HP last week launched a new entry-level HP Proliant MicroServer that the company says it designed for offices with 10 or fewer people. Released as part of a portfolio of products called Just Right IT, the MicroServer is powered by an AMD Athlon II chip operating at 1.3GHz, supports up to 8GB of DDR3 memory via two memory slots.
Compared to a standard server, the MicroServer generates half the noise and uses 150W less energy. In fact, its small size-10.5 x 10.2 x 8.3 inches (26.7 x 26 x 21 cm)-makes it a compact alternative to a traditional blade or rack server. Shedding some light on the design decisions, McLeod Glass, director of marketing in HP's Industry Standard Servers and Software group said the MicroServer is small enough to fit on or under a desk.
Other important specifications of the HP MicroServer would be the presence of four SATA drive bays, a SATA disk controller with RAID 1 support (No RAID 5 or RAID 6) and two PCI-Express slots, one at x1 and one at x16. In addition, the MicroServer has a Gigabit Ethernet connector, six external USB ports and one eSATA port.
John Fruehe, AMD's director of product marketing for AMD server and workstation products summed some of the key attributes of the MicroServer in a company blog post:
The HP Proliant MicroServer is designed for small businesses operating on a tight budget and watching where every dollar goes... Quiet operation might not seem as intuitive, but in a really small office with a handful of employees, you don't want a jet engine, you want something quiet (and power efficient and that doesn't take up much space.)
I can certainly identify with the need for quiet IT hardware for branch offices or small companies that do not have the space for a properly segregated server room. I work a lot from my home office, and let's just say that some of the networked equipment that ends up on my test rig isn't designed to be placed in the middle of an office. Indeed, the perpetual whine of a fan can drive some folks up the wall - or perhaps compel them to just switch it off.
Overall, the HP MicroServer redefines what a low-end server entails, yet at the same time still manages to meet the sweet spot in terms of the hardware requirements of SMBs. HP clearly has its eye on the businesses around the world that have yet to buy their first server, and I dare say that the MicroServer looks adequate for many businesses.
The MicroServer is available worldwide and costs just US$329 for an entry-level model, though this configuration only gives you 1GB of memory with no storage disk - not a very useful configuration. Available operating systems are Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. HP declined to comment on whether Intel-based MicroServers will be released in the future