We'll install a backup system in following possible configurations:

  • two servers in cluster with a SAS JBOD attached to them
  • one server with the same JBOD in back

However I'm thinking if really is needed to pay the price premium for one or two server (rack) chassis (our servers have ATX motherboards hence they will fit nicely in a common tower case). We don't need the rack format, neither will need the sturdier nature of a server chassis.

We don't need to put more than two hot-swappable drives (RAID 1 for OS) in the case because we have the JBOD attached.

We don't need high-performance colling and quick-access inside of the case. (yes, I read this)

Also, CD/DVD unit (which is an optional but useful accessory for us in this case) and the CPU fan would be much cheaper for a classical tower rather than for a 2U.

Redundant PSU and redundant cooling? It is really needed / worth the price / possible? (especially if we'll have a cluster)

Can someone answer / clarify the above? Am I correct in the above musings? Any other opinions? Guidance?

TIA for your answers

  • Do you not use rackmounted servers already? Is your data important? Dec 8, 2013 at 9:08
  • @MichaelHampton: 1.) If we use rackmounted servers: "No" (with quotes) because our rack is far far away from the place where this standalone system will be placed. 2.) Data from JBOD: yes, of course. Data from the server(s) disks: well, let's say no because it will be only the OS. Of course, nobody wants a kludge which will fall/fail at every 5 minutes and needs (re)installation often. Dec 8, 2013 at 9:22
  • 2
    People still build servers from individual parts?
    – ewwhite
    Dec 8, 2013 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


I think I would go with rackmount for the purposes of easier management of cables and other hardware. Easy stacking, well-defined cooling, etc.

I would suggest getting an ATX compatible 2~4U chassis. IIRC, 4U is sized similarly to normal Desktop chassis (been some time since I had 4U in my hands). This way, you can easily use ATX, with only issue being a proper CPU fan.

Of course, there's also the option of putting a tower case at the bottom of a rack :)


I'm not sure I'd subscribe to Michael's view, as expressed in his comment above. I don't think that rackmount systems are automatically more reliable or otherwise of higher quality than tower systems. I have bought excellent tower systems and awful rackmount kit; component and build quality is harder to assess than simply "what shape is the case?".

As with all these decisions, it's a tradeoff between functionality and expenditure. Rackmount-format kit is immediately worthwhile if you're planning on putting it in a colo facility or server room that charges by vertical rack footprint. Even if it's your own server room, you have finite space, and simply buying big (to save money in the short-term) isn't always a win in the long term, unless you have some business agreement that the server room can always be extended at no cost.

Redundant PSUs will depend on the cost of downtime. If you don't mind these systems being down for 48 hours while a new PSU is ordered and fitted, don't bother with redundant PSUs. If you do mind that downtime, use redundant PSUs and/or a fast-response-time maintenance contract. If you don't mind even longer downtimes and the delay of the search for replacement parts, you don't need to use branded supplier kit, and can go with a build-your-own generic solution.

The decision-making process in all these cases is: what are your business requirements? From that, you'll know what hardware decisions need to be made, and from that, you'll get a price. If the business doesn't want to pay the price, it can decide which of its requirements it will relax or remove, to enable you to choose a cheaper solution.

The insoluble problem only arises when the business insists it wants X, but will only pay the cost of 0.85X. Then you're working for one of those companies that believes that management decisions can trump reality, and the best fix for those is an up-to-date, well-circulated CV.

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