HP’s new ProLiant Microserver Gen 8 is designed to fit into an office environment, not a data center, but it’s still powerful, fully manageable and ready to bring big-server capabilities to smaller businesses or remote offices. Oh—and it comes in multiple colors.
The HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8 rests quietly on its table, a blue glow emanating from below as if it were an alien visitor to our planet. At least that’s what it looks like from the front—a 9.5-inch cube with black and silver panels that’s featureless except for cooling vents and logos—and that otherworldly glow. But behind that mysterious face is a capable and fast server designed from the ground up as an office-friendly resource.
HP designed this server for quiet running by equipping it with an efficient Intel Celeron G1610T processor that generates little heat and thus does not require a noisy cooling fan. An Intel Pentium G2020T processor is available as an option. While the power supply does require a fan, the demand is so low that the server is virtually silent in operation. Inside, the server can be equipped with up to 12 terabytes of non-hot plug SATA drives as well as a single DVD drive. None of the drives is included at the base price of $549. Fully configured, this server can sell for as much as $1,509.
Normally we don’t discuss the base price of a server when we’re reviewing it, but in this case, the affordable pricing is a major feature of the ProLiant Microserver. Unlike its larger siblings, the Microserver is aimed at small and midsize businesses where HP is competing against a range of small servers that do compete on price. Considering what you get with the ProLiant Microserver, it looks like a good value for SMB customers.
An example of a competing unit would be the microservers sold by Buffalo Technologies, which sells similar servers that save money by using embedded Linux as the operating system. However those devices can only be used as NAS (network attached storage), and not as a full network server. The ProLiant Microserver can operate with Microsoft Windows Server, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. All three are credible, secure operating systems that work seamlessly as part of a data center if necessary.
The Microserver in this test came equipped with four 500GB SATA drives and Microsoft Windows Server 2012. The nearly 2TB of storage was configured as RAID 0, which means there’s no redundancy, and the data is striped across all disks to improve performance. You can also separate the drives into a RAID 1 or RAID 10 configuration. A more secure RAID 5 configuration is available through an optional upgrade to the drive controller.
New HP ProLiant Microserver Is Fast, Small and SMB Friendly
If it looks to you like just about everything on this server is optional, you’re right. That base price includes only the server hardware itself. If you want storage, you pay extra. This, by the way, is how servers are normally sold. But the microserver competition generally sells its servers with the disks already installed. HP will sell them that way as well, but they cost extra, as does the OS.
HP designed the ProLiant Microserver Gen 8 so that likely buyers can set them up on their own. HP’s new Intelligent Provisioning, which brings the server to life, is built in and it walks you through the setup, system configuration and deployment of the server in minutes.
The Smart Start DVD stacks of old are no longer needed. Management has become easier as well with HP’s ILO (integrated lights-out) management software that allows remote management and operation of the server. Even better, ILO has become intuitive, and it’s easy to use from either a browser on another computer or by using an application on the Microserver itself.
The PS1810 Gigabit Ethernet switch integrates with ILO to provide a single view of the health and operation of both devices. The PS1810 Switch is designed to fit into a shallow depression on the top of the Microserver, giving it the look of a single unit. However, by the time you connect Ethernet cables to all eight ports, and then connect the external power supply, you have enough cables hanging out the back of this assemblage to require cable management, which is not included. Because of this, keeping the switch planted firmly on top of the Microserver is problematic. Your best bet is to get a couple of strips of Velcro at Wal-Mart to stick the units together.
The HP ProLiant Microserver is clearly designed to be visually attractive and as servers go it does look nice. But just in case black and silver aren’t your idea of cool office décor, you can also order the front door of the server in other colors. I can’t see that this is an important feature despite the hype from HP, but perhaps you can use this as a way to buy a spare door and have your graphics department paint a logo on it.
Even without the attempt at visual appeal, this server is well thought out with its tool free design its speed and its reduced impact on the workplace. This is an ideal server for small businesses that need more than a NAS server can give them. It’s fast and efficient, and if you pick the right options, the HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8 is a good, secure and effective solution.