Servers Product of the Year 2000

Compaq DL 380 Captures the Crown


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High reliability, capacity, easy installation, and lower cost of ownership (TCO) steered voters to select the ProLiant Model DL 380 in Datamation's Product of the Year 2000 Server category. The ProLiant DL 380, from Compaq Computer Corp. of Houston, captured nearly 30 percent of the votes cast, or 71 votes.

Placing a close second, with 27 percent, or 66 votes, was the Netra T1 server from Sun Microsystems Inc., Palo Alto, Calif. The Netra T1 ships with the Ultra-SPARC IIi processor and supports hot-swap media. The third-place choice at 16 percent of the total, or 39 votes, was the Intel-based eServer xSeries 330 from IBM Corp.

Compaq's DL 380 embraces many features typical of high-end, Intel-based systems. Its fault tolerant components include hot-swap drives, an integrated RAID controller, redundant hot-swap power supplies, and error checking/correcting (ECC) memory. The system provides dual Pentium III processors of varying speeds, capacity for up to 4 GB of RAM, and internal support for 145 GB of storage in a rack-mountable 3U form-factor chassis.

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Users says those features gave the DL 380 the nod this year. For instance, American Student Assistant is the sixth largest guarantor of student loans in the nation, with over $700 million in loans last year. The, Boston-based firm requires high reliability from its servers. Faced with waning Windows NT support for their older Compaq DEC Alpha systems, Michael Russo, data center manager at ASA, decided to take advantage of a Compaq buyback program to purchase his first Compaq servers, the model DL 580.

"We were so impressed with the way they built the hardware, hot swap power, hot swap CPU, hot swap disk drives,'' Russo recalls, "we decided to look at the DL 380 for its class of CPU and all of the redundancy we look for."

ASA runs three-tier client-server architecture to manage all of its accounts. The production department runs an in-house developed NT application on DL 380s in the middle tier, which demands 24x7x365 support from its hardware. All of the fault tolerant features were certainly critical, but performance was also an important factor. "The DL 380s are a real screamer," says Russo.

Ease-of-configuration also earned praise from Russo. Rather than work with a systems integrator, Russo's staff of eight system administrators and 10 computer operators configures and installs all of their systems. "These things are unbelievably easy to work on," says Russo. He says configuration and installation are easy to set up because the vendor color codes cables and connectors, and the logical component layout.

Notably absent from their experience have been any struggles when adding processors, memory or disk drives, he says. "Everything is color-coded and you don't have to deal with weird angles and knuckle banging operations to get things installed," Russo says.

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