From Chapter Three: The Windows Culture

Continuing the Wintel data center tour - this time looking at the hardware and licensed software these guys look after.
Written by Paul Murphy, Contributor
This is the 34th excerpt from the second book in the Defen series: BIT: Business Information Technology: Foundations, Infrastructure, and Culture

Note to readers: in reviewing this stuff myself I'm struck by both how much and how little has changed since 2002/3 (the date of this tour). I'm thinking this whole Wintel culture thing needs revision - and one of those revisions might be a second tour, focused on the situation in 2008/9. Comments on change would therefore be of particular interest.

The 2002/3 Windows data center tour

The Computers

All of the more recently acquired gear is from IBM - note the complexity of the installations in terms of licensing, operations, and replacement.

Sales office servers (about 1600 units)

The current generation remote office server is an xSeries 220 with:

  • dual 1.26GHZ P3 processors
  • dual 512MB memory assemblies
  • Ultra160 SCSI PCI RAID controller with hot swap support
  • Four 36.7GB, 15K RPM, drives,
  • Floppy, CD, 17 inch flat screen, keyboard, mouse, and tower chassis
  • APC 1000 UPS
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, 5 CAL (Preloaded) plus IBM Director

and has a cost of about $6,600 before shipping and installation for the hardware.

Each server now has Microsoft Small Business Server 2000, 10 CAL (Preloaded) at a licensed cost of $1,599 per unit for a total of $8,100 for each unit as installed.

(Note that these are scheduled for replacement with 2.2Ghz units with Windows 2003 Server as the AD rollout progresses.)

Remote desktops (about 9,000 units)

About half the PCs in sales offices are fixed desktops; the remainder are laptops. The desktop units are mid range IBM Netvista S series units. The current generation has a 2GHZ P4 processor, 256MB, a 40GB drive, a network card, and Windows 2000 Professional with Office 2000 Professional for a total cost of about $1,940 before delivery and installation. These had XP installed on delivery but have been down graded to 2000 pending AD rollout.

In addition, each unit has a copy of IBM Personal Communications V5.6 ($245) for 327X emulation and mainframe access over TCP/IP as well as the free Domino client.

HQ Desktops (about 1,700 units)

Most of the headquarters desktops are fixed. The current standard for these is the IBM NetVista S Series with an 18 inch flat panel, 512MB, a 2.5GHZ processor, and Microsoft Office 2003 professional running on Microsoft Windows 2003 professional at a current price of about $2,416.

In addition, each unit has a copy of IBM Personal Communications V5.6 ($245) for 327X emulation and mainframe access over TCP/IP as well as the free Domino client.

Laptops (about 7,000 units)

About half the desktops in the sales offices and about 300 assigned to head quarters staff as second machines are mid range IBM T series Thinkpads. These have the Thin pad dock, a 2GHZ P4, 512MB, Microsoft Windows XP/Professional and Office Professional for a total cost of about $3800.

In addition, each unit has a copy of IBM Personal Communications V5.6 ($245) for 327X emulation and mainframe access over TCP/IP as well as the free Domino client.

Main Office Servers (62 units)

Most of the main office servers are xSeries 335s although each rack also contains two xSeries 360 machines. The 335s are typically configured as dual 2.4GHZ Xeons, with 2GB of RAM, Microsoft Windows 2003 Server with the base 25 Client Access Licenses upgraded to fifty licenses.

Over all 62 machines, inclusive of the rack mounts and controls, these average $19,600 each.

In addition each rack has a locally attached external RAID compatible disk set. Generally, these are IBM NAS 200 network attached storage units with twelve 36.4Gb disks in a RAID 5 configuration. These cost $21,600 each, pre-installation.

Data Center Servers (116 units)

Newer data center servers are also IBM x335 rack mounted, dual processors running Windows 2003 Server. In each case specific servers, primarily SQL-Server and caching servers are licensed per CPU to avoid user limits:

Base System (1 CPU, 2.4GHZ, Tower Chassis, 512MB, CD) $2,699
2 x IBM 36.4 GB 15K-rpm Ultra320 SCSI Hot-Swap SL HDD 2 x $769
Remote Supervisor Adapter $499
Windows 2003 Advanced Server, 1-8 CPU, 25 CAL (Preloaded) plus IBM Director $3,295
xSeries 2.4GHz 512KB L2 Cache Xeon Processor $599
IBM 10/100 Dual Port Server Adapter (Single Path) $209
2 x 1GB DDR PC2100 ECC DIMM 2 x $1,558
Power Cord For IBM Rack $29
NAS 100 System $4,420
Asset tag $14
Total $16,418

The average hardware cost per x335 server at list is $16,418. Shipping and installation are charged separately.

The average rack and related mounting cost is $3,640. The data center intentionally reduces machine density per rack to 14 to enable inclusion of the UPS and cabling packs inside the rack - so 10 racks are currently in use.

The average server is configured as one dual processor Microsoft licensed server product. Typically this is SQL-Server at $19,999 per CPU ($39,998 per machine) but some run biztalk Enterprise edition ($51,000) and a few run less expensive servers such as ISA ($6,000 per CPU);

The NAS 200 Model 25T Storage Specifications (from ibm.com)

  • Compact tower or rack configurations
  • High powered 2.4GHz Intel Xeon processor; second processor optional
  • 512MB of ECC 133MHz memory standard; expandable to 4.5GB
  • Choice of ServeRAID adapters
  • Five PCI ports with a variety Ethernet options offering teaming and failover functionality
  • High Performance integrated TCP/IP Off load Engine (TOE) Technology available
  • Choice of Ultra 160 SCSI controller or 2Gb Fibre Channel connectivity for tape backup
  • Configurable with 73.4GB or 146.8GB HDDs
  • Scalable from 220GB to 7TB of storage

There are three SAN (storage network array) clusters each implemented using IBM 5194 NAS model 25T Towers with 72Gb disks for a total of 1.4TB of RAID supported storage at about $41,000 each, pre-installation.

Thus, overall, the average cost per installed machine is $44,879.

In addition there are two racks (24 units each) of IBM x220 servers running OS/2 WARP and functioning as communications interfaces to the zSeries hosts. These cost around $195,000 per rack.

Some notes:

  1. These excerpts don't (usually) include footnotes and most illustrations have been dropped as simply too hard to insert correctly. (The wordpress html "editor" as used here enables a limited html subset and is implemented to force frustrations like the CPM line delimiters from MS-DOS).

  2. The feedback I'm looking for is what you guys do best: call me on mistakes, add thoughts/corrections on stuff I've missed or gotten wrong, and generally help make the thing better.

    Notice that getting the facts right is particularly important for BIT - and that the length of the thing plus the complexity of the terminology and ideas introduced suggest that any explanatory anecdotes anyone may want to contribute could be valuable.

  3. When I make changes suggested in the comments, I make those changes only in the original, not in the excerpts reproduced here.

Editorial standards