[CentOS] Universal server hardware platform - which to choose?

Fri Jun 29 05:38:11 UTC 2012
Luke S. Crawford <lsc at prgmr.com>

On Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 09:57:33PM -0700, John R Pierce wrote:
> On 06/28/12 8:56 PM, Luke S. Crawford wrote:
> > The problem with supermicro is that the end user assembles them;
> > If you use ESD protection, this is fine.   If you dont?  go buy a dell
> > or something.
> well, the SM kit I've bought was built and integrated by a major name 
> systems integrator.   they were sold as complete solutions under this 
> vendors' label, and supported by said vendor.
> really, I'd say its all in the VAR and your service contract with them. 
> very few VARs do the level of systems testing that HP or IBM or Dell or 
> whatever do...      If you really really want to be your own systems 
> integrator, then do extensive burnin on new systems, and stock spare parts.

I agree.  Except that you don't need to do all, or even most of the
work that a systems integrator does. For me, the hard part of being a 
systems integrator is the sales and negotiation bullshit.  That's why
I don't build systems for other people.   On top of that, you have 
to deal with your customers opening them up, without ESD protection, 
and adding garbage, or customers blaming OS bugs on you.  If you only 
build for yourself, you don't have to worry about that sort of thing.

I mean,you still have to figure out if it's hardware or the OS, but
at least you get to choose the OS.

But yes.  stock spares.   I try to make sure I always have one server
(minus disks)  ready to go;  If I get a hardware problem (I can 
usually tell remotely)  I put it in the van before I head down
to the data center;  If I can't figure things out quickly on-site,
I take the hard drives out of the bad hardware, put them in the 
spare box, boot, and go.  (Of course, I also have spares of other parts;
but if something in production is down, you don't want to sit there
farting around trying to figure out which DIMM is bad while 
the pager is exploding.  Swap the whole thing and screw with it
back at the shop after you have cleaned up the support queue.)   

(if you use hardware raid, this becomes... more complicated.  
Test your procedure first.)  

>From what I've seen?  the difference between no negotiation and 
the best possible negotiation, when you buy whole servers?  is often
50% of the total price.  Sometimes more.  When buying parts? it's 5%, 
if that.   (we're talking in the 1-5 server quantity here. I'm sure
things change if you are buying hundreds or thousands at once and you
are saavy.  I've never seen a saavy entity negotiate for hundreds
or thousands of servers or parts for same.)  

That, and to negotiate well, you need to have all of the knowledge you'd
need to buy the parts to build your own server.   Either way,
unless you are prepared to just pay full price, you need to keep up
with hardware and the relitive costs. 

Heck, I'll do all the assembly and burn in work, and keep spares 
around, just to avoid the negotiation bullshit.  For me? it's far easier.
And if you ask me?  dealing with broken hardware is downright relaxing
compared with trying to convince some goddamn monkey that the 
reboot that happened last night was really a hardware issue, and yes, it 
came back up, but it still needs to get fixed.   "But it works now, right?"
(sorry... I just remember some extremely frustrating experiences dealing
with dell's verson of Mordak.  And I was getting paid by the hour, so if
corporations had feelings, the company hiring me would really have felt 

But that has as much to do with who I am and what skills I have as
anything else.   If I were an extrovert, I'd probably find 'educating'
tech support to be less of a hellish experience. 

And, of course, on all but the super expensive plans, if it's not
acceptable to be down all weekend for a hardware failure on friday
night, well, you still need those spares.   

(Of course, if I only had one or two servers, it'd probably make sense
to just pay twice the price and be done with it.  But nearly all of my
net worth is tied up in server hardware, so I can't walk away from that

But yeah, my point is just that if you build the hardware yourself, you
only have to do a small subset of the 'systems intigrator' work. 
Yeah, it's a lot more technical work than just firing the money
cannon at dell or HP, but it's a lot less social work than trying
to get a reasonable deal, or trying to get reasonable service
out of dell or HP.