What is a Server?

by | Jun 6, 2022

Hey There,

What is a server? A server is any computer that houses and delivers digital information to clients. The server is the basic component of a datacenter. Any computer can be a server, even a laptop. It’s all in how you configure the computer to function and what it does. One main differentiator between an enterprise server and a regular desktop computer/server is how they are designed to run. An enterprise server is designed to never shutoff. They have special RAM that has error correction code that prevents byte level changes. They have dual power supplies or more. They have 1-4 or more CPU’s.

Servers also generally have an out-of-band management system. For Dell servers this is called iDRAC and in a general sense this is called IPMI. These are separate computers that run on the main computer. They are kind of a like a window into the main computer. They also have some integrations that allow you communicate and change the main server. This is very important for troubleshooting a computer when there is a software issue. The server may be fine hardware wise, but there is a software bug that causes an issue. You can login to your IPMI or iDRAC and troubleshoot from the outside, but still be remote or off-site.

The form factor is different on Rack servers vs Tower servers as well. Rack servers are designed to fit into a rack mount system to maximize efficiency of space, compute power, and cooling ability. A rack mount server is measured vertically using U measurements. A full rack is 42U in height, and a general purpose server will be 2U in height. This is important for cooling in a datacenter as you are able to have efficiency in cooling by having cold air sucked in the front of the server and blown out the back. In datacenter design you use this principle to create hot and cold aisles and dictate your airflow for maximum cooling.

We are currently rolling out our own custom server architecture. We use AMD Ryzen 9 processors and Kingston memory (We found NEMIX memory is a little unreliable). You also want to use server grade motherboards for the IPMI capability. We ran servers for a while with desktop motherboards, and they just don’t cut it for a 24/7 server needs.

I recommend Dell servers as another option. Their R series of servers are bulletproof and will run for years and years without issue. You can find R720’s and R730’s for relatively cheap online at used retailers. A good option is Orange Computers, which is where we have bought some of our servers from. They provide a great service and also test servers before they leave their warehouse. You will need to learn the Dell systems and integrations which can be challenging. Their custom interfaces for server management are a bit complicated.

Hire us for your server needs.




Owner, Altha Technology