I have been working in IT for quite some time and have worked primarily with Dell and Compaq/HP servers over the years. I know this Dell vs HP debate is not new, nor will it ever die so long as both companies are in business. However I wanted to post my top 5 reasons that I feel Dell provides a better server than HP does. The term better is a very general one, however hopefully the reasons below will define what I mean by it.
This post is purely subjective but I wanted to write it anyways, feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with my thoughts here.
I have used out-of-band management to save me multiple times, because I work mostly with Dell that safety is the Dell Remote Access Controller (DRAC). I have used their 4th, 5th, and 6th (current) generation. I have also used HP’s Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) in their ProLiant G3, G5, and G6 servers to save me time/trouble as well. While both provide the same functionality I feel that Dell has a better product that is easier to use and manage. Below are some reasons why I say this based on my experience.
- IP Configuration – You can assign an IP during POST on both systems, however with Dell you are able to use OpenManage Server Administrator to make this change. HP does have a Windows based application called HP Lights-Out Online Configuration Utility however this is just another software that has to be loaded on a system.
- Keyboard input – For some reason HP requires you to assign hot keys to function keys or key combinations. Without doing this you would be unable to press f9 for example while connected to the console. With Dell the keyboard interaction is much more seamless and does not require you to pre-define hot keys.
- Virtual media – This feature allows you to mount an ISO so that you can boot from it or load software from it. For example you would be able to install VMware vSphere remotely without ever having access to the server. While I have had problems with the DRAC on this point I have had the iLO totally fail me all together.
- User management – If you lose, forget, or don’t know the username/password to log into the interface you can reset it with Dell OpenManage Server Administrator. With HP you have to use a command line software in conjunction with an XML file that defines configurations
- Licensing – Dell is a hardware product that you buy whereas the iLO comes installed and needs to be licensed. Dell adopted HP’s implementation in their current line of server with the iDRAC Express which provides the functionality that the unlicensed iLO provided. You still must buy the iDRAC Enterprise to get console access but there is no license to purchase or manage.
Dell server management software is called OpenManage Server Administrator. Through OpenManage you are able to manage all of your hardware, DRAC, and storage controllers and arrays, view system information, and setup alerting. It also provides SNMP management functionality so that you can remotely monitor the system and remediate issues when they arise such as disk or power supply failures.
HP’s System Management Homepage provides much of the same functionality, however there is also generally a ton of other software installed for management of the system. For example if you look in the add/remove programs or startup menu of a HP server you will find much more installed which means much more to update. While HP does provide their support pack to update everything at once I find that their management software is very bloated and cumbersome.
Furthermore doing a P2V of a HP server is so much more time consuming compared to a Dell server. After the P2V process there is more software to uninstall, NIC teaming software that glues itself into the TCP/IP configuration, files scattered everywhere on the hard drive (root, program files, system32) where as with Dell you simply uninstall OpenManage and any other unnecessary drivers.
Dell uses a service tag for their serial numbers, it is a short alpha numeric string that can be inputted on their support site to identify your system, check warranty status and download software. This serial number is also what you provide when you call in for technical support or need to renew a warranty. HP on the other hand uses a serial number and part number. The warranty checker on HP’s website requires both of these to check the warranty status. As far as I know you are not able to look up your HP system by the serial number either.
Dell is always less expensive than HP when buying direct or through a large distributor like CDW. While I really like my CDW rep and would love to give him more business I refuse to buy HP whenever possible.
In my experience Dell servers have been easier to get into and work with, HP require a torx screw to remove or get into certain areas while Dell uses standard Phillips screws.