Editor’s Note: This article was last updated on April 8, 2019
In this article we’ll be going over HPE vs Dell servers, and comparing and contrasting some of the different features and qualities that the procurement officer, system admin, or data center manager may be considering when making their decision. If you are in the market for upgrading your servers, make sure to plan appropriately so you can make the money you deserve off your used servers.
HPE VS Dell Servers: The Factors
Dell does not require a paid support program to download any updates or firmware, and they also provide an extremely intuitive site to find any updates for your sytems.
Additionally, Dell Prosupport is regarded in the IT sphere as one of the more reliably helpful support programs around. If you can afford it, pro support is a worthwhile investment. That being said, word has been going around that Dell will soon be requiring a support contact for downloads in the future, though nothing concrete has surfaced as of yet.
Anecdotally, it’s been reported that Dell can be more particular about documentation for part replacements. For most enterprise purposes, this shouldn’t be an issue, but business class purchasers may find it more problematic.
HPE requires you to have a service/support contract to download any new firmware or updates. Subjectively, It can be difficult to find support drivers and firmware through HP’s platform even if you do. HPE’s website is also fairly difficult to use for any information or support in general. That being said, their documentation is extremely thorough, and those with know-how can find manuals for essentially any part you could conceive of. HPE’s support for replacing parts and their supply chain has also improved in recent years.
It is not uncommon to hear of Dell servers running without a single breakdown for years. Dell EMC is very vigilant as far as continuously improving their servers, and the more recent lines generally reinforce that fact.
According to a survey done mid-2017, HP proliants had about 2.5x as much downtime as dell poweredge servers. That being said, HPE systems do a good job with predictive alerts for parts that are liable to fail. This allows the enterprise to repair or replace parts before they go bad. Additionally, HPE’s superdome line showed incredible reliability. So for mission critical big data workloads, HPE’s solution does seem reliable. HPE’s Apollo line and the newer proliants are likely too new for users to determine long term reliability yet, so keep that in mind when you’re comparing HPE vs Dell servers.
Most users report less flexibility on price when negotiating with Dell, though with larger, consistent customers they’re typically willing to cut more of a deal. In years past dell was more affordable, but the price differences are much less clear cut these days.
HPE is usually more flexible on price, though initial quotes are similar to Dell in most cases. In most cases your relationship with the vendor will be the more important factor.
If you’re a longstanding customer with either one of the two companies or you have trade-ins, you’ll probably be able to get a much better deal.
As far as Out of Band Management systems go, HPE’s Management tool is iLO, and Dell EMC’s is iDRAC. Both systems have progressed a lot to provide similar features, such as HTML5 support. In years past there were some stark differences, but these days the IPMI implementations don’t contrast enough to be a significant deciding factor. That being said, there are a few differences.
iDRAC has come a long way in recent generations. You no longer have to use java after iDRAC 7 which is nice, though the Graphic User Interface is not quite as nice as the new iLO GUI. As far as licensing goes, iDRAC uses a physical license, which can be bought on the secondary market and prevent being locked in again with the OEM after end of life. Updates are generally a bit longer with iDrac, and in general it seems a bit more sluggish than iLO. As far as a previous point of contention, iDRAC does have a similar tool to RIS, called OpenManage Essentials, though both have their issues on some browser versions.
ILO standard is included, but Advanced (i.e. post console session) requires a license, which can lock you in with the OEM if your servers go EOL; you can’t buy them from the used market. Some users will claim that you only have to buy one key because you can reuse the advanced key on multiple servers, but this is against the terms of service; you do have to purchase new keys just as with iDRAC. Overall, the GUI with ILO seems more intuitive and the platform seems a bit more snappy, but there are more important things to consider than the out of band management interface.
The Final Roundup
At the end of the day, HPE and Dell are both fairly similar companies with similar offerings, and so when comparing HPE vs dell servers, there is not clear cut winner. There isn’t a huge difference between the companies as far as build quality, price, or reliability, so those are going to be best evaluated on a case by case basis. However, Dell’s effective support and minor differences make Dell our server provider choice when we evaluate HPE vs dell servers. That being said, in almost all cases they provide comparable hardware and services, so companies should always do their due diligence and evaluate their options on a case by case basis.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our recent roundup for the best all flash array in 2018
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