[lug] server spec

Lee Woodworth blug-mail at duboulder.com
Wed Jun 13 18:59:50 MDT 2007

Nate Duehr wrote:
> Sean Reifschneider wrote:
>> I'd guess it's a problem with your environment.  With modern systems, you
>> have to be extremely careful about the aerodynamics of the server room.
>> You can't just stick one thermostat in there and if it reads 70 degrees
>> assume everything is fine.  You also have to be very careful about
>> knowing
>> where exhaust is going and where intake is coming from.
> So really we're agreeing.  By "modern system standards", if you're not
> in a data center designed by a thermodynamicist - you "have a problem
> with your environment"?
> :-)
> Older servers would sit in the corner of a room, ANY room, and survive.
>  Today's 1RU machines need to be babied, compared to that.  That's all I
> was saying.
> I used to work in the data center world, and I know one thing... the
> cooling WILL fail.  Never been in any data center where it didn't,
> eventually.
Even when there are backups for the AC?

> (I also work in telco, and I remember when CO's were kept religiously at
> 68F or below.  Nowadays, you're lucky if they're below 80F... cost
> cutting and cutting corners...)
> I recommend that even if you're installing in a data center environment
> -- buy something that will survive the failure of your fancy data center
> provider's fancy cooling system -- because it WILL go down.  Sooner or
> later.
> The old AT&T machines, Sun boxes, older HP-UX servers, and a number of
> more "robust" servers always survived overheating/loss of cooling events
> and rarely needed maintenance afterward when I have seen problems
> happen.  In many cases, PeeCee-based 1RU boxes, just shut themselves off
>  or fried components during those events... even if the problems never
> showed up for a couple of months afterward.
> I remember clearly which customers came and went doing maintenance on
> their hardware at the multiple data centers I worked at.  And the people
> that owned racks full of PeeCee hardware, were in and out all the time,
> swapping things.
> The customers that bought commercial Unix servers, you never saw them.
> Maybe once or twice a year during a disk failure, and even then, they
> usually had service contracts for that stuff... the Sun/HP/IBM guy would
> show up with a disk, call 'em on the phone, tell them he'd put the disk
> in, and he was gone.
> Also, your reply assumes the original poster was putting his 1RU
> machines in a data center environment.  Maybe he wasn't planning on
> that, but I may have missed it.  When you have the luxury of paying
> someone for rack space in a nicely controlled environment, great.
> Or maybe I should say -- they shouldn't NEED to put a 1RU PeeCee in a
> datacenter with "properly designed airflow".  If they need to, that
> quality level of machine should NOT be called a "server".
> REAL well-engineered servers shouldn't keel over dead at the first sign
> of an 85 degree room, or a little "hot spot" at their air intakes.
> Most PeeCee 1RU commercially built servers show 120F or higher as their
> "normal operating range" in their engineering documentation, but still
> keel over dead or shut down to save themselves if the temps in a room
> get that high.
> Why, as consumers, do we let the manufacturers get away with that?  Or
> are we all just too cheap?  (GRIN)  I know I probably am.
> I really respect Sean's opinion on the list here, because he's one of
> the few people I know that really "eats his own dogfood" when it comes
> to building servers... he lives off what his servers do for him.
> But I still contend that 1RU "servers" are generally a cheap trade-off,
> a legacy of the dot-bomb era where people were charging (and still are)
> far too much for rack space in a room where when the AC or power fails,
> all they are is little death camps for your servers.
> Big bandwidth in a closet in a office building is sometimes a lot safer
> and cheaper than the big data center environments that lure folks with
> flashy marketing and hype.  IF you know how to multi-home and can find a
> little office building that needs lessees that has a fiber running
> by/through.
> Sometimes data centers really are a bad place to put things... as they
> say, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall".
> I have at least one 1RU Dell machine (dual-P3) living on a mountaintop
> in a only semi-climate-controlled room.  It has to be there for various
> reasons, but I trust it to survive or shut itself down if the
> squirrel-cage fails.  I'm not sure I'd trust ALL of the SuperMicro line
> up there... some yeah, not all.  If I had one, a Sun Enterprise 480
> would be perfect up there.  It'd never go down.
Until the lightning bolt goes through your power protection :)

> Nate
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