What is a white box server?

A white box server refers to customized servers that are either home built, or built by white box suppliers called ODMs (Original Design Manufacturers) such as Supermicro.  The term white box simply means that the equipment is unbranded or generic. All parts are purchased separately which helps cut costs as well as provides hobbyists and data center professionals alike more customization to better fit their needs.  The ease of customization allows for individual parts to be replaced, rather than replacing the entire server when equipment fails. White box servers are increasingly being used by the Open Computer Project (OCP) which was developed by Facebook.

The drawback of choosing a white box server over a standard OEM server, is that they are less reliable and the components often lack redundancy. White box servers lower their risks of downtime by using clustering techniques for deployment. A cluster enables high availability in a computer system by grouping servers together to act like as a single system.  With this in mind, a company should do a strong evaluation on the pros in cons of deploying white box servers to ensure that it is actually cost-effective.

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