Requirements for a server

A server is a powerful, central network computer. It makes its resources available to other computers. Functional and infrastructural network services are realized via the server.

Data that must be accessed by several people can be stored here.

However, the term server has a double meaning. One must distinguish between two different server definitions:

Requirements for a server

Hardware vs. Software

Definition server hardware

A hardware server refers to a computer that makes its resources available over a network. The server is a computer that is integrated into a computer network. A hardware server runs one or more software-based servers in addition to the operating system. Often, a hardware-based server is also referred to as a “host”.

Definition server software

A software-based server is a program that provides a special service. This service is used by other programs – also called clients – locally or via a network.

Servers are often the most powerful computers in a network. Thus, they have large hard disk capacities and a fast central processing unit (CPU).

In principle, servers can either operate in a closed (corporate) network or be accessible via the Internet.

Definition server software

Choice of hardware

The purchase of an own server on dedicated hardware requires certain expertise. It is important to know exactly which requirements it should meet. The choice of hardware is determined by the operating system, the services,and the software applications that are to be used on the central computer:

Operating system

Linux, Unix, or Windows? An important element for the server requirement is the operating system. Linux requires significantly fewer resources than all conventional Windows systems. UNIX is considered to be more extensive than Linux but is also significantly below the Microsoft platform in this respect.

The operating systems continuously access the hardware. With every process action, access to the main memory or hard disks is possible, among other things. Especially with Windows systems, the use of SSD disks for the operating system sometimes makes sense because they offer an enormous performance gain compared to conventional hard disks.

Server services

Operating systems can be assigned certain services. This significantly increases access to many hardware resources. Network services such as the DNS server, for example, are responsible for greater use of the network cards.

Software applications

Applications installed on the service computer make all the difference. Especially back-office applications such as web, e-mail or SQL servers can bring extensive additional hardware requirements.

Server structure and requirements

The structure of a server consists of:

  • Graphics adapter: A graphics adapter, also called a video card or video expansion card, is a type of hardware that is installed in an existing computer to output a visual image, usually on a monitor or projector.
  • Network adapter: Via a network card, technical devices such as computers and laptops connect permanently to a network and they also exchange data via it.
  • Main memory (RAM): Random Access Memory (RAM) is the short-term memory of a computer. It is an extremely fast and temporary data storage space that a computer needs to access immediately.
  • CPU with heat pipe: The CPU is the main processor and is located inside the computer. Since the processor heats up a lot, it has to be cooled via a fan or other cooling system.
  • Power supply: The power supply works to convert the power from the source into the correct format and voltage.
  • Fan: Fans are used for cooling servers.
  • RAID hard disk: A disk array for an operating system is a virtual disk technology that combines multiple physical drives into one unit.
  • RAID controller: A disk array controller is a device that manages the physical hard disks and presents them to the computer as logical units.

Server hardware requirements:

  • Data acquisition, processing, and storage
  • Connectivity
  • Power supply
  • IT security
  • Physical security
  • Availability

1. Data acquisition, processing, and storage

The amount of data stored on a machine depends largely on how often the endpoint connects to transfer the data to downstream processes. Where the data is ultimately processed depends largely on the intended use. One of the most important is predictive maintenance. Here, sensor data is used to predict when a failure of parts in the production chain is imminent. It makes sense to keep the necessary computing power for the algorithms close to production as well, which may require very powerful servers.

2. Connectivity

Connectivity requirements for the network include how far the signal must be transmitted and the projected rate and volume of data to be transmitted. The server hardware may have built-in wireless communications or may need to be supplemented with a module or card.

3. IT security

Security is very important and must be considered at every stage of development and design. You need them to communicate with each other and also with the company, usually over a long distance. Therefore, you have to secure the system, the communication and the data. Hardening the network is important. Also, enough main memory and power are needed to encrypt and decrypt data at the speed it is sent and received.

4. Physical security

When it comes to security, there are also physical aspects to consider. Access protection, fire protection, and protection against water damage are the obvious points here. Depending on the environment, however, more “exotic” protection goals such as explosion protection or acid protection can also be added.

5. Availability

For a high availability requirement, you usually need at least two servers so that if one fails, the other server takes over data collection and there is little or no data loss. Aside from that, the servers should be configured with redundant power and, if necessary, hot-swappable redundant storage. This is important to ensure that a simple hard disk failure or power supply failure does not cause the controlled machine to fail completely, possibly paralyzing the entire production chain.

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