More or Less

I have been giving a lot of though recently toward an going debate in the server business. Do I, as Google does, buy more desktop class computers and use software for reliability? Or do I buy fewer, more expensive servers that have some redundancy in hardware? Are there hybrid models? Johnathan Schwartz talked about this on his blog. Sun sells server class hardware and does argue for bigger, fewer, more powerful servers. Google is well known for using PC class hardware in an amazing density and it has worked well for them. I am looking for off the shelf hardware for right now so do I use bladesystems? I like the HP C-class half height servers because I can put 16 servers with all their support equipment in 10Us. But is it cost effective? I think that the Google approach is great but how much work does it take to build the custom racks? What is the learning curve for dealing with cooling? For now I am leaning toward cheap blades.

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