Low Cost Server Hardware

white box server vendors (low cost servers)

Intel [is] Inside White Box Servers, too!

Before we dive into our list of 7 server hardware alternatives, let’s start with an important thought.


Google and Amazon are building their clouds on customized server platforms that have motherboards, disk drives, and backup batteries in open enclosures instead of fancy name brand cases with cool face-plates and someone’s logo.

What does this mean for you?

It means this.

I’m not saying we should all build our own servers but do we need most of the feature we’re buying?

Sure if you want whistles and bells [which you may never have time to properly set up because your Ops team is too busy working on day-to-day or projects] then Buy UCS or another top brand.

On the other hand, if all you need is compute that can be swapped out when something dies, then are white box servers good enough?

DIY vs Name Brand vs White Box Servers

Before we’re done with this VMinstall Server Guide I’m going to provide a list of brand name server manufactures, hardware parts depots for open compute projects, and white box server alternatives you can use to source your next project.

Chips are chips…

Intel makes their money on chips, and they pretty much they sell the same chips to everyone.

Yes, I know not all hardware is made the same…but that’s why we build clusters and clouds that can do vMotion, Live Motion, or XenMotion.

cheap used serversAh, benefits of modern technology!

Unless you’re NASA and lives depend on the chips in your servers, you should consider lower cost server hardware alternatives.

Quick Video About The Open Compute Project at Facebook

It doesn’t need to be pretty! It doesn’t need to be painted! It doesn’t need to have plastic bezels that guide airflow around! – Johathan Heiliger

And here are a couple more reasons to consider open compute…

If your hardware architects have done their job and built-in room for failure (n + ?), and your software architect has designed your app to work across multiple servers in an App pool (preferably each on a different host), then you can take an outage on a VM, disk, motherboard, NIC, switch, load balancer or host, and your app will still be online.

Now granted, depending on the sophistication of your App some users may get bounced out, but that’s a fixable problem. And these problems can be solved with code instead of throwing more costly hardware at them.


Let’s get to what brought you here. Server hardware alternatives for building clouds.

Best of Brand Server Options:

1. IBM Servers (Now Lenovo) – Long before HP and Dell, IBM was building server and desktop hardware. And over the years I’ve had my share of opportunities for supporting iSeries hardware running AIX, and xSeries running Windows, Linux and VMware. No complaints, however you will pay for the brand and higher quality. Click Here > To View IBM Server Hardware Options

2. HP Servers – Once upon a time there was Compaq, And they were purchased by HP. And now we have HP Proliant servers. HP is another hardware platform I’ve spent a lot of time on. HP rack servers and blades are great for running raw metal servers with Windows and Linux, or for building high density virtualization server infrastructures. I’ve had success with c7000 chassis and BL460 g6/g7 blades, and with DL380 G6/7/8 and DL580 G6/7 running VMware vSphere. The only real problem I recall was managing firmware upgrades and the frustration caused by generation changes. Click Here > To View HP Server Hardware Options

white box server market3. Dell Servers – I’ll be honest. As an alternative to going all the way white box, I would take Dell PowerEdge server hardware all day long. Why? Because Dell makes great general purpose servers that can do it all. And pound for pound Dell servers are as good as IBM and HP. Another value-add is Dell has a sweat spot for lower TCO when building a vSphere clouds over other top brands. Click Here > To View Dell Server Hardware

4. Cisco UCS – If you have a Cisco network, I can bet your network team is running a rogue Cisco UCS POC right under your noise. How can I say such a thing? Because I’ve seen it happen in 3 places I’ve worked. Cisco is notorious for giving away UCS chassis and blades in an effort to seed businesses with their server hardware. The problem I see here is long-term cost will go up, and you will find yourself refereeing network and server teams that both feel they own the UCS platform. My Beef here is I’m opposed to vendor LOCK-IN, and Cisco is at the top of the list. Click Here > To View Cisco UCS Servers hardware

If you’re hosting your applications in the cloud, chances are you’re running on white box hardware or a Franken-Server similar to what’s in the picture above!

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