Hewlett Packard MicroServer Review

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Time again for some disclosure. In the spring I was attending SMBNation when I got snatched from the evening beerfest, literally being tugged by the back of my shirt and a “you need to go to this dinner now. But I already ate! You need to go to this dinner now.” OK, so I went. Far be it from me to miss an opportunity. At this meal we discussed SBS Aurora, how it was designed for smaller companies than traditional SBS, how the influence of the cloud was going to change on premise hardware and we brainstormed what this future hardware might look like. Fast forward about 5 months and a box arrived at my office. HP sent me one of the units we dreamed up that night hoping I would like it. How cool is that?

Now I’m not much of a hardware geek. I don’t keep up with motherboard and processor models. I don’t do performance testing. I trust that my hardware manufacturer has engineered a good box and I outfit it with enough memory, drive space and redundancy to match my clients need. That’s my level of hardware expertise. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

So first thing first: Is it sexy? No way. This is one of the ugliest desktop boxes you’ve seen in a long time. It’s close to square and flat black. The only light is the HP logo. Boring and made to not draw attention. Geeks might think the interior has some appeal. 4 swappable drive bays, RAID0, RAID1, 2 empty PCI slots, 6 USB ports and an external Sata port. It’s heavy but best of all it’s quiet, really quiet like laptop quiet. Ready made to sit IN the office with workers. I would see it sitting on a table next to the network printer in a small office. It’s not pretty but it’s right.

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The official specs are these:

Processor family AMD Athlon™ II 1 Processor cores available 2

Maximum memory 8 GB Memory slots 2 DIMM slots Memory type PC3 DDR3

Expansion slots 1 half-height, half-length PCIe x16 Gen 2, 1 half-height, half-length PCIe x1 Gen 2

Network Controller 1GbE NC107i 1 Port

Maximum drive bays (4) LFF SATA Non-hot plug 3.5-inch SATA
Integrated 4 port SATA RAID

The unit I was sent has two 1TB drives and 8GB of ram. I think that might represent a pretty typical configuration for small company. I’m thinking of this box as a good one for say a 10 user company running Aurora and subscribing to BPOS or another hosted Exchange product. Information worker type company – small accounting, insurance, financial service, legal, engineering, property management, construction, etc. It would be enough to take advantage of the PC backup feature in SBS Aurora and run a small LOB, host a printer and store some files. I think it’s going to fit the bill for a lot of small companies.

So what am I running on it right now? I’ve got SBS Aurora RC0, GFI MAX (for monitoring) and GFI Vipre (for anti-virus). Runs like a champ. I might just keep this baby in production in my office as our new server. I’m tired of listening to fans hum and right now with this server sitting on the table next to me the fan in my laptop is louder. I like that and so will be very small business clients.

I see this server deployed with SBS Aurora, GFI MAX, GFI Vipre, a PCI card and an external High-Rely sata for backup. I’ve got the GFI software loaded on it now and I’m fine tuning MAX to get the best monitoring situation. I’ll post more on what I’ve decided upon for monitoring, Aurora add-in’s and backup later.


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