The 10 Coolest Servers Of 2016

Pushing Ahead In 2016

While the market for servers has been tough in one respect – revenue and shipments have been down in recent quarters – server technology remains the foundation of IT, and the lynchpin of the burgeoning hyper-convergence market.

2016 saw the merger of Dell and EMC, a union that brings together market-leading hyper-convergence solutions with Dell servers. Before the merger was finalized, EMC execs were eager to get their hands on Dell servers, and soon after the deal closed, it was announced that the red-hot VxRack and VxRail hyper-convergence systems would be based on Dell FX server hardware.

Also in 2016, Lenovo pumped up its ThinkServer to tackle software-defined workloads, HPE has worked its ProLiant line into an appliance that solution providers call a game-changer and Huawei ink a deal to bring SimpliVity hyper-convergence software to its servers.

Click through to see the 10 coolest servers of 2016.

Lenovo System x

The latest offerings in Lenovo System x series line of servers include up to 12 TB of memory and are aimed at mission-critical environments like SAP HANA or Hadoop, as well as large virtualization projects, and big data and analytics workloads. Lenovo refreshed its x3850 and x3950 X6 servers with new versions incorporating Intel Xeon E7-4800 and E7-8800 v4 processors. The company said the new processors are up to 39 percent faster than the previous generation. The servers are built in what Lenovo calls a modular "compute book" design that allows for fast, efficient upgrades and maintenance.

Lenovo ThinkServer

With an eye toward the burgeoning market for software-defined technology, Lenovo this year rolled out the ThinkServer sd350, a dense, 2U, four-node system the company claims can handle four times the customer apps in the same 2U rack space as a traditional server while taking 48 percent less time to deploy. The aim of the sd350 is high efficiency, and Lenovo considers it the company's "next step" in its offerings for software-defined storage and software-defined data centers.

Oracle VM Server For Sparc

The Oracle SuperCluster M7 engineered system is based on Oracle's VM Server for Sparc, Sparc M7 processor, and includes the Solaris operating system and the SuperCluster Management Toolset. The SuperCluster combines compute, networking and storage hardware with virtualization, operating system and management software in a complete, high-performance cloud infrastructure. The solution incorporates advanced processor-level security features, and works in a range of high-performance workload environments, from traditional ERP, CRM and data warehousing to e-commerce, mobile applications and real-time analytics.

HPE ProLiant Easy Connect EC200a

The latest versions of HPE's ninth-generation ProLiant DL360 includes new management, security and storage capabilities aimed at helping customers tie on-premise data center infrastructure to the cloud for running mission-critical applications. The new features were introduced earlier this year and go hand-in-hand with updates to the ProLiant Gen9 server portfolio with the introduction of Intel's newest Broadwell processor, as well as HPE's new persistent memory technology, which allows the server's memory to serve as a high-performance storage tier.

Huawei FusionServer

Huawei's Fusion Server is propelled into "cool" territory by its association with one of the darlings of the red-hot hyper-convergence market. Late in the year, Huawei struck a deal with hyper-converged software start-up SimpliVity. The deal allows SimpliVity to offer its all-flash OmniStack hyper-convergence technology on Huawei's FusionServer line in a play for market share in Huawei's primary markets, including growing economies in China, India and South America. The move is in response to demand from customers, as well as partners, according to SimpliVity.

Skyport Systems Ultra Secure Servers

Skyport Systems, a startup focused on building ultra-secure servers, teamed up with a Microsoft-aligned systems integrator to keep hackers from compromising Active Directory authentication controls. Skyport and Ascent Solutions, based in Minneapolis, developed a turnkey implementation that aligns Microsoft's prescriptive model with how infrastructure and architecture work at both the systems level and a human level.

Dell PowerEdge

The 13th generation of the PowerEdge features the new Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors, and Dell claims the update gives the servers a boost in performance between 20 and 30 percent. The PowerEdge R730 also got a new cooling system designed to keep it cool enough to use in the data center. Dell updated the PowerEdge family with support for Intel's latest Broadwell processor, along with several new management and software-defined storage capabilities the company said will help reduce the total cost of server ownership.

Dell DSS 7000

In the immense Dell EMC portfolio, the new Dell DSS 7000 object storage server is at home alongside EMC's ScaleIO, Isilon and Elastic Cloud Storage solutions. The high-capacity server is intended for Red Hat's Ceph 2 open source, software-defined storage platform, and emphasizes Dell's commitment to offering customers a wide variety of product options. It is designed for cloud data centers, putting 90 3.5-inch drives in one 4U chassis, and delivering up to 720 TB of capacity, according to Dell.

HPE Cloudline CL5200

HPE also rolled out some big guns with the introduction of the Cloudline CL5200, designed for object-based storage or un-structured data. The CL5200 offers a modular building block for cloud storage and can handle up to up to 80 hard drives in a 4U chassis and up to 800 TB per chassis. The Before the 5200, the CL line was home to three servers that maxed out at about 72 TB.

Dell FX

The venerable Dell FX line of servers got a boost when it was finally made official that they would be the go-to servers for EMC's red-hot VxRail and VxRack hyper-convergence product lines. For months after the merger of Dell and EMC was announced, the folks at VCE, EMC's converged and hyper-converged division -- were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the FX. The FX is expected to get VxRack and VxRail price points lower and offer more reconfigurability.