SilverEDGE 500SA review

Price when reviewed

The 500SA is Evesham’s entry-point for its SilverEDGE dual-socket Xeon servers and aims to offer small businesses an affordable yet powerful platform that can handle their key business applications. It’s primarily aimed at supporting Microsoft Small Business Server 2003, where it will be expected to handle file and print services, plus light email and database duties.

SilverEDGE 500SA review

Evesham has always favoured Intel’s all-in-one packages and the 500SA is no exception, as it comprises the Intel SC5299-E chassis and S5000VSA motherboard. Chassis design is uninspiring, although it’s well built and offers good expansion potential. The front panel is home to a DVD writer, and there’s a spare 5.25in bay beneath for which Evesham offers a range of tape drives, including the complete family of Sony’s AIT drives. Storage-wise the picture looks good, as a large enclosure under the bays is fitted with Intel’s six-disk hot-swap cage. A floppy drive is no longer provided as standard, but it’s possible to use the USB variety (one can be added via the configurator). For physical security, the front panel locks shut to stop wandering fingers reaching the hard disks, and you can screw down and padlock the side panel if required.

Intel has always played second fiddle to the likes of HP and Dell for server-management software, but it’s been gradually improving its act and now provides a decent bundle of utilities. For basic server monitoring, you can use Intel’s Active System Console, which opens with a collection of chunky icons for an instant overview of critical system components. If everything is fine, there’s little to see, but when a problem or fault is detected, the relevant icon changes. The icon indicates the severity of the error, but selecting it only takes you to a log of errors. The system information page offers a complete rundown of all installed components, so you can easily see details such as fan speeds, voltages, hard disk status and CPU use. Preset thresholds are provided for most key components, and you can use these to issue email notifications if any values are breached. You can also customise your own warning and critical thresholds for free disk space and virtual memory.

For a more in-depth view of the server’s workings, you can load the bundled LANDesk System Manager, but we’re not convinced that single-server small businesses should bother, as its demands are rather high. It requires a core server, where it loads over a dozen Windows services and uses an SQL database for inventory data that it can collect from all systems that run the relevant agent software. It’s overkill for this server’s intended use.

The embedded RAID controller also gets its own management tools courtesy of Intel’s RAID Web Console. The controller is from LSI Logic and is actually a rebadged version of Storage Manager, which provides easy access to views of logical and physical drives, arrays and status information, along with an automated Array Configuration wizard.

The server’s interior is busy, with some cable-related clutter, mainly due to the six SATA interface cables that connect the hard disk cage backplane to the embedded ports at the base of the motherboard. There are plenty of storage options, though, as the price includes Intel’s RAID activation key. So along with mirrors and stripes, you get the extra support for RAID5, and the price of our review configuration includes three 250GB Western Digital RE SATA hard disks. Furthermore, along with good storage fault tolerance, our system was supplied with the optional dual power supply enclosure, which was fitted with one PSU. Upgrading the server with the second redundant supply will cost a further £100.

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