Raspberry Pi is a great component for building low cost servers!
Mythic Beasts managed the online launch of Raspberry Pi 3 in part by hosting it on Raspberry Pi itself !
It was an impressive example of eating your own dog food and Raspberry Pi 3 rose to the challenge for quite a while.
Check out Raspberry Pi's latest blog to learn all the details but suffice to say we think Raspberry Pi 2 and now Pi 3 are an excellent choice for building servers.
In the interests of "dogfooding", we have been running our office on two Pi 2 and a Duo Pi blade board for six months now and it operates flawlessly!
Using a cheap 4-port switch and HDD extracted from a Bruce's ultrabook (when he upgraded it to use an SSD), we've run our DHCP, DNS, WiFi AP and local file servers on these two Raspberry Pi 2 with a wall mounted Duo Pi. It's been running since September without a single crash. The key to its reliability is the stability of the power supply provided by the Duo Pi and the fact that we run the main server from the HDD (and not the SD card which boots the server only).
BitScope Blade & Pi 3
With the launch of Raspberry Pi 3 and new Blade boards like Quattro Pi and Uno Pi, even more options are available.
For example you can mount a Raspberry Pi and HAT on a blade, stand-alone or in a rack. You can even mount the Pi Display.
Perhaps you'd like to be able to run four (or more!) Raspberry Pi at once and maybe do away with network switches and wires.
Raspberry Pi 3 embeds wireless into every board making this possible. This is a great addition to a very powerful little computer.
It means you no longer need a network switch in many cases because you can use WiFi instead and of course you don't need USB WiFi or Bluetooth dongles any more either. Add the faster 64-bit CPU of the Pi 3 all in a physical form factor and for a price that's identical to the previous two models and you have the perfect drop-in upgrade for Raspberry Pi based server solutions.
We're of an open mind about the use of Raspberry Pi to build high demand servers like Mythic Beasts did on Pi 3 launch day.
It comes down the the efficacy of the ARM vs x86 architectures and the efficiency with which the PHP engine can run a very high traffic Wordpress website in this particular use-case.
Raspberry Pi really shines when building servers where low cost, low power and low heat are key design criteria.
For a wide range of home, SME and small scale uses nothing else compares and for what we do here at BitScope (physical computing, test, measurement, data acquisition etc) it's perfect.
For us all about physical inputs and outputs and with Raspberry Pi you get a lot of I/O at very low cost !
Cloud and Cluster Computing with Docker on Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi is well suited to cluster & cloud computing too.
It's early days but we're working hard on the infrastructure side with BitScope Blade to make it easy to DIY your own Pi based servers for cloud and cluster computing using various software solutions.
In terms of software, we particularly like Docker and some other impressive open source projects including Mesos, Spark and more.
If you're interested in running Docker on Raspberry Pi we highly recommend you check out our friends over at Docker Pirates.
These guys are at the forefront of what's possible with Raspberry Pi on the cloud computing and server side of things. For example they recently described how to set up a Docker Swarm on a cluster with eight Raspberry Pi 3, grouped as two tiny 4 x Pi datacenters. You can scale this to almost any size with Blade Servers built with Duo Pi or Quattro Pi.
Server Storage Solutions for Raspberry Pi
The other thing that caught our attention recently is Western Digital's new PiDrive.
One thing you sometimes need a lot of in server applications is storage.
Large SD cards are available but it can be risky to run everything from a single SD card as the crash of the Pi 3 serving the launch day traffic demonstrated.
The good news is there are many storage options available when running Raspberry Pi with BitScope Blade.
We designed BitScope Blade to power Raspberry Pi with more than enough juice to run a stack of USB connected HDD or SDD devices as our example at the top of this post demonstrates. The PiDrive makes it even easier by integrated USB interface into the drive itself.
The new Raspberry Pi 3 can boot from USB storage devices and even across a network eliminating the need for an SD card at all if desired. In practice we've found (the right) SD cards to be very reliable, especially if you simply use them to boot across to another USB connected storage device. The use-case described in the foundation's blog today goes a long way to proving that Eben's dream (to make Raspberry Pi a standard computing platform) can be realised and now with Raspberry Pi 3 and BitScope Blade there is great platform with which to do it IOHO !
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