For an entry-level server, the ML110 G& scores well on remote management, featuring HP's embedded iLO3 controller as standard. These features make the ML110 G7 well suited to remote sites, and for those worried about downtime added protection can be gained with an option of a dual 460W hot-swappable PSU.
A lockable door conceals access to four HHD bays. The embedded RAID Controller supports striping, mirroring and cold-swap drives. Like so much else in the ML110, this can be upgraded with an HP Smart Array controller.
Initial commissioning is carried out by booting from the bundled SmartStart DVD which provides an assisted installation routine, access to diagnostics and to the RAID array configuration. This and the remote management feature are uncommon at this price-point – it's an astute server choice for small businesses.
7/ IBM System x3100 M4
The System x3100 M4 is IBM's newest entry-level server, the first to feature an Intel Xeon E3 CPU, though a cheaper version is available powered by a dual-core 3.1GHz Core i3. You also get a pair of Gigabit network ports plus four PCI Express slots and the ability to run to 32GB of DDR3 RAM in its four DIMM slots.
The well-built chassis features two 5.25in externally accessible drive bays at the front and behind the front panel lies a four drive HDD cage with power and SATA connectors allowing the drives to be slid in and out, though these are cold and not hot swap operations. However, eight 2.5in hot swappable internal drive bays are available as an option, as are hot swappable power supplies.
RAID functions are provided by IBM's ServerRaid six port SATA controller – RAID 0,1 and 10 are supported but an upgrade to RAID 5 is available.
The server has six USB 2.0 ports plus an internal USB supports a USB tape backup device. It's an IBM server and so benefits from IMM2 remote management and Predictive Failure Analysis on CPU and RAM.
The x3100 M4 is quiet running and sips power which makes it ideal for small office use.
8/ Dell PowerEdge T410 Tower Server
Dell's PowerEdge T410 is a mini-tower server aimed at the entry-level. It has plenty of room for expansion and can be factory installed with either Windows Server 2008 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
It's compact and as result it can just sit on the floor or a desk, it's a good choice if you don't have rack-mount infrastructure. Like the ML110, the T410 runs on an Intel Xeon E5603 CPU (there's a socket for an additional Xeon if you need to upgrade), 2GB of DDR3 RAM and a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Storage options are well catered for: a 500GB SATA drive is standard but there is room for a total of six cold-swap SATA or SAS drives, or, optionally, small form-factor 2.5in drives or hot-swap drives.
RAID is provided courtesy of a Dell SAS 6/iR card.
The T410 has five free PCI Express slots, too. The base system features a simple LED diagnostics panel but a backlit LCD version with more detail is an optional extra. As standard the T410 comes with a fixed 525W power supply, but you can opt for a pair of 580W hot-plug models.
Servers are an essential part of business technology, and the Dell PowerEdge T410 is a safe choice for middle-to-high end server needs. Its ability to be customised makes it scalable to almost any specification, for any business.
High-end blade servers
9/ HP ProLiant BL460c Gen8 Server Blade
If you want the world's best-selling server blade, the BL460c Gen8 is what you're looking for. This 'c-Class' blade is a highly configurable server: it only needs to be wired into a rack once. After that, computing resources can be altered on the fly to dynamically adjust power and cooling. Similarly you can 'virtually' re-wire it via its virtualised Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections.