Network servers control and manage network resources such as files, printers, users, groups, etc. Servers are classified according to the service they provide to the network. File servers are used to store files; print servers control one or more printers; network servers control network traffic and access. General server specifications and processor specifications are the most important parameters to consider when selecting network servers. Additional specifications to consider include memory and storage, connectivity, operating systems supported, and features.
General specifications that should be considered when selecting network servers include server type and form factor. Choices for server type include network servers, applications or file servers, printer servers, web servers, proxy servers, and SAN servers. File servers are nothing more than computers that store various files and documents. These types of servers do very little processing and do not need to be high speed (high MHz) or contain massive amounts of RAM. Application servers are similar to file servers, except they house applications that are run directly from them. Since the PC is doing all the work, these servers can be low-end as well. Print servers are central computers that manage networked printers from a single location. They are setup with multiple printers that are shared for the end users to access. Web servers transfer content over the Internet using the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). Proxy servers allow users to access outside networks such as the Internet, without disturbing the internal network. SAN servers controls or is part of a Storage Area Network (SAN). SAN is a high-speed subnetwork of shared storage devices. Choices for form factor include rack mounted, desktop or tower, and portable.
Important processor specifications to consider when searching for network servers include processor or CPU type, processor speed, and supported processors. The processor speed is the number of operations per second (expressed in MHz) that the processor can accomplish. Supported processors refer to the maximum number of processors supported by the server.
Memory and storage specifications to consider when selecting network servers include supported RAM, cache memory (L1 and L2), supported storage, hard drive supported, and RAID support. Connectivity choices for network servers include 10Base-T Ethernet, 10-Base2Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, Token Ring, Fibre Channel, and Fieldbus. I/O ports available include serial, parallel, USB, and IEEE 1394. The number of PCI slots available in the server is also important to consider. The operating systems supported by the network server can be Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft Windows NT, Linux, Novell NetWare, SCO UnixWare, Banyan VINES, Unix, and Mac OS. Common features for network servers include redundant power supplies, redundant fan modules, system management utilities, and operating temperature.
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