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How rugged servers reduce TCO, downtime

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By Dmitry Sheynin

There’s nothing worse than finally getting your server up and running just as a mortar round lands nearby, sending shock waves that wreck your hard drive and bring everything to a screeching halt. Or just as bad, when you’ve set up a micro-data center in the middle of a desert and everything seems to be working fine until sand and dust infiltrate a couple of very expensive components and start wreaking havoc inside.

Granted, these are extreme scenarios, but users deploy solutions in some of the most unforgiving environments imaginable, so while we all hope for the best, rugged servers are engineered for the worst. But companies don’t just assemble these systems with disaster in mind — they’re also engineered around your bottom line, delivering a low total cost of ownership.

The hidden costs of server downtime

Any server is a long-term investment, so the hidden cost of using it over time needs to be figured in.

“Hidden costs beyond basic runtime and maintenance are inherent in harsh conditions, because components wear out quickly, and downtime becomes the norm rather than the exception,” Christian Perry, principal analyst and practice manager data center for Technology Business Research, told Power More. “If you’re deploying standard, non-rugged servers in a harsh environment, you’ll inevitably face far more component replacement and production loss than you would if you deployed hardened servers that can withstand the rigors.”

One of the biggest mistakes data center operators can make is underestimating the cost of downtime, which can run up to a staggering $7,900 per minute, according to the Ponemon Institute. But best-in-class TCO for rugged servers isn’t just about the downtime you’ll avoid or the components you won’t need to replace; rugged servers from companies such as Dell enable organizations to deploy solutions in places they simply wouldn’t be able to go otherwise, opening up potential new revenue streams.

“More broadly, rugged systems allow organizations to utilize and gain the benefits of computing technologies in circumstances where they were previously unavailable or difficult to obtain,” said Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT.

Durable for harsh environments

Products such as the Dell PowerEdge R420xr offer a compact size that “allows these servers to be leveraged in a variety of mobile use cases that would confound traditional systems,” King added.

It’s no surprise then that the engineering that went into creating rugged products has resulted in not just a tough and durable server for harsh environments, but an innovative IT solution that’ll be the workhorse of any data center.

“We have implemented a program of using these servers both where we need rugged equipment and also where we only need standard equipment,” said Russ Nestor, Active Directory specialist for Airbus Defence and Space. “We are happy to install in place of a normal server in a server room because they are still just as powerful as something twice the size.”

Working with a partner such as Dell OEM Solutions enables companies such as Airbus to gain support for its product requirements. It also provides the software, services and OEM-specific programs that help with rugged server deployment, such as a three-year life cycle with extended support options.

Off-the-shelf solutions will help to lower the costs of deploying a rugged server such as the R420xr, according to Nestor.

“We have a push to move toward off-the-shelf products to keep costs down, and having a manufacturer to work with that can provide all of the products we need makes life much easier,” he said.

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