. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the cost effectiveness or performance required.

HDD SSD Comparison
Performance Up to 200MB/sec More than 5000MB/sec SSDs up to 25x faster
Access Times 5-8ms 0.1ms SSDs have almost no latency
Reliability 2-5% failure rate 0.5% failure rate SSDs much more reliable
Resilience Susceptible to vibrations No moving parts SSD much safer to install in a laptop
Energy Use 6-15W 2-5W SSD much more energy efficient
Noise 20-40dB Silent No noise from SSD
Capacity Up to 15TB Up to 15TB Similar in maximum capacities
Cost £-££ ££ - ££££ SSD more expensive, especially at high capacities

There are also multiple types of format and interface that can be employed - again each more or less suitable for any given usage and workload. The common choices are either SATA, SAS, M.2 or U.2 connections in either 3.5in, 2.5in or M.2 formats. There is also an option to have SSD internal storage in the form of a PCIe add-in card.

Form Factor SATA SAS U.2 NVMe M.2 NVMe
3.5"
Yes
Yes
No
No
2.5"
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
M.2
Yes
No
No
Yes

3XS server systems can be configured using enterprise-class drives from leading brands including Intel, Samsung, Seagate and WD. You can learn more about the differences between HDDs and SDDs, the types of format and interfaces in detail by reading our dedicated internal storage buyers guide.

Within a server it is common that the operating system (OS) will sit on separate drives to the applications and data, so with this in mind an M.2 SSD is ideal. Firstly large capacities are not required for the OS, and secondly it keeps traditional drive bays free for data storage. It is also worth considering a second SSD to provide redundancy and failover for the OS.

For data storage it again depends on usage - large file sizes and/or regular access requirement will benefit from SSDs, where media to be read, or archive / back-up files will be more cost effectively stored on HDDs. As a typical server chassis will take many more drives than a desktop or workstation (up to 24 is not uncommon), then choice of 2.5in or 3.5in play a more important part. Smaller drives will be more power efficient whether HDD or SSD, but for an array of many drives SSDs will win out as they need no vibration resistance and offer greater stability. At this level it may be that data expansion requires additional external storage outside of, but connected to the server - we’ll come back to this later in the guide. Finally, in a very high performance server it may be appropriate to use NMVe card SSDs to gain maximum throughput and minimum latency.

Data Security

When considering hard disk drive or solid state drive purchases for a PC, workstation, server or NAS, it is vital to understand about how best to protect the data on your drives. This can be achieved in a number of ways using RAID technology. RAID stands for redundant array of independent disks and it is essentially spreading the data over multiple drives to remove the chance of a single point of failure.

It works by blocks of data, referred to as ‘parity’ blocks, being distributed across the multiple drives so that in the event of failure of any one drive the parity blocks can be used to retrieve the lost data and rebuild the array. RAID levels are categorised by number and their attributes vary with each type.

RAID 0

RAID 0 is the fastest RAID mode since it stripes data across all of the array’s drives and as the capacities of each drive are added together it results in the highest capacity of any RAID type. However, RAID 0 lacks a very important feature - data protection. If one drive fails, all data becomes inaccessible, so while RAID 0 configuration may be ideal for gaming where performance matters but data is not critical, it is not recommended for storing critical data.

RAID 1

RAID 1 works across a maximum of two drives and provides data security since all data is written to both drives in the array. If a single drive fails, data remains available on the other drive, however, due to the time it takes to write data multiple times, performance is reduced. Additionally, RAID 1 reduces disk capacity by 50% since each bit of data is stored on both disks in the array. RAID 1 configurations are most commonly seen when mirroring drives that contain the operating system (OS) in enterprise servers, providing a back-up copy.

RAID 5

RAID 5 writes data across all drives in the array and to a parity block for each data block. If one drive fails, the data from the failed drive can be rebuilt onto a replacement drive. A minimum of three drives is required to create a RAID 5 array, and the capacity of a single drive is lost from useable storage due to the parity blocks. For example, if four 2TB drives were employed in a RAID 5 array, the useable capacity would be 3x 2TB = 6TB. Although some capacity is lost, the performance is almost as good as RAID 0, so RAID 5 is often seen as the sweet spot for many workstation and NAS uses.

RAID 6

RAID 6 writes data across all drives in the array, like RAID 5, but two parity blocks are used for each data block. This means that two drives can fail in the array without loss of data, as it can be rebuilt onto replacement drives. A minimum of four drives is required to create a RAID 6 array, although due to the dual parity block, two drives capacities are lost - for example if you had five 2TB drives in an array, the usable capacity would be 3x 2TB = 6TB. Typically due to this security versus capacity trade-off, RAID 6 would usually only be employed in NAS appliances and servers where data critical.

RAID 10

RAID 10 is referred to as a nested RAID configuration as it combines the protection of RAID 1 with the performance of RAID 0. Using four drives as an example, RAID 10 creates two RAID 1 arrays, and then combines them into a RAID 0 array. Such configurations offer exceptional data protection, allowing for two drives to fail across two RAID 1 segments. Additionally, due to the RAID 0 stripe, it provides users high performance when managing greater amounts of smaller files, so is often seen in database servers.

RAID 50

RAID 50 is referred to as a nested RAID configuration as it combines the parity protection of RAID 5 with the performance of RAID 0. Due to the speed of RAID 0 striping, RAID 50 improves upon RAID 5 performance, especially during writes, and also offers more protection than a single RAID level. RAID 50 is often employed in larger servers when you need improved fault tolerance, high capacity and fast write speeds. A minimum of six drives is required for a RAID 50 array, although the more drives in the array the longer it will take to initialise and rebuild data due to the large storage capacity.

RAID 60

RAID 60 is referred to as a nested RAID configuration as it combines the double parity protection of RAID 6 with the performance of RAID 0. Due to the speed of RAID 0 striping, RAID 60 improves upon RAID 6 performance, especially during writes, and also offers more protection than a single RAID level. RAID 60 is often employed in larger server deployments when you need exceptional fault tolerance, high capacity and fast write speeds. A minimum of eight drives is required for a RAID 60 array, although the more drives in the array the longer it will take to initialise and rebuild data due to the large storage capacity.

Systems that support RAID arrays will usually have a hot-swap capability, meaning that a failed drive can be removed from the array without powering the system down. A new drive is put in the failed arrives place and the array rebuild begins - automatically. You can also configure a hot spare drive - an empty drive that sits in the array doing nothing until a drive fails, meaning that the rebuild can start without the failed drive being removed first.

It is also worth mentioning that multiple RAID arrays can be configured in a single system - it may be that RAID 1 is employed to protect a pair of SSDs for the OS, whereas multiple drives are protected by RAID 6 including hot spare drives too. Ultimately however, the RAID configuration(s) you choose need to be controlled, either by software on the system or additional hardware within it. Let’s take a look at the options.

Hardware RAID

In a hardware RAID setup, the drives connect to a RAID controller card inserted in a PCIe slot or integrated into the motherboard. This works the same for larger servers as well as workstations and desktop computers, and many external drive enclosures have a RAID controller built in. High-end hardware RAID controllers can be upgraded with a cache protector, these comprise a small capacitor which in the event of power loss keeps powering the cache memory on the RAID controller for as long as three years. Without a cache protector, data stored in the RAID controllers cache will be lost and could cause data corruption.

Advantages Disadvantages
• No additional cost - all you need to do is connect the drives and then configure them in the OS.

• Modern CPUs are powerful so can easily handle RAID 0 & 1 processing with no noticeable performance hit.
• Software RAID is often specific to the OS being used, so it can’t generally be used for drive arrays that are shared between operating systems.

• Your restricted to the RAID settings your OS can support.

• Performance hit if you’re using more complex RAID configurations.

• If the OS dies you lose access to the RAID array.

Chipset RAID

Many AMD and Intel motherboard chipsets support some of the basic types of RAID, potentially negating the need for a hardware RAID controller.

Advantages Disadvantages
• No additional cost - all you need to do is connect the drives and then configure them in the BIOS.

• Modern CPUs are powerful so can easily handle RAID 0 & 1 processing with no noticeable performance hit.

• You’re restricted to the RAID levels your motherboard chipset supports.

• Performance hit if you’re using more complex RAID configurations.

• Limited performance and resilience compared to hardware RAID controller.

• If the motherboard fails you lose access to the RAID array.

Software RAID

The third and final type of RAID array is called software RAID and is when you use the operating system to create a RAID. Numerous operating systems support RAID, including Windows and Linux.

Advantages Disadvantages
• No additional cost - all you need to do is connect the drives and then configure them in the BIOS.

• Modern CPUs are powerful so can easily handle RAID 0 & 1 processing with no noticeable performance hit.

• You’re restricted to the RAID levels your motherboard chipset supports.

• Performance hit if you’re using more complex RAID configurations.

• Limited performance and resilience compared to hardware RAID controller.

• If the motherboard fails you lose access to the RAID array.

Server Network Cards

A wired network card, often called a network interface card (NIC) or LAN (local area network) card, is an add-in card for a system to enable it to connect to the wider network and outside world. Although most systems include a basic network card built into the motherboard as standard, there are many types of connectivity so changing or upgrading the NIC is quite common.

If you are making network connections to a regular home network or small corporate network, then Ethernet is normally adequate, but you may want more ports on the NICs or more NICs - both are ways of adding redundancy and resilience into your server and network, as you are making multiple connections in case one should fail. If you are dealing with HPC then Infiniband is the chosen standard rather than Ethernet. Similarly a Fibre connection is often used when dealing with high-end storage, so in both these cases you will need to configure NICs to suit your needs. Our network card options can be configured from leading brands such as NVIDIA Networking (formerly Mellanox), Intel and Broadcom.

Ethernet

Ethernet is the most common form of communication seen in a network and has been around since the early 1980s. Over this time the speeds of available Ethernet connections has vastly increased. The initial commonly available NICs were capable of 10 megabits per second (10Mbps), followed by 100Mbps and Gigabit Ethernet (1GbE or 1000Mbps).

In a corporate network, 1GbE has long been the standard, with faster 10GbE, 25GbE, 40GbE and 50GbE speeds also being available. The last few years have seen speeds of Ethernet increase to 100GbE, 200GbE and recently 400GbE. Although all these speeds are delivered over Ethernet, the distance of connection and speed required have an impact on the interfaces on the NIC and the types of cabling used.

On NICs with up to 10GbE speeds the RJ45 connector is used designed to take a copper based cable. Above 10GbE it is more common to see an SFP (small form-factor pluggable) port.

For RJ45 Ethernet connections the maximum distance data can be transmitted is 100m, which has limitations when looking at networks in large buildings, campuses or even city-wide. The SFP port allows for fibre optic cabling to be employed, which suffers less data loss and can achieve much higher throughput speeds. Depending on the distance and speed required different SFPs can be plugged into the NIC - we’ll look at the different SFP modules later on this guide.

It is worth mentioning that although traditionally Ethernet has lagged behind Infiniband speeds, this is now changing, due to increased common SFP interface use by the likes of Mellanox - perhaps driven by the much larger install base of Ethernet technology in the market and the opportunity for upgrade.

InfiniBand

InfiniBand is an alternative technology to Ethernet. Developed in the late 1990s it is usually found in HPC applications where high bandwidth and low latency are key requirements. Although an InfiniBand NIC fits in a server the same way and works in a similar way to an Ethernet NIC to transfer data, they historically have achieved improved throughput by not needing to use the server CPU to control data transmission, hence latency is reduced by removing this step. Like Ethernet there have been several generations of InfiniBand starting with SDR (Single Data Rate) providing 2.5Gbps throughput. This has since been superseded by Dual Data Rate (DDR - 5Gbps), Quad Data Rate (QDR - 10Gbps), Fourteen Data Rate (FDR - 14Gbps), Enhanced data Rate (EDR - 25Gbps) and the latest High Data Rate (HDR - 50Gbps) cards. Once again differing SFP modules will be employed depending on the speed wanted and distance required.

Server Operating Systems

Servers will usually run on either a Windows Server or Linux operating system, depending on whether the server is aimed towards more regular process and storage need or a high-end compute use like data science calculations.

Microsoft Windows Server 2022

Windows Server 2022 is the latest operating system (OS) for servers from Microsoft. To cover small office servers right up to datacentre deployments, it is available in three versions - Windows Server 2022 Essentials, Windows Server 2022 Standard and Windows Server 2022 Datacenter.

With up to 25 users or 50 devices, the Essentials edition is the perfect server OS for small businesses. It includes many of the features of the larger editions, such as Windows Admin Centre and System Insights. Rather than a license-based model, Essentials is just a single purchase. The Standard edition is aimed at users who only need a few Windows Server virtual machines. In addition to installation on the physical hardware, two virtual machines running Windows Server are also possible with the server license. There is no limit on Linux VMs. Nearly all features and server roles from the Datacentre Edition are also included in the Standard version. One exception is Storage Spaces Direct. Finally with the Datacenter edition, users have the greatest possible flexibility in server deployment and can realise large, rapidly changing workloads. The number of VMs is unlimited and software-defined storage can be implemented using Storage Spaces Direct.

Windows 2022 Edition Ideal for Licensing Model CAL Requirements Cost
ESSENTIALS Small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices No License required No CAL required £
STANDARD Physical or minimally virtualised environments Per CPU core Windows Server CAL ££
DATACENTRE Highly virtualised datacentres and cloud environments Per CPU core Windows Server CAL £££

To learn more about the feature sets of the three version and the licensing requirements for CPU cores and users or devices, please read our dedicated Windows Server 2022 buyers guide.

Linux

Alternatively if your server is intended to be used for deep learning and AI or HPC workloads then it is advisable to use Linux. There are many distributions of Linux available, and our 3XS Systems team can advise which is best for your given use.

Professional Services

Although all our 3XS servers come as standard with a comprehensive 3-year (1st year onsite) warranty, this can be extended to provide extra cover if required. Additional services can also be provided such as installation, remote monitoring capabilities or data science consultancy.

Installation

Installation

Scan specialists will aid with the installation of any new infrastructure, from simple single device installations all the way through to installing complete racks of equipment.

Data Scientist

Data Scientist

Scan will help effect change by building up a client’s analytical skills, developing competencies, and understanding of the intricacies of their business, through the analyses and interpretation of complex digital data.

Remote Monitoring

Remote Monitoring

Complex environments bring with them unpredictability and vulnerability, clear reasons to manage and monitor them efficiently. Scan will have visibility over your data centre/network’s functionality and operations and take a proactive approach to stay ahead of the outages, not just tackle them as they occur.

To learn more about our full service offering for your servers and wider infrastructure, please visit our professional services section.

Network Storage

As previously mentioned it is not uncommon for storage capacity to expand outside the confines of the server chassis. This may be in addition to the internal storage the server has to offer, or if significant fast flash storage is required, then a network storage system may be the best approach.

3XS servers can be configured accordingly to pair with a wide variety of leading storage systems from a number of leading brands, whether these be connected by Ethernet, Infiniband or fibre.

NAS

Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems are the simplest way to add extra storage capacity. Much like servers they can be either tower or rackmount form factors to perfectly fit either a small office or large corporate environment. Usually connected over Ethernet, we offer various NAS options from both QNAP and Synology in 4- to 16-drive bay versions, scaling to additional terabytes or petabytes if required. You can learn more about NAS solutions in our dedicated NAS buyers guide.

Tiered Storage

Tiered storage is designed to act as fast access, regular storage and archive in a single solution. Different drives types are used to achieve the parameters needed - NVMe SSDs for hot data SATA SSDs for the bulk storage, and cost-effective HDDs for the archive capacity. These tiered devices are available from our partners DDN and HPE, where inbuilt software then fluidly moves data between the tiers to maximise performance and access. The interfaces are customisable and can be configured as either Ethernet or Infiniband to match your server connectivity.

All Flash Storage

All flash storage arrays solely use SSDs - either SATA or NVMe - to ensure rapid data transfer to the connected servers. We supply solutions from NetApp, DDN, Pure Storage and Dell-EMC in various capacities which can be configured with either Ethernet or Infiniband network connections. They also offer rich software feature sets including de-duplication, snapshot technology and cloud integration.

AI Optimised Storage

Storage optimised for AI is in many way similar to the all-flash arrays mentioned above, however the main difference is that only NVMe SSDs are employed for maximum data throughput, ensuring GPUs in connected servers are utilised to the full extent. These solutions from PNY are available in various capacities and feature low latency Infiniband connectivity.

To learn more about any of these external storage solutions from our selected partners, please visit our Scan Business storage section.

Networking and Infrastructure

As mentioned earlier the server or servers act as the core of the network in any organisation, however as everything else need to access them, network connectivity and associated infrastructure is also key to overall performance.

Network Switches

A network switch is device that connects multiple PCs, workstations, servers or storage devices within a business environment to enable them to communicate within an organisation and share and access the Internet connection to the wider world. They may also be used to connect other network capable or IP (Internet Protocol) devices such as wireless access points, surveillance cameras, phones and video conferencing system. Switches increase in functionality depending on where in the network they are intended for so it is important to get the correct feature set.

As you may expect switches are available in the same networking standards as server NICs and storage appliances - Ethernet and Infiniband - and with various throughput capabilities and feature sets. It is essential to get the ones that best support your hardware devices across the network. You can learn more about choice of switches in our dedicated network switches buyer guide.

UPS

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a device that sits between the power source and a computer, or a number of computers. Its job is to ensure the computers receive a consistent and clean power supply, whilst also protecting them from power surges and power failures. A surge could damage components within the computer and a failure could interrupt data being saved on the device, resulting in errors. Essentially, the more mission-critical a computer is, the more it should be power protected by a UPS.

A UPS is a device that regulates mains power passing through it and provides emergency power when the input power source, typically the utility mains supply, fails. A UPS differs from an auxiliary or emergency power system or standby generator in that it will provide instantaneous or near-instantaneous protection from input power interruptions by means of one or more attached batteries. The battery runtime of most UPSs is relatively short - 5 to 15 minutes being typical—but sufficient to allow time to bring an auxiliary power source online, or to properly shut down your computers and other devices. Much like servers they are available in either tower or rackmount formats.

Tower UPS

Rackmount UPS

To learn more about correctly sizing a UPS, extended runtime options and connections to your servers please read our dedicated UPS buyer guide.

Power Distribution Units

PDUs or ePDUs if network connected, provide better power control from a UPS within a rack environment. Not only do they keep cabling neat, they offer monitoring ability and can even be metered if billing is being conducted in a datacentre.

Rack Cabinets

Even in a smaller office a rack cabinet provides a secure environment for UPS to be housed along with their connected servers, storage appliances and network hardware. They also work to keep cabling simple and clear and stop unauthorised users from accessing the business infrastructure. Cabinets can be configured to a range of heights - typically 14U - 47U, and with a variety of sides, shelves and mounts for PDUs and the like.

Time to Choose

We hope you’ve found our guide to custom built 3XS servers useful, giving you the additional knowledge to get the most out of our intuitive server configurators. Click below to see our great ranges of servers designed for many popular workloads.

If you would still like some advice on configuring your ideal server, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly advisors on 01204 474747 or by contacting [email protected].