Blades Made Simple http://bladesmadesimple.com Making blade servers simple since 2009 Wed, 27 Aug 2014 04:15:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 IDC Worldwide Server Tracker – Q2 2014 Released http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/08/idc-worldwide-server-tracker-q2-2014-released/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/08/idc-worldwide-server-tracker-q2-2014-released/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 04:15:38 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2666 The Q2 2014  IDC Worldwide Server Tracker was released on August 26, 2014 and it reported that the demand for x86 servers improved in 2Q14 with revenues increasing 7.8% year over year in the quarter to $9.8 billion worldwide as unit shipments increased 1.5% to 2.2 million servers. HP led the market with 29.6% revenue share [...]]]> The Q2 2014  IDC Worldwide Server Tracker was released on August 26, 2014 and it reported that the demand for x86 servers improved in 2Q14 with revenues increasing 7.8% year over year in the quarter to $9.8 billion worldwide as unit shipments increased 1.5% to 2.2 million servers. HP led the market with 29.6% revenue share based on 7.4% revenue growth over 2Q13. Dell retained second place, securing 21.2% revenue share.

IDC_2Q2014_WWServerTracker

Modular servers – blades and density-optimized – represent distinct segments of growth for vendors in an otherwise mature market,” said Jed Scaramella, Research Director, Enterprise Servers and Datacenter at IDC. “As the building block for integrated systems, blade servers will continue to drive enterprise customers along the evolutionary path toward private clouds. On the opposite side of the spectrum, density-optimized servers are being rapidly adopted by hyperscale datacenters that favor the scalability and efficiency of the form factor.”

If you want to read the entire press release, please visit http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS25060614

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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Why Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX is Ideal for Virtualization http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/08/why-dells-poweredge-vrtx-is-ideal-for-virtualization/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/08/why-dells-poweredge-vrtx-is-ideal-for-virtualization/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 01:37:04 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2662 I recently had a customer looking for 32 Ethernet ports on a 4 server system to drive a virtualization platform.  At 8 x 1GbE per compute node, this was a typical VMware virtualization platform (they had not moved to 10GbE yet) but it’s not an easy task to perform on blade servers – however the [...]]]> I recently had a customer looking for 32 Ethernet ports on a 4 server system to drive a virtualization platform.  At 8 x 1GbE per compute node, this was a typical VMware virtualization platform (they had not moved to 10GbE yet) but it’s not an easy task to perform on blade servers – however the Dell PowerEdge VRTX is an ideal platform, especially for remote locations.

VRTX_Max_NICsThe Dell PowerEdge VRTX infrastructure holds up to 4 compute nodes and allows for up to 8 x PCIe cards.  The unique design of the Dell PowerEdge VRTX allows a user to run up to 12 x 1GbE NICs per server by using a 4 x 10GbE Network Daughter Card on the Dell PowerEdge M620 blade server and then adding in two 4-port 1GbE NICs into the PCIe slots.  The 4 x 1GbE NICs via the LAN on Motherboard plus 8 x 1GbE ports via the PCIe cards offers a total of 12 x 1GbE NICs – per compute node (see image for details) – which should be more than enough for any virtualization environment.  As an added benefit, since the onboard LOM is a 1/10GbE card users will be able to seamlessly upgrade to 10GbE by simply replacing the 1GbE switch with a 10GbE when it becomes available later this year.

If you have a remote environment, or even a project that needs dedicated server/storage/networking, I encourage you to take a look at the Dell PowerEdge VRTX.  It’s pretty cool, and odds are, your Dell rep can help you try one out at no charge.

For full details on the Dell PowerEdge VRTX, check out this blog post I wrote in June 2013.

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

 

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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7 Lessons Learned From Cisco UCS http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/08/7-lessons-learned-from-cisco-ucs/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/08/7-lessons-learned-from-cisco-ucs/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 03:57:54 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2656 Here’s a summary of the lessons learned with Cisco UCS from the Cisco LIVE 2014 session titled, “BRKCOM-3010 – UCS: 4+ Years of Lessons Learned by the TAC”.

#1 – Read the Release Notes

It’s a good practice to read the release notes on any updates with UCS, specifically the Mixed Cisco UCS Release [...]]]> Here’s a summary of the lessons learned with Cisco UCS from the Cisco LIVE 2014 session titled, “BRKCOM-3010 – UCS: 4+ Years of Lessons Learned by the TAC”.

#1 – Read the Release Notes

It’s a good practice to read the release notes on any updates with UCS, specifically the Mixed Cisco UCS Release Support Matrix.  Also, if you are going to be doing mixed, make sure to also check the “Minimum B/C Bundle…Features” section to ensure you have the right versions for any new features you are adding, otherwise you may get error messages.

 

#2 – Plan UCS Firmware Upgrades like an Elective Surgery

Before you begin any firmware upgrades, take the time to prepare.  Consider doing a proactive TAC update – let them know you are doing a firmware update so they can point out any reminders.  As mentioned above, consult the release notes.  Also, backup your system and check the compatibility matrices.  If you have any critical or major faults, contact the TAC and get the issues addressed before moving forward with any updates.  There are video guides on how to do upgrades, so consider reviewing them before upgrading.  Finally, check Cisco’s online community and support forums to see how other people are doing with upgrade paths.

According to Cisco, the steps that are most often overlooked in firmware upgrades: not updating the OS drivers to meet the compatibility matrix; forgetting to back up the system prior to upgrade and not upgrading the blade BIOS & Board Controller.  It’s important to carefully consider these recommended planning steps because if you run into issues down the road and Cisco finds out that a driver or firmware is out of the support matrix, they won’t be able to help you move forward until you are in compliance.  Cisco’s recommendation is to use the UCS HW and SW Interoperability Matrix for a reference on what is supported.

UCS_Interoperability_Matrix

#3 – Use Maintenance Windows for UCS Upgrades

Although you could feasibly do upgrades during the day, it’s not worth the risk.  Cisco TAC advises that all upgrades be done in a maintenance window – especially when doing changes to Fabric Interconnects.  Doing updates to one blade is fine, but since everything goes through the Fabric Interconnects, wait until you can get a maintenance window.  Better to be safe than sorry.

#4 – Backup UCSM

Although you have two Fabric Interconnects and redundancy, you still need to back up UCSM.    You have four different options, full state; system configuration, logical configuration and all configuration.  It’s recommended to do a full state (encrypted, and intended for Disaster Recovery.)  The System Configuration option is XML based (not encrypted) but can be used to export into other Fabric Interconnects as needed.  Logical Configuration is similar to the System Configuration but contains details on Service Profiles, VLANs, VSANs, pools & policies.

#5 – Use Fiber Channel Port Channels with Fiber Storage

Individual Fiber Channel uplinks can have high latency issues.  Since the HBAs are given fcid’s based on when they come across via round robin, there is no way of distributing the loads – they are equally distributed.  This becomes a problem with HBAs using accessing the storage a lot, or if you lose a link.  To resolve, you have to manually balance the HBAs.  With Fiber Channel Port Channels, all individual links are seen as one logical link allowing heavy workloads are equally distributed and preventing the loss of one down link from impacting the performance.

#5 – Insure Your A-Side and B-Side Fiber Channel Switches Remain Separated

Many people want to put an ISL between Fiber Channel Switches however the zoning goes to both sides and if a mistake is made on one side, it’ll take out the other.  Also, don’t connect your Fabric Interconnects to two separate Fiber Channel Switches.  Keep FI #1 attached to FC Switch #1 and FI #2 attached to FC Switch #2.

UCS_FC_Best_Practices

#6 – Don’t Use 3rd Party Transceivers

Pay the premium for Cisco transceivers and avoid unnecessary issues or faults.

#7 – Degraded DIMM Faults May Not Be Accurate

Cisco TAC admitted that Cisco had conservative thresholds for ECC errors on UCS which caused for more alarms than necessary.  These false alarms were fixed in firmware versions 2.2(1b) and 2.1(3c).  If you are experiencing these issues and are outside your maintenance window, you can safely ignore the ‘degraded DIMM’ faults until you upgrade or RMA the degraded DIMM.  Turn on DIMM blacklisting to mark DIMMs with uncorrectable DIMM errors as bad in 2.2(1b).

 

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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How Many NICs Do You Use for Virtualization? http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/07/how-many-nics-do-you-use-for-virtualization/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/07/how-many-nics-do-you-use-for-virtualization/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:54:04 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2653 Quick poll to see what your typical NIC design is for your virtual environment deployed on blade servers.  Please take a minute to answer.

 

 

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at [...]]]> Quick poll to see what your typical NIC design is for your virtual environment deployed on blade servers.  Please take a minute to answer.

 

 

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

 

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

 

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Cisco Announces New UCS Fabric Interconnect http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/07/cisco-announces-new-ucs-fabric-interconnect/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/07/cisco-announces-new-ucs-fabric-interconnect/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:26:10 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2638 This month Cisco announced a new addition to the UCS family – a mini Fabric Interconnect, called the UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect, which unlike the ones before it plugs directly into the UCS 5108 chassis.  With connectivity for up to 15 servers (8 blade servers and up to 7 direct-connect rack servers), the 6324 is [...]]]> This month Cisco announced a new addition to the UCS family – a mini Fabric Interconnect, called the UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect, which unlike the ones before it plugs directly into the UCS 5108 chassis.  With connectivity for up to 15 servers (8 blade servers and up to 7 direct-connect rack servers), the 6324 is geared toward small environments.

6324 FI Overview

Cisco_UCS_6324FIEach 6324 FI module contains:

  • 16 x 10GbE internal ports (2 per 1/2 width slot)
  • 4 x 10Gb SFP+ external uplink ports
  • 1 x 40Gb QSFP+ scalability port
  • 1 x 10/100/1000 Mbps Management port for out-of-band management

 

The 4 external uplink ports can be configured as 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet or 2/4/8-Gbps Fibre Channel ports.  The scalability port is designed to allow for connectivity to up to 4 x UCS rack servers with a post-release feature of also allowing a 2nd UCS 5108 chassis to interconnect.

The 6324 FI provides Layer 2 forwarding with support for:

  • VLAN trunks
  • IEEE 802.1Q VLAN encapsulation
  • Support for up to 512 VLANs and 32 virtual SANs (VSANs) per interconnect
  • Jumbo frames on all ports (up to 9216 bytes)
  • Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP): IEEE 802.3ad
  • Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) Versions 1, 2, and 3 snooping
  • Advanced EtherChannel hashing based on Layer 2, 3, and 4 information
  • Pause frames (IEEE 802.3x)
  • Layer 2 IEEE 802.1p (class of service [CoS])

It is also rumored that UPDATEDbased on the information from UCSGuru (below) a new an updated UCS 5108 blade chassis will be coming out soon which will allow for heartbeat and cluster connectivity between the UCS 6324 FI modules inside a chassis as well as support for “dual voltage” power supplies.

Here is a list of additional blogs and websites to visit for more information:

 

Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect Spec Sheet: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/servers-unified-computing/ucs-6300-series-fabric-interconnects/datasheet-c78-732207.pdf

“The baby UCS” from TJ’s Thoughts:
http://www.tbijlsma.com/2014/07/a-baby-ucs/

“Mini version of Cisco UCS Review – Part 1” from LostDomain.org:
http://lostdomain.org/2014/07/15/mini-version-of-cisco-ucs-review-part-1/

“Introducing the Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect!” – from Partly Cloudy:
http://thepartlycloudyblog.com/introducing-the-cisco-ucs-6324-fabric-interconnect/

“Cisco UCS has had a baby (Mother and Daughterboard doing well)” from UCSGuru.com:
http://ucsguru.com/2014/07/22/cisco-ucs-has-had-a-baby-mother-and-daughterboard-doing-well/

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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The Secret to How Cisco Took the #1 Blade Server Spot http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/06/the-secret-to-how-cisco-took-the-1-blade-server-spot/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/06/the-secret-to-how-cisco-took-the-1-blade-server-spot/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 22:01:19 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2627 IDC and Cisco confirmed this week that Cisco has taken the #1 x86 blade server spot in North America for Q1 in 2014 with 40% revenue market share according to a recent CRN report.  This is quite an accomplishment especially since Cisco has only been reporting their numbers for 3 years.  [...]]]> IDC and Cisco confirmed this week that Cisco has taken the #1 x86 blade server spot in North America for Q1 in 2014 with 40% revenue market share according to a recent CRN report.  This is quite an accomplishment especially since Cisco has only been reporting their numbers for 3 years.  So you might wonder – what is the secret to Cisco’s success?  I have a few ideas (right or wrong) that might shed some light on why Cisco is having success in their blade server business. 

Cisco’s UCS Design is Different

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but when you look at Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) you see that it is a different server design compared to others in the marketplace.  The overall architecture design is implemented as a “system” instead of individual components.  To explain, all other blade servers on the market use integrated networking / storage fabrics within the blade chassis whereas Cisco extends the fabric outside each chassis to a pair of Fabric Interconnects (FI) which not only act to switch the network traffic for the blade chassis but also acts as the centralized management for the server infrastructure. Compared to other blade server offerings on the market, Cisco’s design could be perceived as a simpler model.  When you combine that with its uniqueness, Cisco’s UCS is an interesting product to look at.

Everyone At Cisco Wants to Sell UCS

I’ve heard stories in the past that Cisco was giving UCS chassis to key customers.  If that was true, it’s pretty smart marketing because it makes it easy for customers to buy more .  Regardless of if whether or not Cisco is seeding top customers with UCS, the reality is that they are putting a lot of focus on selling UCS.  I used to joke that even the receptionist at a Cisco office would talk about UCS to you, but the truth of the matter is it appears that every Cisco employee believes that UCS is the best thing since sliced bread.  (If you don’t believe that is true – try and say something negative on social media about UCS and see how quickly you are lit up.)  Between getting a free product to try and hearing enough people saying something is great the results are the same – you are you’re going to want to try it.  IN addition to having employees who are passionate about selling UCS, Cisco has done a great job of getting their partners on the bandwagon.  It seems like every week another partner has a press release obtaining certification to sell UCS so I can imagine Cisco offers a really good incentive program to sell UCS.  Focus, passion and man power always leads to success.

Fewer Products to Sell Allows More Focus on UCS

I know this one will probably prompt some negative feedback from Cisco, but this is a thought I’ve had for a long time.  Cisco doesn’t have as many products to sell so they can focus more on selling UCS.  Yes, I know that Cisco has a large product portfolio, but when you summarize it they fall into 4 groups: Networking, Security, Collaboration or Servers.  Not only do HP, Dell and IBM/Lenovo sell the same type of solutions as Cisco but they also have PCs, peripherals, software, and storage making it harder to focus on “blade server sales.”  For the Cisco sales teams, fewer products means more focused selling – especially when it comes to blade servers.

The Network Is Cisco So Adding Servers is Easier

Cisco has been the market leader in networking for years and have a presence in most IT environments.  If the network is down nearly everything is affected, so in many environments the network infrastructure is off limits – once it is stable, it is not changed.  The networking teams in many organizations are vital in architecture discussions since they are tasked with insuring that any additions to the environment do not affect network uptime or performance.  When it comes down to it, the networking teams rule the datacenter – which is yet another reason that Cisco has been successful in selling UCS.  While not always the case, Cisco servers working with Cisco networking could be seen as posing less of a risk to the network.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few observations about Cisco’s success that I’ve accumulated over the past few years.  Did I get it right?  Do you have different ideas or opposing thoughts – I welcome any comments below.  Congratulations to Cisco for doing a great job increasing their footprint in the blade server market.  It’s obvious HP, Dell and IBM/Lenovo have their work cut out for them.  Taking a look at why Cisco has had success with UCS may help other vendors grow blade server market share in the future. 

 

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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IDC Reports Increased Blade Server Growth in Q1 2014 http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/05/idc-reports-increased-blade-server-growth-in-q1-2014/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/05/idc-reports-increased-blade-server-growth-in-q1-2014/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 20:56:03 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2621 The quarterly IDC Worldwide Server Tracker was released on May 28, 2014 and it reported that in spite of a decrease in overall server sales, blade servers continue to increase with HP leading the way.  To save you the task of reading all of the irrelevant server data, here’s a summary of their blade server [...]]]> The quarterly IDC Worldwide Server Tracker was released on May 28, 2014 and it reported that in spite of a decrease in overall server sales, blade servers continue to increase with HP leading the way.  To save you the task of reading all of the irrelevant server data, here’s a summary of their blade server findings:

image

 

As a personal commentary, this quarter’s Worldwide server tracker contains the least amount of information about blade servers since I started covering it in 2010.  It’s quite apparent they have assigned this tool to a new analyst, but I’m hoping they will change the data they release in their press release for Q2 to be more focused on blade servers.

If you want to read the entire press release, please visit http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS24890714

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX Gets An Upgrade http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/05/dells-poweredge-vrtx-gets-an-upgrade/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/05/dells-poweredge-vrtx-gets-an-upgrade/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 19:06:54 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2617 The past few months have seen some long awaited new additions to Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX system.  In an effort to prevent this from being an “all Dell” blog, I’ve held off writing about these new additions until today.  In a quick summary, the new additions include: 2nd PERC, added support for VMware ESXi [...]]]> The past few months have seen some long awaited new additions to Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX system.  In an effort to prevent this from being an “all Dell” blog, I’ve held off writing about these new additions until today.  In a quick summary, the new additions include: 2nd PERC, added support for VMware ESXi 5.5, added support for the M820 blade server and the ability to repurpose blade servers from the M1000e.  Let’s dig into each of these.

2nd Shared PowerEdge RAID Controller (SPERC)

pevrtx_les_00090_openWhen the PowerEdge VRTX was announced last June, many datacenter customers wondered why is there only one Shared PERC?  Sure, a single RAID adapter works on a rack server, but that’s a single server.  With VRTX you are able to support up to 4 servers, so a single PERC wasn’t satisfactory as it became a “single point of failure.”  The reality of the situation is there was always a plan for a 2nd PERC (as exhibited by early marketing photos showing dual PERCs) however Dell encountered unexpected engineering delays that pushed out the release of the 2nd PERC until last month. 

The 2nd PERC is set up in an Active/Passive design so that if the primary PERC fails, the secondary PERC will assume the load without any data loss.  Ideally this resolves the concerns about a single PERC being a single point of failure.  One thing to be aware of that seems to be catching some people by surprise.  In an Active/Passive design the PERC’s cache is shifted from Write-back to Write-through which may cause a slight decrease in performance (depending on the workload.) The 2nd PERC is available to order at point of sale or as a customer-installable post sale kit.  However, be advised that it requires adding an additional SAS riser board, and SAS cables as well as the 2nd PERC so consider getting an installation service so help get it in place.  Here is a list of post-sale part #’s:

Dell Part # Description

386-BBBM

Dual SPERC8 Upgrade for VRTX 3.5 Chassis, Cus Kit, RECOMMEND SVC INSTALL SKUs 996-3219 and 984-1037

386-BBBN

Dual SPERC8 Upgrade for VRTX 2.5 Chassis, Cus Kit, RECOMMEND SVC INSTALL SKUs 996-3219 and 984-1037

Demartek recently published a technical white paper on their findings with the 2nd PERC.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and check it out: http://www.demartek.com/Reports_Free/Demartek_Dell_VRTX_SPERC8_Failover_Evaluation_2014-05.pdf (1.5MB, PDF)

Support for VMware ESXi 5.5 (Finally)

One of the initial use cases for the PowerEdge VRTX focused on extending virtualization to remote environments.  At launch, Dell supported VMware ESXi 5.1 however shortly after VMware released 5.5.  Unfortunately, while Dell added support for ESXi 5.5 on the PowerEdge server family, VRTX was not included.  (From what I understand, the delay was associated with getting the Shared PERC driver to work with ESXi 5.5.)  Although long awaited, support for ESXi 5.5 is now available for use with both a single or dual PERC design.  Here’s the link to the Dell / VMware ESXi 5.5 ISO which includes the driver for the PERC.  Getting VMware to recognize the PERC requires no additional steps if you use the ISO – it shows up as “Shared PERC 8 Mini” on the host’s Storage Adapters tab.  Once the imageShared PERC is seen, then you add storage (Configuration tab > Storage > Add Storage) and you are all set.  If you haven’t seen how ESXi sees the Shared PERC here’s a screenshot.  Dell published a nice whitepaper titled “Configuring Dell PowerEdge VRTX shared storage for VMware vSphere Environment” designed to assist in helping you install ESXi on VRTX. 

Support for PowerEdge M820

imageThe Dell PowerEdge M820 is a full-height, 4 CPU server based on the Intel E5-4600 v2 CPU supporting up to 12 cores per CPU.  Your first thought may be, who needs a 4 CPU system in a remote environment?  The answer is – not many people,  however if you consider using VRTX within the datacenter for Test/Dev or for specific projects, the M820 may be more appealing.  The PowerEdge M820 specs include:

  • up to 4 x 12 core Intel E5-4600 v2 CPUs
  • 48 DIMM slots
  • 4 x Hot-Swap HDD bays (available only to the server node)
  • Up to 4 x 1/10GbE NIC ports (LOM)
  • Connectivity to up to 4 x PCIe slots on the VRTX chassis

As you may notice in the image above, the PowerEdge M820 is a full-height form factor so when used it will reduce the server expansion to another M820 blade or 2 x half-height compute nodes.  [The VRTX image shown is the rack version.  It is available as a tower model as well.]

Support for M1000e Chassis Blade Servers

If you didn’t know, the servers used with the Dell PowerEdge VRTX are the exact same blade servers that Dell uses in the PowerEdge M1000e chassis.  The difference between a blade server used in the M1000e and one used in the VRTX is the firmware and the addition of PCIe mezzanine cards in the mezzanine card slots (allows the blade server to communicate with VRTX’s PCIe slots.)   So, could you take a blade server from the M1000e and put it in the VRTX?  Up until recently, you “could” but a) it wouldn’t be supported and b) you couldn’t buy the PCIe mezzanine adapter cards.  Finally that has changed.  After numerous requests from customers and from Dell sales teams, Dell now offers customers the ability to purchase the PCIe mezzanine cards that will allow a M520, M620 or M820 blade server taken from the M1000e to work within the VRTX chassis.  This process is not very complex and doesn’t require (or recommend) any installation service.

Here is a list of post-sale part numbers:

Platform

Dell Part #

Description

M520, M620

330-BBBM

VRTX PCIe Pass-Through Mezzanine Adapter, Quantity 2, Customer Install

M820

330-BBBV

VRTX PCIe Pass-Through Mezzanine Adapter, Quantity 4, Customer Install

Before you ask – I’ve heard there are no plans to add support for the PowerEdge M420 or the EqualLogic PM-4110 storage blade.  I don’t know why but I don’t think many people are losing sleep over that decision.

As you can see, Dell is continuing to invest into the PowerEdge VRTX chassis with more coming later this year, including the addition of next generation blade servers.  If you have any questions, or would like to know more about the PowerEdge VRTX, please leave a comment below or reach out to me directly at kevin AT bladesmadesimple.com

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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Fixing HP BladeSystem Problems – Easy to Do http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/04/fixing-hp-bladesystem-problems-easy-to-do/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/04/fixing-hp-bladesystem-problems-easy-to-do/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:04:00 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2625 I’ll lift up the curtain and tell you I rely on Google Alerts to help me find blade server related topics to write about.  This is the best way for me to catch news, or topics that would otherwise be missed. 

A few weeks ago I received an alert titled, “HP [...]]]> I’ll lift up the curtain and tell you I rely on Google Alerts to help me find blade server related topics to write about.  This is the best way for me to catch news, or topics that would otherwise be missed. 

A few weeks ago I received an alert titled, “HP BladeSystem c7000 Enclosure – Blade Servers Do Not Power On”, so it got my attention.  As I clicked through, I found myself on HP’s site where HP discussed the issue, as well as the solution (in this case, insuring you imagehad the right number of fans in the correct slots.)  This was pretty impressive, so I started digging around. Navigating up one level took me to the “Top issues for HP BladeSystem c7000 Enclosures” page which only had one posting.  However, in the left navigation bar, there are several other sections that may be useful to HP BladeSystem owners including, Advisories, Bulletins & Notices, Manuals, Troubleshoot a problem and Setup & Install just to name a few.

I’m not sure if this section of HP’s website is well-known or a hidden gem, but I hope you’ll take advantage of it as an HP customer so that it will help you resolve any HP blade server issues you come across.

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

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IDC Reports Worldwide Blade Server Market Revenues Increase in Q4 2013 http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/03/idc-reports-worldwide-server-market-revenues-declines-3-7-q3-2013/ http://bladesmadesimple.com/2014/03/idc-reports-worldwide-server-market-revenues-declines-3-7-q3-2013/#comments Sun, 16 Mar 2014 23:34:35 +0000 http://bladesmadesimple.com/?p=2536 IDC came out with their Q4 2013 worldwide server market revenue report on February 27, 2014.  Unfortunately I missed the announcement due to email issues, so I’ve decided to streamline things and summarize the report.

 

iCharts

“Blades and density optimized servers account for a quarter of server market [...]]]> IDC came out with their Q4 2013 worldwide server market revenue report on February 27, 2014.  Unfortunately I missed the announcement due to email issues, so I’ve decided to streamline things and summarize the report.

 

image

“Blades and density optimized servers account for a quarter of server market revenue, up from one fifth a year ago,” said Kuba Stolarski, Research Manager, Servers at IDC “That is further evidence that the shift towards public cloud hyperscale deployments on one hand, and private clouds on integrated systems on the other, is real and significant. Since a large portion of hyperscale is still deployed on rack-mounted servers, the potential for modular design growth in the near future is substantial.”

 

For the full IDC report covering the Q4 2013 Worldwide Server Market, please visit IDC’s website at http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS24704714

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com. He has over 15 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace. Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization. Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global 500 market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.  This content is published for reference information without any financial gain.

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