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We're planning to host our website for the first time for ourselves. We have currently have a linode of 8 gigs and the memory is going up to 90% most of the time. So I want to move my website to my own server with huge RAM. So this will be first time to manage any physical hardware of a server.

So I came across IBM's BladeCenter, found them interesting. So can I just buy the blade and run it? Or do I have to buy the chassis for sure? Also, do I need to buy an UPS? So how hard is it to setup? How about the hard drives? Can I setup them easily? Please advice.

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Quick note: Blades are for specialised deployments, such as high density socket/core counts per rack, or extremely flexible, bare-bones scenarios. They're not for most people. –  Mark Henderson Nov 14 '11 at 23:59
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FYI, blade center servers have fans that are loud as hell. –  Trevor Boyd Smith Nov 15 '11 at 13:52
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We have many HP c7000 Blades systems and they are not loud at all...probably the some of the quietest systems we have, unless you go pulling some of the fans up causing the others to work harder to make for the lost airflow. –  mrTomahawk Nov 16 '11 at 12:00
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@varchar1 - it is considered polite to mark your question as answered if you don't have any further questions. :) –  Tim Brigham Nov 17 '11 at 15:48
    
@timbrigham I just learned how to do that, thanks. –  varchar1 Nov 17 '11 at 20:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 27 down vote accepted

Unless you have a very good reason - density, etc - I would advise against going with blades.

A good 2U server from HP or Dell would provide all you need in the way of RAM. I personally prefer HP DL380's - I have several with 72+ GB of RAM. You really need to get a better grip on the fundamentals before you start worrying about what kind of hardware to purchase. You need to have reliable power, cooling, security (locked rack / server room), network access, ram and disk specifications, etc before you start looking at the kind of servers to buy.

EDIT - there is no such thing as an all in one guide to servers. I'll provide you with some preliminary stuff to get started. There is a little bit of extra information in here just in case anyone comes across this at a later point in time.

This Tech Republic article does well describing the physical requirements you should be thinking about.

Your existing bandwidth requirements should be pretty easy to determine. From the tone of your question you have a hosted solution somewhere else, either a VPS or some kind of hosting provider. You should be able to locate your existing utilization data. Expect to provide the same amount of bandwidth or higher for your in house server. The same can be said regarding the amount of disk space you require.

You definitely need to have a UPS in place for your server. Without power conditioning in place you are asking for disaster. What happens if the power flickers for one second Friday night? Your website will be out of commission until someone notices Monday morning.

Regarding your disks, you need to have RAID in your server. I suggest either RAID 5, RAID 10 or RAID 6, See here and here. Most any modern server provides this capacity. Consult the server manual for how to configure the RAID as it varies widely by manufacturer.

There are a couple more advanced points associated with running your own server that should be considered as well.

Along with running any server the burden of maintaining backups becomes yours as well. It sounds like this is something that you haven't considered. In this situation you might go with a tape drive attached directly to your server.. In any case it is something you should be thinking about.

Any internet facing server creates some risk for the network it sits on. Use a firewall to protect it from most internet traffic. To minimize risk to The use of a DMZ is highly recommended.

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thank you, is there any guide for beginners like me, to setup physical servers? –  varchar1 Nov 14 '11 at 17:52
    
+1 Also every blade server I've seen requires a matching chassis, they will not operate independently. Don't mess with a beginner guide, if you want to do something now hire someone that knows what they're talking about. –  Chris S Nov 14 '11 at 18:23
    
@Chris S - good point about the chassis. Thought I had covered that aspect. Thanks for pointing it out. –  Tim Brigham Nov 14 '11 at 18:25
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Disagree on RAID level. RAID 5 loses all of its fault tolerance if a single disk dies; at this point any bad block that may exist on another disk will be lost; thus, use RAID6 or RAID10 with at least three mirrors in the RAID1 layer (this will waste more space, but is significantly faster for small writes, which is important for databases). –  Simon Richter Nov 15 '11 at 7:24
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+1 for simply going with someone else besides IBM. Personally, I'd recommend Dell. They'll put the whole thing together for you and setup whichever RAID you want. Order a server from IBM and you'll have to do that yourself, typically for more $$$. –  schellack Nov 15 '11 at 12:30

Yes, you do need the chassis. Blades typically don't contain much storage and lack network I/O on the blade itself. Because of the density, you need much better cooling than you would need to cool a couple of 1U servers. Unless you can specifically justify the need for blades, you're better off without them.

The people that need them know that they need them. The people that aren't sure usually don't.

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Very true. If you're not sure if you need blades, 99.9% chance you don't need them. –  Mark Henderson Nov 14 '11 at 23:58
    
+1 for the last sentence. –  Phil Nov 15 '11 at 1:23

Are you sure that buying larger hardware (and then hosting it yourself (shudder)) is the right answer? What happens when the new host runs out of memory/cpu/storage/etc? Get an even larger host?

I'd stay away from your weakness (managing hardware, this is your first ever physical host) and stay with your strengths (running a website) and investigate moving from a single webhost to multiple webhosts. Horizontally scaling a webapp is a well-understood problem with many solutions, and after the initial investment allows almost unlimited scaling.

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thank you, I'll surely consider that –  varchar1 Nov 15 '11 at 13:25

I suggest you collocation: when you host your own equipment in a data center.

By the nature of your questions I suggest you a managed collocation ;)

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