Supermicro - what's your experience?

hutchingsp

Limp Gawd
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Dec 24, 2006
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150
I have a total environment refresh due in a few months and storage as software is very appealing for all the obvious reasons.

Dell, HP and the likes charge a small fortune for SSD and enterprise SAS drives plus the minute you want to go over 12 drives a chassis it's "Oh now you need an expansion cabinet".

Having just looked, SuperMicro is very appealing - 24 bays, latest LSI Nytro's and you can stuff them with Intel SSDs and Seagate Constellation ES drives so it's not like we're talking cheap crap consumer SATA drives.

There are enough vendors offering NBD or even same day onsite support etc. and trust me when you go through some of the online configurators the number at the bottom is just stupid vs. the equivalent Dell or HP.

And of course you can go drop.. well a *lot* of cash on a vendors magic server/appliance and it'll be Supermicro underneath the fancy bezel so they are clearly out there in true enterprise use.

What's peoples thoughts and more importantly what are peoples actual experiences please?

Just to clarify I'm not talking about going down NewEgg and buying a cartful of parts - I mean buy from a vendor who offers onsite support etc.
 

Ruffy

[H]ard|Gawd
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Mar 31, 2001
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2,011
I've heard bad things about their IPMI in a production environment.

Personally, I've had no problems with them, they've worked fantastically in every deployment.
 

Thuleman

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Apr 13, 2004
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5,833
You have to think about how much redundancy you have to have built in.

From a cost/TB Supermicro is hard to beat, I run a couple of them, an old 16 bay and a newer 36 bay, but they are considered volatile storage by us. There is no controller redundancy, and in addition to a lot of storage you are also buying a lot of "computer" with it. The servers I use also run workloads, so it's not just storage per se.

The good news is that you can basically buy two Supermicros for the price of one Tier 1 SAN, the bad news is that if you want to run production on it you basically have to buy two.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but for production JetStor (or a similar vendor) is IMHO a better alternative as it provides more redundancy via dual controllers. Perhaps this unit http://www.acnc.com/p/JetStor_SAS_724HS_10G_iSCSI_IP_SAN The cost/TB is obviously higher but you do get the redundancy, VAAI support, controllers that can handle stuffing the whole thing with SSDs, no annual support fees, but no onsite support.
 

hutchingsp

Limp Gawd
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Dec 24, 2006
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150
If we went with running StoreVirtual on these they would be clustered anyway.

I wouldn't be cutting corners either it would be decent spec i.e. LSI Nytro's, Intel SSDs in RAID5, Seagate Constellation ES SAS drives in RAID10.

Essentially RAIN with vSphere approved Metro Cluster via software defined storage.
 

k1pp3r

Supreme [H]ardness
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Jun 16, 2004
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8,170
For me, their hardware is good, drivers can be a pain in the ass though
 

obrith

Limp Gawd
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Jun 11, 2004
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267
I find them more reliable than our HP servers and the VAR we buy from is far more reliable, kind, and reasonable with warranties - if I tell them a part is bad they ship me the part overnight immediately without hours of diagnostics or disagreements we often get from HP. They cost about half even with our "large discount" from HP (usually ~40% off retail).

We buy a few dozen servers a year and we're more or less exclusively buying SuperMicro - we have Dell, HP, and SuperMicro in production. I'm a bit jaded on HP but they seem to like to die just out of warranty and for some reason Dell doesn't want to give us a reasonable sales team (or anyone at all?).
 

uOpt

Gawd
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Mar 29, 2006
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755
Always excellent, and support answers your question even out of warranty.

The only real problem I ever had is two bricked x58 boards after I flashed their BIOS the way they wanted and support says the download is fine and they tried in-house. Now I have two bricked boards and more that I'll never update. The old BIOS isn't too bad but it has e.g. really slow PXE boot for some OSes (I think it is generally slow, it is just different OSes which have different amounts of stuff in the PXE part loaded by PXE).
 

NetJunkie

[H]F Junkie
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Mar 16, 2001
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9,682
First, you don't always have to buy your SSDs and HDs from your server vendor. When we put SSDs in Cisco UCS systems we use Intel 3700s or Kingston E100s. They work fine. The hard part is getting drive caddies....

But SuperMicro is good. If they are cheap enough buy some spare parts to have on hand. A lot of brand name gear out there is Super Micro. Nutanix for example, is all Super Micro.
 

dbwillis

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Jul 9, 2002
Messages
8,231
I love them, been supporting them for work for the past 6-7 years, no issues at all, we hammer them hard too.
(if you watch a major sports channel, every graphic you see on air, is rendered on a Supermicro box...X8DAi running Nvidia cards)
Friday I just replaced (2) X6DA8 machines that were running pretty much 24x7 since I started, I think I have 3 left to replace with X8 machines, then I have about 10 X7DAE machines to replace with X8 ones.
We just started testing X9 based systems, our vendor is also good on RMA's that we submit, and they powder coat our chassis per our request (baby blue, Giants blue, Syracuse orange), depending on the machine's use.
 

Thuleman

Supreme [H]ardness
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I love them, been supporting them for work for the past 6-7 years, no issues at all, we hammer them hard too.
(if you watch a major sports channel, every graphic you see on air, is rendered on a Supermicro box...X8DAi running Nvidia cards)

Sportsvision?
 

_Gea

2[H]4U
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Dec 5, 2010
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For me, their hardware is good, drivers can be a pain in the ass though

Supermicro use standard hardware ex from Intel or LSI. Its up to you to select a hardware that is supported by your OS out of the box.

If you look at Solaris and ZFS for example where hardware support can be a problem you will find that some SuperMicro systems are useles and you will never find a driver and others fits perfectly. They are the worldwide most used mainboards for ZFS builds as far as I can see. They are quite often the base of a "best of all" setup..
 

RyC

Weaksauce
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Apr 20, 2013
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113
ESPN? :eek:

Anyway, I'm just a home user, but my 2 supermicro motherboards and chassis have been 100% solid.
 

SantaSCSI

Weaksauce
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May 22, 2011
Messages
116
You have to think about how much redundancy you have to have built in.

This.

Almost any "server with a lot of disks" or non-specific SAN is going to be cheaper than the EMC/HP/IBM/... solutions. There is a clear reason for this:

1) Everything matches. The drivers and software are tested to work on a SAN.
2) Redundancy: Almost all parts are redundant or under protection. RAID, dual controllers, dual paths to the shelves, dual PS's, dual batteries, ...
3) they are specifically built for those type of workloads (Yes I know, the wrong sizing can transform your shiny SAN to a paperweight when badly sized).

I'm not saying this because I am payed by a SAN vendor, but because it's the truth.

On the other hand, if you can handle downtime and your infrastructure is not 24/7 critical, you can surely get away with SM. They bring high quality hardware to the table. Just make sure you check compatibility guides and for sure that you have a good support contract. Accountability is gold.
 

TeeJayHoward

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Feb 8, 2005
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11,167
I saw them in use when I was a student at UCCS, and fell in love with the chassis. Solid, heavy-duty, enterprise-grade construction through and through. I bought one for my personal computer, and used it for years. Over time, I upgraded it with additional Supermicro products - controllers, disk shelves, etc. I didn't have a single failure in that time. That chassis lasted me from the Pentium 4 era until the first-gen i5s. It was dropped, kicked, moved, racked, unracked, kicked some more, and sucked in enough dust to kill a cat. (Funny story - it actually tried to suck in my cat the first time she saw it. Powerful fans!)

I decommissioned that chassis when I got married. My wife didn't want to deal with the noise. I went to Fractal Design for my chassis, but kept using Supermicro products for the components. I had a single issue with a motherboard that only liked to have a card in one of the three available slots. I called them more to learn about why that was happening than anything else. A real, live human picked up in minutes, explained the issue, and offered a custom BIOS that could fix it. While he was creating the BIOS, he offered to adjust the fan settings for me so it wouldn't alarm when running fans which were under the threshold. I was blown away. I'm not a $100M+ company. I'm just some hobbyist. That right there bought them a customer for life.

Needless to say, I've been pushing for Supermicro gear at every job I've been at. My current job has a couple of rows worth of their gear. We've replaced a single motherboard with an advanced RMA, and had no issues with any part of the process. We had the new motherboard overnighted and installed in no time.

I could sing their praises all day, but they're not perfect. Some of their older rail systems are just downright confusing to install. If you're a fan of cable management arms, you will find yourself disappointed at Supermicro's selection. Their BIOS could be more powerful - Allowing the user to set their own thresholds for fan, CPU overtemp, etc. IPMIview looks like something from the early 90s (although it does work very well). Their header locations work beautifully for other Supermicro products, but can result in cables that are too short for other manufacturer's products.

You can't pick-and-choose components the way I'd like, either. For example, Supermicro makes the SC822T-400LPB chassis. It's basically a cheaper model of their SC833 line. The backplane doesn't have the management features, and the power supply isn't redundant. I picked up two of them recently because they're no noisier than your average gaming computer. I would love to have the option of an SC822T with the SES-2 backplane, or an SC833TQ with the quieter 400W non-redundant power supply. (Or, while I'm dreaming, one of their SC826 chassis with the same less-noisy PSU)
 
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