Jeff Schneider

IT planners and product designers are looking at products and data centers in new ways. They are exploring ideas such as a rack containing separate chassis for CPU, memory and storage in hyper-scale computing, or choosing best-of-breed solutions for each tier of an enterprise network. The reasons for exploring these ideas revolve around increasing flexibility in the infrastructure and reducing costs. Generically, this is called disaggregation. Does it make sense to disaggregate your mainstream server? The rate of technology change continues to accelerate. This means adding new capabilities into IT Infrastructures to support new strategic directions. However, integrating these new capabilities into the existing infrastructure can present challenges or missed opportunities. Many times existing servers cannot take full advantage of new technologies. Embedded NICs can’t utilize the maximum throughput speed of a new switch, for instance. Perhaps it’s as simple as the fast new drives aren’t compatible with the drive bays. When it is possible to upgrade using PCIe cards or a similar option, you may still give up manageability or strand the onboard components. When choosing servers in today’s world, it makes sense to find servers that can evolve with your infrastructure, without wasting resources or requiring you to buy extra capacity that may never be utilized. Disaggregation of key components may offer a better solution. For more...

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According to the Columbus Motor Speedway, in 1957, Jim Cushman decimated the field of sprint car drivers. He added a large wing to his car so he could go around corners much faster by keeping the wheels on the ground. Some would say that he had an unfair advantage. There are a few things I like about this story. First, Cushman believed in finding a better way – and did. Second, he started with a great base, and made it better. Third, his improvements involved a small investment compared to the cost of the overall solution, and paid off big. Let’s be honest here. Wouldn’t we all like to have an unfair advantage from time to time when it really counts? Principled Technologies, Inc. (PT) recently published a paper showing how you can get your own unfair advantage in a Microsoft Exchange Server environment. In this study, PT tested a Lenovo ThinkServer RD540 and a Lenovo ThinkServer SA120 direct-attached storage array to determine the maximum number of mailbox users the platform could support. The answer was an impressive 3,800 users — a very solid base — just like the car that Cushman started with. For the next step, PT tested the “unfair advantage”. By...

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