Server Hardware

What is Server Hardware?

Server hardware is responsible for running applications or workloads and processing data.

Similar to a standard home or office computer, the key components of server hardware include the motherboard, processor, random access memory (RAM) and storage.

It is typically several orders of magnitude faster and more powerful than a standard home or office computer.

In the modern data center, while server hardware is still required, through the use of virtualization organizations can dramatically increase server hardware resource utilization and offer the ability to consolidate IT resources by implementing multiple virtual machines (VMs) servers onto a single physical server.

There are four major types of servers:

  1. Rack Servers
  2. Blade Servers
  3. Tower Servers
  4. Mainframes

Rack Servers

A rack server, commonly referred to as a rack-mounted server, is a standard-size computer designed to be mounted in a server rack along with other rack servers or standard-size components, such as network or storage area network devices.

This is a general-purpose machine supporting a wide range of workloads.

Rack servers take up less space than tower servers since they’re not encased in bulky cabinets and can stack them in a single rack. It is easy to add or replace servers if one should malfunction.

The design makes it simple to add components gradually for growing workloads and servers in the same rack don’t have to be the same model or vendor.

Blade Servers

Blade servers are chassis-based servers like rack servers, but the more stripped-down design allows for even more space efficiency than rack servers.

They offer the additional benefits of more processing power and ease of cable management as they are thin dedicated server boards that each have individual processing power, memory capacity and a simple modular design.

Tower Servers

Tower servers are singular computers with the dedicated purpose of a server – they are housed in a standalone upright cabinet, or “tower”, much like the tower of a personal desktop computer.

They are easier to cool and offer a lower component density. One other important thing to note about tower servers is they are relatively inexpensive.


While mainframes seemed like they would be phased out in the 90s they still provide the ability to support large volumes of simultaneous transactions and heavy I/O loads without taking a performance hit.

They typically are used by financial services firms that have many concurrent, real-time transactions.

Mainframes are the biggest option and carry the highest cost.

Why use Server Hardware?

Any organization that supports more than a handful of applications and workloads can benefit from different types of server hardware.

Servers are an essential part of carrying out business and processing and protecting sensitive data and resources.

Companies may need to purchase servers when they set up new data centers, expand or update existing ones, open satellite offices, or spin up development projects.

Servers allow the enterprise to consolidate resources by making it possible to share printers, disk drives, and applications with network users for example.

Server hardware is uniquely equipped to manage resources and deliver them securely across the network.

Servers can also lead to greater productivity because resources are centralized, which allows workers to easily share data with their colleagues.

Additionally, through the added functionality of virtualization a single server can support multiple applications and workloads  with differing requirements simultaneously.