HP Proliant Microserver– First Impressions

Even though they’ve been around a while now I’ve only recently got my hands on one of these boxes.

With space for up to 4 hard disks and 8GB RAM it’s aimed at the lower end of the SMB market and is generally intended to run Windows 2008 Foundation or Small Business 2011 Essentials (when it finally arrives)

That’s not to say it won’t run Windows Server 2008 and it makes an ideal server for small branch offices.

As long as you are aware of what it’s intended to be used for it’s an interesting piece of kit.

It worth knowing that doesn’t come with an optical drive by default, you can add one but that’ll obviously drive the cost up so it pays to have a USB DVD drive or be comfortable booting from a USB drive.

Once it’s setup it runs quietly in the corner and if you run it headless and without a keyboard and mouse people will generally not even notice it’s there!

The four USB ports on the front are useful for plugging USB hard disks in for backups and the lockable front door means the internal disks are safe from casual curiosity.

The only things which were a little disappointing were to do with setup software which I was surprised at as it’s not the usual experience I’ve had with HP servers.

This page on the HP support site lists all the software for the Microserver. So far so good right? The one thing that isn’t on here is software for managing the RAID array. What if a drive fails? How will I be alerted? Fortunately it didn’t take long to find out I needed AMDs “RAIDXpert” (this post was particularly helpful) and you can get the software directly from the AMD site.

On the subject of the RAID array. When you first boot the system you’ll notice there isn’t anything in the BIOS to configure the array. It’s pretty easy to sort though.

Press F10 during the POST to jump into the ROM Based Setup Utility (RBSU)

Navigate to the advanced menu and select “IDE Configuration”

Change the SATA controller mode option to “RAID”

Save and exit and once the server reboots you can press CTRL+F when prompted to gain access to the RAID config tool

Other than that it’s an interesting piece of hardware which I can see us selling lots of in the coming months, especially because of the price it comes in at.

Philip Elder has a great post with pictures detailing the insides of the box which is worth a look. 

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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