Ten crucial server attributes

Ten crucial server attributes

Summary: Servers are the workhorses of business IT, but what are their most important features?

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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  • A server is a specialised machine — but it is also based on PC technology. So, what defines a server and separates it from the familiar personal-computing technology that lives either on your desk or your lap? And what is missing from the mix?

    Generally speaking, a core philosophy behind server design is the notion that the machine must continue to provide a service even if an individual hardware component fails. Servers also deliver files and process information for multiple users simultaneously, so they need to be computing powerhouses.

    All this data needs to get to and from users as fast as possible, so expect lots of high-speed network ports. And because they are not machines you sit in front of all day, they need to be remotely manageable.

    Finally, there is one other characteristic that servers have all possessed up until now — but that may be starting to change. (More on this later.) Here then are the most important hardware attributes a server must possess if it is to fit the bill — and at the end, we have added are some items you should not expect to see.

  • Crucial attribute 1: Processors
    At the heart of the server is the processor — or, more usually, these days, at least a pair of processors. If a server is doing anything more than just file-serving, then computing power is likely to be in demand. So this Dell T710 houses a pair of brand-new Intel Core i7 Xeon processors, using 45nm processor microarchitecture — code-named Nehalem.

Topic: Tech Industry

Manek Dubash

About Manek Dubash

Editor, journalist, analyst, presenter and blogger.


As well as blogging and writing news & features here on ZDNet, I work as a cloud analyst with STL Partners, and write for a number of other news and feature sites.


I also provide research and analysis services, video and audio production, white papers, event photography, voiceovers, event moderation, you name it...


Back story
An IT journalist for 25+ years, I worked for Ziff-Davis UK for almost 10 years on PC Magazine, reaching editor-in-chief. Before that, I worked for a number of other business & technology publications and was published in national and international titles.

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2 comments
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  • Good article..

    Yup good break down.
    CA-aba1d
  • One important thing forgotten: Hot Swap of components

    If a server is to be able to tolerate hardware failures and still provide a service, it's very useful to be able to hot swap the defective components. If not, you can lose over an hour as services shut down, you change the defective component, then reboot. Having hot swap ensures the services your server provides stay online while the admins change defective components.
    1000132644