Poll: Enterprise IT hardware and you

We tend to focus a bit more on the consumer side of the PC hardware business, but there’s a whole other world out there—that of serious work machines unhindered by glossy finishes, cheesy product names, or components with cyborg frogs on them: the world of enterprise-class IT hardware.

A decent portion of our readers operates in that part of the PC universe—that we know for a fact. What we know less about are the specifics. Are many TR gerbils responsible for their companies’ entire IT infrastructures, for instance? Who makes the servers, workstations, and laptops that dominate their workplaces? And do TR’s IT gerbils snag some of the fastest industrial matte-finished heavy machinery for use in their own systems back at home?

To satisfy our curiosity, we’ve put together a big, multi-question poll that covers some of the key areas above. We’re hoping TR readers who use enterprise-class hardware at work or at home—or even those who simply follow that industry—can indulge us. This poll won’t be featured on our front page, so scroll down to start casting your votes.

Comments closed
    • agawtrip
    • 10 years ago

    $1,000,000.00 IT annual budget?!?!?!

    can your company regain that money after 1 year?

      • d0g_p00p
      • 10 years ago

      I think those numbers must be cooked. I mean 24% responded that they are in charge of less than 10 systems, yet 29% have a 1 mill budget per year plus 68% say they use a VM solution. I call BS.

      My team has a 1+ mil budget per year and we have over 4K workstations, not including the networking and storage gear. I also work at a very large pharmaceutical company, I don’t believe it. Unless you are dishing out top of the line Macpro’s and Alienware gaming PC to the secretary and interns. Either that or your CIO, CTO and Director of IT must have amazing server rooms (paid for by the company) located in their homes.

      Maybe a Porsche 911 is a IT expense, for fast on call support.

        • nexxcat
        • 10 years ago

        I work for a large multinational bank. Our hardware budget is well over $1 million. However, as a developer, my job does not directly entail recommendations except for the bits our team develops.

    • EsotericLord
    • 10 years ago

    Working as a tech at a community college, I have the joy of working on things as fast as intel core 2 extremes, and as slow as 2.6ghz P4s.

    …. I hate P4s…

    • Freon
    • 10 years ago

    I’m more of a software analyst. I don’t get too involved in the hardware at work.

    • WillBach
    • 10 years ago

    Today’s enthusiast is tomorrow’s professional. I’m not using enterprise hardware now, but if I ever do, my decisions will probably be influenced by what I read here. Keep up the good work, guys.

    • Aphasia
    • 10 years ago

    What, no love for us few networking people at all, now I’m disappointed, but not at all surprised. Everybody forgets about the communication until they actually need to get it out of the lab and into production… 😛

    Sure, i manage a few servers, only around 25, give or take a few depending on the current fad, but those arent the primary thing, really just supporting services that is part of the communications services package, stuff like ntp, dns, dhcp, radius, syslog, two-factor authentication backends, ip-management software, configuration management etc. My real job for the last 4 years has been being the communications group manager for a customer of ours, having a team of 8 people and some thousand network nodes in a rather harsch technical enviroment to manage.

    • JdL
    • 10 years ago

    We actually use a lot of consumer stuff around the office, rather than enterprise. Consumer hardware has gotten pretty good of late (if you know what to buy), and we’re pretty smart about cloning / virtualizing. As a result we take a “cheap” approach on hardware. If it breaks we throw it out and replace it – no bothers with attempts at repairs, warranties, etc. Just a huge waste of time / IT resources.

    • charged3800z24
    • 10 years ago

    It was hard to vote in some, since We supply hardware for clients. I then support those servers and PCs. So I can have many units under my watch. We are the primary IT for 80% of our clients. Every server install in the last year has been Virtualized, 90% on Windows Hyper-V.

      • dextrous
      • 10 years ago

      Ugh @ Hyper-V. I hope MS has a true alternative to VMWare soon. Competition would be good!

        • Norphy
        • 10 years ago

        Hyper-V isn’t that bad! Admittedly it’s nowhere near as good as ESX but then it is a lot cheaper and a hell of a lot better than Virtual Server!

        I’d rather use Hyper-V than VMWare Server too.

    • dextrous
    • 10 years ago

    Damage, I would love love love to see TR get into enterprise hardware testing. Right now, Anandtech is the only game in town that I trust, and they are pretty limited. I believe this is a huge market that is currently under served.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    wow. Not sure if people are stuffing the box, but I’m one of the (very) few who’s not in charge of anything at all hardware-wise. Note that I kind of like not being on call 24/7 and enjoy doing things with my family, so the lower income is an even trade I think. 😆

      • indeego
      • 10 years ago

      I just took a 10 day vacation, it was wonderful. 🙂

      But yeah was “on call” during all of itg{<.<}g 🙁

      • Darkmage
      • 10 years ago

      I’m not sure it’s stuffing the box. TR is a hardware site after all. It would make sense that it would attract hardware professionals. I’m sure somewhere out there is a fun, informed software development community with general view of the tech industry… but I dunno where that is. Slashdot maybe?

    • toxent
    • 10 years ago

    My company uses all major brands in the server space. One of the intriguing questions for me there is:
    Which brand of server has your business or organization purchased the most in the past two years?

    The reason i can not answer this one properly is twofold,
    1: I’m not in charge of purchasing server hardware, i just administer the systems
    2: We purchase so many there’s no way i could narrow it down. There do seem to be a lot of new Sun boxes recently though.

    • oldDummy
    • 10 years ago

    CSA

    RETIRED….yes.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 10 years ago

    My standard hardware recommendation for the last few years has been this

    Servers: Dell
    Desktops: Dell
    Laptops: Lenovo
    Switches and Routers: HP

    HP and Compaq used to dominate the server and workstation market when I started in IT. However I have migrated to Dell for those needs because of the ease of support. Cisco used to be as well my networking gear of choice. HP has come along way and it’s much much cheaper than Cisco stuff. Plus I figure if MS builds it’s infrastructure on HP is good enough for me.

    I support a 4000+ node network, so ease and unified hardware is a must. Plus with only a few vendors to deal with it’s much easier to roll out new systems and have replacements and spare parts that are easy to acquire.

    • Convert
    • 10 years ago

    HP servers are hard to beat, surprised to see so many dell votes. Plus the dc7900 (now replaced) was a great series for desktops.

    However we primarily use equus machines (http://www.equuscs.com/) for desktops but mostly because a white box intel system with VPRO has been cheaper than an OEM alternative.

    • DrCR
    • 10 years ago

    Some guys seem to have different love/hate relationships with brands.

    I’m my experience it’s not just the brand, but a particular product line that must be considered. For example, I consider Inspirons, um, ill-favored, but I have respect for the Latitudes.

    It does get hard though when the tech-ignorant guys up stairs get stuck on a brand though. I recall a particular event when I spent hours carefully crafting a one paragraph email that respectfully but effectively justified a certain product choice I made to a new upper-level manager (and it was a low total $$ too, go figure).

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    On a near-complete sidenote does anyone else think the Dell Optiplex cases shown in the front page picture look pretty nice? They have a sort of hard utilitarian industrial design going on…

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      “Bad ass” is the word.

      • todd
      • 10 years ago

      My company has installed a few hundred of the ultra small form optiplex 960’s as workstations. With c2d e8400, 4gb of ram, 22″ monitors, and 5 year warranty. There haven’t been any complaints yet. .
      We have 200 or so thin clients. We’d like to go further in that direction.
      We are mostly dell for servers, workstations, and laptops. Moving towards cisco for networking.
      Our techs are dell certified. We can fix just about anything next business day.

    • highlandr
    • 10 years ago

    We’ve been real happy with HP support on our server side. Next day part replacement, and that doesn’t happen often.

    We recently got onto Dells for workstations, but only because we found a recert company that gave us a 5 yr warranty and enough spare parts for us to do our own swap-outs.

    Also, it would be interesting to see what markets these results/companies are in – Insurance, Retail, K-12, Higher Ed, Research, etc.

    • Xylker
    • 10 years ago

    Enterprise hardware is my day job. Of course in a 60,000 person outfit, I’m not really a decision maker… We work with everything, server, SAN, TBU and all the frustrating software and users that go with it.

    I’d love to see more of this level of stuff reviewed by TR, but if you think that the time lines are long for reviews now, try doing testing on a comprehensive Enterprise workload. I would grant that this area is woefully under-served, so you could just about own that niche; but, oh the time required!

      • jackaroon
      • 10 years ago

      It just sounds futile and boring to me, trying to beat dell et. al. at their own game, but without any of the advantages they get or benefits they can provide.
      Finding niches that are under-served by the big vendors might be worthwhile, if TR can identify them, and still have a big enough audience that makes it worth the time.

    • herothezero
    • 10 years ago

    q[

    • tinkthank
    • 10 years ago

    #10 – IT should be focusing on serving the rest of the company not spending time repairing poorly designed and constructed laptops. That’s the hardware vendor’s problem and why we have support contracts. I’d seriously question any IT director/manager that allowed his staff to spend time repairing hardware. It can be a fun distraction but is a waste of company resources and can be handled by the $10-15/hr guy the vendor hires.

    We have thousands of other Dell hardware and it’s drop out rate is less than %1 per year.

      • Palek
      • 10 years ago

      What he said.

      Fixing a laptop is not exactly straightforward. Pulling apart the casing without a proper service manual can easily result in broken or damaged bits. And that’s BEFORE you actually get to the custom parts that you most likely cannot replace (other than an HDD/SSD and maybe RAM).

      Also, wouldn’t most laptops purchased by corporations have warranty clauses telling you to leave servicing to qualified/certified personnel?

        • 5150
        • 10 years ago

        I like to keep my skills sharp. Also, when you live in the middle of nowhere, it’s usually a safe bet you’re going to get someone with questionable skills working on your $2000 laptop. Could my skills be better utilized doing something else? Absolutely. Do I need a break from the monotony? HELL YES!

          • tesla120
          • 10 years ago

          I know what thats like, living in ND its hard to get certified techs, and of course they wont send us out to get certified to fix our own computers, then we would be a more valuable asset and prone to getting job offers from other people…..

      • bwcbiz
      • 10 years ago

      #10 didn’t state they were repairing laptops, just that they were doing their own repairs. In house repair of desktops makes a lot more sense, especially if you’re running your IT on the cheap with white box hardware. Also, in-house staff to reimage computers f-ed up with viruses by incompetent users

      Why pay the vendor $15-20 + profit for a service contract, when you can hire your own $15-20/hr field tech?

        • tesla120
        • 10 years ago

        or 7-10$ hr tech…… :/

    • roont
    • 10 years ago

    I’m surprised at the amount of Dell in use. I had thought they were more home user based.
    We exclusively use ThinkPads at my work for laptops. For desktops we did have a ton of HP’s, but most of them have been replaced with Thinkcentres. So we are a primarily Lenovo corporation. We get great service from them and I find the thinkpads to be quite easy to work with.

      • dextrous
      • 10 years ago

      Unfortunately, Dell has been consistently undercutting HP the last few years whenever we get bids for new (non-server) hardware. HP has produced more solid boxes for us over the years.

    • ew
    • 10 years ago

    33% aren’t using virtualization! That’s unexpected.

      • jinjuku
      • 10 years ago

      They are the same ones laughing about the ‘uselessness’ of a 12 core Opteron. All while acting like they are hardcore IT geeks.

        • Shinare
        • 10 years ago

        Some of us old foegies out here still think its not a good idea to keep all your eggs in one basket.

        I VM using VirtualBox on workstations with multiple cores, but I still like to have a small server for each of my applications in production. (AD server, Email Server, Backup Server, Database Server, file and printer sharing, etc). I can do maintenance on each without disturbing others as well as if something hardware related affects one, it doesn’t affect everyone. Also, multiple servers don’t compete for the same resources.

        I can see how consolidating some into one could save costs but it still makes me hesitant. Like I said, I’m sure this is an older, possibly uneducated as suggested, style of thinking but I haven’t really seen anything that would change my mind yet.

          • dextrous
          • 10 years ago

          With most hypervisor vendors, you can move VMs between hosts on the fly without interruption. So, if a physical host goes down, or you need to perform maintenance, the guest VM servers move, on the fly, to another physical box without anybody knowing the difference.

          Now the caveats –
          1. This functionality is NOT FREE in any hypervisor except for XenServer. XenServer will allow the manual moves in the free edition.
          2. This functionality requires shared storage (via a SAN).

          • indeego
          • 10 years ago

          “I haven’t really seen anything that would change my mind yet.”

          That is crazy. Virtualization isn’t the solution to everything, but it’s easily hosting 50% of our servers, and I think that’s way too low as it is. We’re a small business and the power savings alone paid for it.

          It is getting to the point where small to medium businesses can get away with very few servers and bigger SAN’s and save a ton on hardwareg{<.<}g

          • jinjuku
          • 10 years ago

          I have been doing this since 89′. All I can say about virtualization: Thank god. The last major missing link was the hardware virtualization layer on the CPU. The rest is now just improving the software.

          Server class hardware is solid and reliable for the vast part (ya, ya, ya, there is ALWAYS some isolated exception so lets not bring it up).

          • stdRaichu
          • 10 years ago

          Any virtualisation used for production purposes is never, ever sitting on a single host. We use two 16-node clusters split across datacentres with a synchronous SAN linking the two; running images can be transferred seamlessly from one site to the other, and our important services are held in lockstep (aka Fault Tolerance in the VMware world) so that failover is instantaneous in the event of one of the data centres being taken out.

          Last I looked, you couldn’t get resilience like that using physical tin. The power, rackspace and reliability improvements are the icing on the cake.

          • d0g_p00p
          • 10 years ago

          I started moving most of my boxes to VMs. I still keep the major production boxes hardware based. however being able to put machines into production by just loading up a software image, replace boxes with images and not having to worry about hardware failures and the lower cost of the power and rack space is well worth it.

          When you have systems that cannot go down for even minuets at a time, having them virtualized is another huge advantage. No need about hardware replacements keeping spare hardware around and the likes. Install software, load image and configure settings and you can have a fresh server up within the hour. With clustered or failover based servers you really are not keeping all your eggs in one basket.

    • moop2000
    • 10 years ago

    About three years ago, we switched entirely to Lenovo laptops, and haven’t looked back sense! They’ve been very rugged, reliable, and service has been excellent. I have to say, you pay a premium for a ThinkPad, but I think it is worth it.

    • tinkthank
    • 10 years ago

    Dell servers and desktops are fine but their laptops are horrendous. My employer has ~50 Dell laptops and there is a Dell service tech in the office at minimum three days a week. You do the math on that one. Unfortunately Lenovo’s T series laptops have gone down in quality over the last few years as well.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      Seriously? Your company doesn’t have its own repair tech? They always seem to do a better job. No?

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      I hardly ever have to call Dell and I have over 100 combined notebooks and desktops. When I do call, I do my own repairs.

      • donkeycrock
      • 10 years ago

      yep, unless i need an new mother board, i rarely see dell in my office, plus my service guy really stinks!!!

        • BKA
        • 10 years ago

        Yeah, we do all our repairs in office. Not to mention, I was a Dell In-Home service technician, so that helps.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 10 years ago

    Ok, this was mixed for me. I have lost my job, so I was using past tense. But I consider myself the IT person for my home! Heh heh. At the moment, I do have two servers in the house. WHS and backup.

    Dell was 99% of the equipment for my company. The parts that I mostly got were chairs, monitors and HDD (after a complete wipe, of course).

    • donkeycrock
    • 10 years ago

    i think dell is the cheapest bestest. Plus once the organization heads down the path of having one brand, they don’t like to switch.

    Once your with dell, your with dell for life, unless something catastrophic happens.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      Yep, same here. Agree 100%! Almost like a loyalty thing.

      • DrCR
      • 10 years ago

      It took a lot to go from IBM/Lenovo to Dell. Now it’s almost entirely Dell, but some Apple nowadays too now.

    • PeterD
    • 10 years ago

    Some Dell lovers around here?

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      Oh yea, *waves hand* Dell in the enterprise level is really good. Number one is their services. Always on time, get us the parts and rarely question the broken parts.

        • BKA
        • 10 years ago

        Thats the best thing, next day service on parts.

        • Steel
        • 10 years ago

        Not me. HP servers are generally better than their Dell counterparts, the blade system in particular being much better, and I’ve rarely had problems with HP’s service.

        As far as the desktop computers go, there’s no real major difference between them.

        Edit: Meant as a reply to #2

          • Prototyped
          • 10 years ago

          The ‘proper’ ProLiants are hard to beat, and especially if you compare iLO2 with Dell DRAC, iLO2 wins every single time, by a mile.

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      I know indeego is.

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        Was. We dumped them in 2003. WOuld love to dump HP now because we’ve had some really bad experiences with them but not sure who is really leftg{<.<}g

          • 5150
          • 10 years ago

          I knew you weren’t big on Dell anymore, but didn’t realize you’re having a falling out with HP. I just picked up my first Lenovo (W510, should be here tomorrow). We’ll see how it goes. They’re about the only one left I think for corporate notebooks.

      • khands
      • 10 years ago

      Yup, though not by choice, we’ve been moved to 3 different reps in just as many years and I’m not to happy with our current one.

        • drsauced
        • 10 years ago

        That’s the Dell Enterprise magic, the support. The only downside is you have to pay double the cost to get it.

          • khands
          • 10 years ago

          We have Enterprise level support :/

      • nagashi
      • 10 years ago

      Dell is the only way to get a decent screen resolution these days.

      • tesla120
      • 10 years ago

      I don’t know about anyone else, but I love Dell gold tech support.

      had a hardware problem so called them up, the problem wasn’t immediately resolved when I was leaving at the end of the day, so the guy gives me his full name, email address and the hours he is in so that I can continue working with him on the problem.

      first time we have had a computer with that level of hardware support. and considering we only have 3 full time people in our tech department we don’t normally get that kind of service.

    • 5150
    • 10 years ago

    I would love to see some business-class laptop reviews!

    Latitude/Precision/Thinkpad/EliteBook/etc.

      • kc77
      • 10 years ago

      I would love to see Linux articles. 🙂

        • DrCR
        • 10 years ago

        This is a hardware site though (I’m a fellow Linuxite — don’t get me wrong).

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