The 1U rack server is a perfect choice for rack dense computing and they don't come much more qualified than HPE's ProLiant DL360 Gen9. It offers impressive amounts of power and flexibility in a slim-line chassis and delivers it all at a very affordable price.
On review is one of HPE's Base models (818208-B21) which costs $3974 inc GST and gets you started with a big 10-core 2.2GHz E5-2630 v4 Xeon partnered by 16GB of DDR4. Memory can be boosted hugely as the server's 24 DIMM slots support up to 3TB of 2400MHz LRDIMMs although 128GB modules will set you back much more.
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that all the Base models come SAS3 ready as the price includes HPE's Smart Array P440ar 12Gbps SAS3 RAID controller with 2GB of FBWC cache and battery backup. Our Base system doesn't include any drives in the price but it does have eight free hot-swap SFF drives bays at the front ready for action.
HPE's excellent internal design frees up plenty of space for future upgrades
Room for more inside
The RAID card fits neatly into a dedicated slot behind the CPUs leaving the three PCI-Express slots free for further expansion. Network options are impressive as the server comes as standard with quad embedded Gigabit ports plus a dedicated FlexibleLOM slot which accepts HPE's dual and quad-port fibre and copper 10GbE, a choice selection of Infiniband or dual-port 10/25GbE modules.
Graphics accelerators are on the cards too, as HPE's optional enablement kits allow the server to support up to two Nvidia Tesla or Quadro GPGPUs. Naturally, you'll need to beef up the standard 500W PSU supplied with the Base system and HPE provides a handy Simplified Configuration web service to help you make the right choices.
The server's P440ar RAID controller supports SAS3 and can be configured directly during OS installation
The DL360 Gen9 supports higher power 800W and 1400W PSUs or you can add some extra protection with HPE's nifty new Micro UPS module. Providing internal battery backup, this 750W unit fits in a standard PSU slot and in the event of a blackout, will keep the server up for an extra minute so you can safely shut it down.
Business running high-workload apps such as databases and analytics should check out HPE's new Persistent Memory NVDIMMs. These provide 8GB of DRAM that runs at the same speed at DDR4 memory and is backed up by 8GB of on-board flash memory.
The embedded Intelligent Provisioning tools makes light work of OS deployment
HPE offers a multitude of server management tools with the server's standard setting embedded iLO4 controller delivering a slick web interface with plenty of operational information and direct links to HPE support. We used it to view installed hardware, keep a close eye on power usage plus temperatures and, with an Advanced upgrade key applied, fire up remote control sessions.
OS deployment doesn't get any easier with HPE's Intelligent Provisioning tool on the case as we used it to install Windows Server 2012 R2 and all relevant drivers in under 20 minutes. For testing, we fitted a couple of SSDs and were able to configure the RAID controller directly from the Intelligent Provisioning console prior to loading the OS.
We used HPE's iLO4 and Support iOS apps on our iPad to keep an eye on the server and check our support contracts. HPE's OneView is also loaded on the lab's Hyper-V host and this provided us with a centralised view of all our ProLiant servers along with options to manage and configure them.
OneView comes with a free Standard license which allowed us to monitor ProLiant servers, keep an eye on their vitals and receive alerts. For full infrastructure management and automated configuration of servers, blades, SANs and more you'll need to purchase an Advanced license.
Remote management doesn't get any better with HPE's iLO4 chip on your side
Our system came with 8 hot-swap SFF drive bays cabled directly to the P440ar RAID card leaving room to fit an optional universal media bay which provides VGA and USB ports plus an optical drive. Alternatively, you can dispense with this and fill the front panel with 10 SFF drive bays but be careful as HPE provides different enablement kits for SATA and SAS support.
Entry-level models use the embedded B140i SATA RAID controller or come with an H240ar RAID card. The latter is a cheaper option to the P440ar and has 12Gbps SAS3 support minus RAID6 and 60 plus HPE's SmartCache module.
Virtualisation fans will find a pair of internal USB 3 ports for booting into an embedded hypervisor. There's also a microSD card slot next door for the same function but HPE can't match Dell's dual slot controller which offers embedded hypervisor redundancy.
High-performance storage is a possibility as the server can be configured with 4 standard SFF drive bays and 6 NVMe SSD bays. This requires a special enablement kit which includes an Express bay bridge card that must be fitted in the primary PCI-Express riser.
HPE's OneView app can manage all your servers, storage arrays, virtualisation hosts and much more
The ProLiant DL360 Gen9 is ideal for space constrained data centres as it delivers a powerful, high-density rack package with excellent expansion potential. The Base model on review is particularly good value and offers plenty of storage permutations while HPE's remote management capabilities are beyond reproach.