There are three different form factors for servers that an organization can choose from to run their applications. Which type of server the organization uses depends on the requirements of their environment as well as the application. Since not everyone is familiar with the many ways that the server form factors vary, we thought we would help clarify which form factor is right for you.
Tower Servers – Tower servers are typically the most affordable option when it comes to the initial purchase. However, tower servers take up a lot of space, they generate more heat, and they cost more to power. The “get your feet wet” kind of server, tower servers are best-suited for small organizations or the remote offices of medium to large organizations.
Rack Servers – Rack servers are designed to fit into a datacenter rack enclosure, which is typically 10U high. Rack servers vary in form factor, ranging from 1U to 4U servers so that the datacenter rack enclosure can be filled with up to 42 rack severs. So as you can see, you can easily accommodate spacing concern with these servers. Rack servers also are self-contained, and have their own power supplies, fans and NIC’s. Rack servers are a good fit for many different environments.
Blade Servers – Blade servers (or server blades) also fit within a datacenter rack enclosure; however, they must first be housed within a blade enclosure that supplies their power, cooling and connectivity. Blade servers come in half or full-height form factors and up to 16 servers can be housed within a blade enclosure. Since 4 blade enclosures can be housed in a datacenter rack enclosure, up to 64 blade servers can fit in a datacenter rack enclosure. This makes blade servers the clear winner when it comes to density, so they are a great fit in environments with space concerns.
So as you can see, there are many differences between the three form factors. The key is which one is the right fit for your environment and requirements. If cost is your main concern, consider a tower server, or a refurbished rack or blade server option. If performance and space are concerns, turn to rack or blade servers over tower servers. And if flexibility, performance AND long-term cost containment are concerns, turn to blade servers over both rack and tower servers.