Generally speaking, the term “x86 servers” refers to computing systems that are based on Intel architecture, which is widely adopted by manufacturers due to its backward compatibility with instruction sets and scalability. This compatibility allows software reuse across generations of products, protecting the software investment, while the scalability satisfies demand for throughput and workloads. Although many servers built on the Intel architecture share the same hardware components and functionality, the varied uses and designs for these servers call for unique features that allow them to fulfill their intended purposes.
While Lanner’s network appliances are also built around x86 architecture, they are primarily designed for specific applications such as firewall, UTM, WAN acceleration and application delivery. The following key points detail the similarities and differences between x86 servers and Lanner network appliances, demonstrating why the Lanner products are better suited to the above applications.
LAN Port Density and Locations
In general, an x86 server can choose from single, dual, and quad port configurations, whereas a Lanner network appliance has at least 6 LAN ports available from the beginning. Furthermore, Lanner network appliances offer best-in-class LAN port density, including Ethernet modules to provide up to 8 additional LAN ports per slot, with a total 32 ports in a 1U network appliance.
While Ethernet ports are located on the back panel of an x86 server, they are on the front panel of the Lanner network appliance. Front access to the Ethernet ports makes it easy to troubleshoot LAN connectivity, as well as configure the entire system.
High Availability in Ethernet Connectivity
Most x86 servers are designed for the purpose of data storage and are not equipped with any features to deal with data loss when an Ethernet connection goes down. To ensure data transmission without packet loss, Lanner network appliances incorporate industry-leading LAN bypass functionality to create robust, high-performance network platforms. Lanner proprietary LAN bypass technology offers three control states — just-on, power-on and power-off — to bypass or dynamically disconnect the Ethernet port connection in response to system failure, a power-off sequence or a software request.
Scalability and Expandability
Scalability is especially important to today’s network operators as network traffic demand continues to increase at an exponential rate. With a front-facing design and easily swapped components, the Lanner NIC module can effortlessly scale-out total throughput without requiring a new server rebuild every time demand rises. Lanner offers over 20 different Ethernet network modules, including RJ-45 copper and high-speed fiber, at speeds ranging from 1GbE, 10Gbps to 40Gps. The scalability and expandability of Lanner network appliances will accelerate development in virtualization and reduce workloads for application consolidation in data centers.
Furthermore, the SFP+ modules and Intel® Ethernet Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) technology on server-grade Intel Ethernet controllers make Lanner network appliances suitable for datacenter applications with Storage Area Networks (SAN) fabric.
Another key advantage of Lanner network appliances over x86 servers is the ability to integrating network processors with the Ethernet modules. Thus, packet processing tasks such as TCP/IP, IPSec and SSL can be offloaded to relieve the burden on the main processor. The implementation of packet processing offload and acceleration is essential to next-generation secure server applications.
System Availability and Serviceability
Both x86 servers and Lanner network appliances have RAS features to protect data integrity and avoid system downtime, such as redundant power supplies, fans and hot-swappable HDD with RAID implementation. They are created to improve a system’s overall availability and reliability.
However, while most x86 severs offer only a standard 2-year warranty for support, Lanner x86 network appliances feature chipsets and CPUs from Intel’s embedded group with up to 7 years lifecycle support. This makes it possible for our customers to support their network appliances for a longer period after deployment compared to standard x86 servers and desktop processors.
The customizability of an x86 server normally extends only to compatible CPUs and port configurations. However, to accommodate the needs of different applications, purpose-built Lanner network appliances not only offer the same component customization as an x86 sever, but also provide custom services for product identity and software settings, including customized chassis, faceplates, logo branding and the BIOS menu.
Most x86-architecture servers use IPMI-compliant solutions to remotely monitor the physical state of the server hardware and perform management tasks. The IPMI accomplishes this by utilizing a microcontroller embedded on the motherboard of the server, the baseboard management controller (BMC), which includes a specialized service processor and firmware to provide out-of-band functionality. Lanner offers a customizable IPMI solution with an add-on IPMI card that allows operators to remotely configure, install, reboot and shut down through firewalls and NATs. The card also features SSL encryption and comes with an SDK so users can create a custom management console for their appliance.
In addition, most Lanner network appliances features LCM displays on the front panel, which can aid in system diagnosis by showing the system status and basic configuration parameters.
Lanner Electronics is a leader in high-performance and high-availability network security for the telecom, cloud and enterprise sectors. Lanner network appliances are highly scalable and flexible due to careful provisioning at every layer of the hardware stack, including RAID levels, BIOS settings, virtualization support, network capacity and data center connectivity at the beginning of the design phase. As a result, Lanner provides a complete platform portfolio that can meet our customers’ needs and budget demands across a broad range of network applications.