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NEC Servers Buyer’s Guide

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It’s been two years since ServerWatch covered NEC in a server Buyer’s Guide. So what’s the biggest change over that time?

The introduction of gen six of NEC’s scalable, fault-tolerant server helped make 2010 its best year in the IT Platform business in the United States in half a decade. See what the server hardware vendor has to offer.

Mike Mitsch, Managing Director for the IT platform Group at NEC Corporation of America, said the company has taken a more strategic approach in the U.S. market.

“NEC has unique and competitive advantages in the field of highly scalable and highly available server technologies with our eight-socket x7500 partition-able server and innovative Fault Tolerant capabilities made possible through lockstep technology and Machine Check Architecture,” he said.

Two years back, NEC had all kinds of naming conventions. These days, everything is labeled Express5800. Within that broad category, however, there are four distinct server lines.

Fault Tolerant

In the Fault Tolerant (FT) category, NEC offers one model — the Express5800/320. This is a product family for organizations running applications for which uptime is of the utmost importance. According to Mitsch, the server delivers continuous uptime (99.999 percent availability) through a patented and fully redundant modular architecture that supports VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Windows Server 2008R2 as well as Red Hat Linux. The main clients tend to be: hosting providers and data centers seeking the absolute highest level of availability in the VMware environment for virtualized workloads that require scalable virtual CPU performance; branch offices (e.g., clinics and hotels) that have chosen to deploy virtualization outside of the data center and require a cost-effective and simple high-availability solution; and solution providers that must deliver high availability virtualized appliances.

Enterprise Server Line

The NEC Express5800/1000 series of enterprise servers, on the other hand, is a scalable IT platform environment accommodating up to 2 TB of memory and 128 threads with modular in-box partitioning — and all within a 7U chassis. “Clients that purchase this system include enterprise accounts that are seeking to scale their database system for the highest transaction workloads, or consolidate SQL workloads or other workloads through advanced partitioning or virtualization from Microsoft or VMware,” said Mitsch.

Three models are available. The Express5800/A1080a (GX) is aimed at configuration flexibility, capacity, reliability and availability features, and high performance via the Xeon 7500 series (Nehalem-EX). The NEC Express5800/A1160 (MX) has been designed for the Xeon 7440 (4-core) and 7460 (6-core) processors for consolidation and reliability. The NEC Express5800/1320Xf uses Intel Itanium processors and NEC’s A3 (A cubed) chipset to provide dynamic hardware partitioning.

NEC Blades

The NEC Express Series Sigma H and M Series use a traditional chassis design in common with major OEMs. A 10U 16-blade or 6U 8-blade chassis are available. NEC also supplies diskless blades such as the 5800/120Bb-d6 designed for virtualization solutions.

“With memory capacity of 48GB per blade, up to six I/O GbitE ports and two Fibre Channel ports, at a lower cost than a standard blade, it is the ideal blade for virtualization solutions at the lowest possible cost,” said Mitsch. “Clients that purchase this system include hospitals, hotels and other solution providers.”

Rackmount Servers

The NEC Express5800/R120 Series is a two-socket server based on an energy efficiency. It is packaged in 1U and 2U form factors. Users that purchase this system include solutions providers that require a low cost, simple platform that is reliable and where NEC can pre-load software and deliver an appliance solution, added Mitsch.

Good Year

Mitsch pointed out that 2010 was NEC’s best year in the IT Platform business in the United States in half a decade. The introduction of the sixth-generation R320a FT Series, in particular, has boosted sales, as it offers a scalable fault-tolerant performance for VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. According to Mitsch, a “No RiskTry-N-Buy program” has 100 percent customer adoption.

“The FT Series is one of the fastest growing product segments for NEC in North America,” he said. “Customers that evaluate this system realize the value in availability and simplicity, as well as CAPEX and OPEX savings.”

Market traction has been gained, too, with the introduction of the company’s fifth-generation A1080 Enterprise Series. NEC was actually first to market with Intel’s x7500 Series in a four- and eight-socket design.

“We are the only vendor to deliver this in a package that allows us to place eight sockets in a partitionable chassis with advanced reliability features and a full complement of internal storage,” he added.

NEC has also been working on upgraded customer service. Its FT and Machine Check architecture captures alerts and enables the company to proactively take action before clients experience outage. A no-questions asked pre-failure warranty is now standard with FT and Enterprise Servers (i.e., if a component is intermittent, the part is identified, communicated and replaced with no questions asked.)

NEC Servers at a Glance

Enterprise Servers Fault Tolerant Servers Blade Servers Rack Servers
Target Deployment Express5800/1000 Series enterprise servers address mission-critical operations. The NEC Express5800/1000 Series of servers are suited to consolidation, database, virtualization and performance-hungry business applications. NEC Fault Tolerant (FT) servers address planned and unplanned downtime for key applications. The Express5800/300 series servers deliver continuous uptime through redundant modular hardware featuring quad-core and 6-core Intel Xeon processors. These servers provide continuous availability through hardware redundancy in all components: CPU, memory, motherboards, I/O, hard disk drives and cooling fans. NEC Express5800 Sigma Blade server systems contain server, storage and network components in a cost-effective design. The management of blade servers is easier than traditional rack-mount servers; the density is greater and the power consumption lower NEC Express5800/100 Series Servers allow multiple servers stacked one above the other, which consolidates network resources and minimizes floor space requirements. Rack server configurations also simplify cabling among network components.
Operating Systems Microsoft Windows, Red Hat Linux and SUSE Linux Microsoft Windows, VMware and Red Hat Linux Microsoft Windows, Red Hat Linux and VMware ESX Microsoft Windows, Red Hat Linux and VMware ESX
Servers Express5800/A1080a
Express5800/R320 SIGMABLADE/B120a
Entry Price 29,000 $17,000 $2,210 $2,890

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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