PowerEdge R720 Runs With Fresh-Air Cooling

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2012-08-02 Print this article Print


Like Dell€™s competitors, nearly all the leaps in 2U server capacity have nearly everything to do with advances in power throttling technology that comes with Intel€™s processors, and by pushing up power supply efficiencies. Dell and other system makers finish this work by making extensive use of internal baffles to force airflow over components and out of the system.

Although we did not test a fresh-air system, it is possible to order PowerEdge R720 configurations that can be cooled€”at least part time€”with fresh air. IT managers who are attempting to squeeze every possible efficiency out of their data center power bill should evaluate the Dell fresh-air systems to determine if the configurations will work with the expected workloads.

Dell, HP, Cisco and other server manufacturers predictably laud their own management systems and pooh-pooh those of their competitors. Based on my testing, here are the salient points that IT managers should consider.

While Dell€™s SNMP and other system management messages may be a bit cryptic, they are uniform (in all 12th-generation rack-mount, blade and standalone configurations) across all systems. As mentioned earlier, there is an HP server emulation mode, and the integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) 7 Lifecycle management card costs $399.

Management systems, along with memory and processor choices can significantly affect the cost of data center servers. Dell€™s iDRAC 7 comes in two flavors although most IT managers will likely find the Express version meets their needs.

When it comes to operations, the PowerEdge R720 was a breeze. The rack-mounting system is easy to install and the front bezel comes off in order to service the PCIeSSD cache drives. In nearly every other respect, the PowerEdge R720 is virtually indistinguishable from other 2U competitor systems in terms of layout and access.

One exception is the Dell Quick Resource Locator (QRL) code that is tagged on the system chassis. The tag is a model-specific Quick Response (QR) code that is located on the server. I was able to use an app on a test Samsung Galaxy S III Android phone to gain access to Dell information about the server. This was marginally faster than using the Dell service code to look up the same information via a browser. But it was a nice use of technology to improve field personnel accuracy when servicing an R720 system.

Click here to view eWEEK Labs' slide show of the PowerEdge R720.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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