Tag Archives: blade servers

HP Tech Day – Day 1 Recap

Wow – the first day of HP Tech Day 2010 was jammed pack full of meetings, presentations and good information.  Unfortunately, it appears there won’t be any confidential, earth shattering news to report on, but it has still been a great event to attend.

My favorite part of the day was going to the HP BladeSystem demo, where we not only got to get our hands on the blade servers, but we got to see what the mid-plane and power bus looks like outside the chassis. 

From HP Tech Day 2010

Kudos to James Singer, HP Blade engineer, who did a great job talking about the HP BladeSystem and all it offers.  My only advice to the HP events team is to double the time we get with the blades next time.  (Isn’t that why were were here?)

Since I spent most of the day Tweeting what was going on, I figured it would be easiest to just list my tweets throughout the day.  If you have any questions about any of this, let me know.

My tweets from 2/25/2010 (latest to earliest):

Q&A from HP StorageWorks CTO, Paul Perez

  • “the era of spindles for IOPS will be over soon.” Paul Perez, CTO HP StorageWorks
  • CTO Perez said Memristors (http://tinyurl.com/39f6br) are the next major evolution in storage – in next 2 or 3 years
  • CTO Perez views Solid State (Drives) as an extension of main memory.
  • HP StorageWorks CTO, Paul Perez, now discussing HP StorageWorks X9000 Network Storage System (formerly known as IBRIX)
  • @SFoskett is grilling the CTO of HP StorageWorks
  • Paul Perez – CTO of StorageWorks is now in the room

Competitive Discussion

  • Kudos to Gary Thome , Chief Architect at HP, for not wanting to bash any vendor during the competitive blade session
  • Cool – we have a first look at a Tolly report comparing HP BladeSystem Flex-10 vs Cisco UCS…
  • @fowen Yes – a 10Gb, a CNA and a virtual adapter. Cisco doesn’t have anything “on the motherboard” though.
  • RT @fowen: HP is the only vendor (currently) who can embed 10GB nics in Blades @hpbladeday AND Cisco…
  • Wish HP allowed more time for deep dive into their blades at #hpbladesday. We’re rushing through in 20 min content that needs an hour.
  • Dell’s M1000 blade chassis has the blade connector pins on the server side. This causes a lot of issues as pins bend
  • I’m going to have to bite my tongue on this competitive discussion between blade vendors…
  • Mentioning HP’s presence in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (see my previous post on this here) –> http://tinyurl.com/ydbsnan
  • Fun – now we get to hear how HP blades are better than IBM, Cisco and Dell

HP BladeSystem Matrix Demo

Insight Software Demo

  • Whoops – previous picture was “Tom Turicchi” not John Schmitz
  • John Schmitz, HP, demonstrates HP Insight Software http://tinyurl.com/yjnu3o9
  • HP Insight Control comes with “Data Center Power Control” which allows you to define rules for power control inside your DC
  • HP Insight Control = “Essential Management”; HP Insight Dynamics = “Advanced Management”
  • Live #hpBladesday Tweet Feed can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/ygcaq2a

BladeSystem in the Lab

  • c7000 Power Bus (rear) http://tinyurl.com/yjy3kwy #hpbladesday complete list of pics can be found @ http://tinyurl.com/yl465v9
  • HP c7000 Power Bus (front) http://tinyurl.com/yfwg88t #hpbladesday (one more pic coming…)
  • HP c7000 Midplane (rear) http://tinyurl.com/yhozte6
  • HP BladeSystem C7000 Midplane (front) http://tinyurl.com/ylbr9rd
  • BladeSystem lab was friggin awesome. Pics to follow
  • 23 power “steppings” on each BladeSystem fan
  • 4 fan zones in a HP BladeSystem allows for fans to spin at different rates. – controlled by the Onboard Administrator
  • The designs of the HP BladeSystem cooling fans came from Ducted Electric Jet Fans from hobby planes) http://tinyurl.com/yhug94w
  • Check out the HP SB40c Storage Blade with the cover off : http://tinyurl.com/yj6xode
  • James Singer – talking about HP BladeSystem power (http://tinyurl.com/ykfhbb2)
  • DPS takes total loads and pushes on fewer supplies which maximizes the power efficiency
  • DPS – Dynamic Power Saver dynamically turns power supplies off based on the server loads (HP exclusive technology)
  • HP BladeSystem power supplies are 94% efficient
  • HP’s hot-pluggable equipment is not purple, it’s “port wine”
  • Here’s the HP BladeSystem C3500 (1/2 of a C7000) http://tinyurl.com/yhbpddt
  • In BladeSystem demo with James Singer (HP). Very cool. They’ve got a C3500 (C7000 cut in half.) Picture will come later.

 Lunch

  • Having lunch with Dan Bowers (HP marketing) and Gary Thome – talking about enhancements need for Proliant support materials

 Virtual Connect

ISB Overview and Data Center Trends 2010

  • check out all my previous HP posts at http://tinyurl.com/yzx3hx6
  • BladeSystem midplane doesn’t require transceivers, so it’s easy to run 10Gb at same cost as 1Gb
  • BladeSystem was designed for 10Gb (with even higher in mind.)
  • RT @SFoskett: Spot the secret “G” (for @GestaltIT?) in this #HPBladesDay Nth Generation slide! http://twitpic.com/159q23 
  • If Cisco wants to be like HP, they’d have to buy Lenovo, Canon and Dunder Mifflon
  • discussed how HP blades were used in Avatar (see my post on this here )–> http://tinyurl.com/yl32xud
  • HP’s Virtual Client Infra. Solutions design allows you to build “bricks” of servers and storage to serve 1000’s of virtual PCs
  • Power capping is built into HP hardware (it’s not in the software.)
  • Power Capping is a key technology in the HP Thermal Logic design.
  • HP’s Thermal Logic technology allows you to actively manage power overtime.
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More HP and IBM Blade Rumours

I wanted to post a few more rumours before I head out to HP in Houston for “HP Blades and Infrastructure Software Tech Day 2010” so it’s not to appear that I got the info from HP. NOTE: this is purely speculation, I have no definitive information from HP so this may be false info.

First off – the HP Rumour:
I’ve caught wind of a secret that may be truth, may be fiction, but I hope to find out for sure from the HP blade team in Houston.  The rumour is that HP’s development team currently has a Cisco Nexus Blade Switch Module for the HP BladeSystem in their lab, and they are currently testing it out.

Now, this seems far fetched, especially with the news of Cisco severing partner ties with HP, however, it seems that news tidbit was talking only about products sold with the HP label, but made by Cisco (OEM.)   HP will continue to sell Cisco Catalyst switches for the HP BladeSystem and even Cisco branded Nexus switches with HP part numbers (see this HP site for details.)  I have some doubt about this rumour of a Cisco Nexus Switch that would go inside the HP BladeSystem simply because I am 99% sure that HP is announcing a Flex10 type of BladeSystem switch that will allow converged traffic to be split out, with the Ethernet traffic going to the Ethernet fabric and the Fibre traffic going to the Fibre fabric (check out this rumour blog I posted a few days ago for details.)  Guess only time will tell.

The IBM Rumour:
I posted a few days ago a rumour blog that discusses the rumour of HP’s next generation adding Converged Network Adapters (CNA) to the motherboard on the blades (in lieu of the 1GB or Flex10 NICs), well, now I’ve uncovered a rumour that IBM is planning on following later this year with blades that will also have CNA’s on the motherboard.  This is huge!  Let me explain why. 

The design of IBM’s BladeCenter E and BladeCenter H have the 1Gb NICs onboard each blade server hard-wired to I/O Bays 1 and 2 – meaning only Ethernet modules can be used in these bays (see the image to the left for details.)  However, I/O Bays 1 and 2 are for “standard form factor I/O modules” while I/O Bays are for “high speed form factor I/O modules”.  This means that I/O Bays 1 and 2 can not handle “high speed” traffic, i.e. converged traffic. 

 This means that IF IBM comes out with a blade server that has a CNA on the motherboard, either:

 a) the blade’s CNA will have to route to I/O Bays 7-10
OR
b) IBM’s going to have to come out with a new BladeCenter chassis that allows the high speed converged traffic from the CNAs to connect to a high speed switch module in Bays 1 and 2.

So let’s think about this.  If IBM (and HP for that matter) does put CNA’s on the motherboard, is there a need for additional mezzanine/daughter cards?  This means the blade servers could have more real estate for memory, or more processors.   If there’s no extra daughter cards, then there’s no need for additional I/O module bays.  This means the blade chassis could be smaller and use less power – something every customer would like to have.

I can really see the blade market moving toward this type of design (not surprising very similar to Cisco’s UCS design) – one where only a pair of redundant “modules” are needed to split converged traffic to their respective fabrics.  Maybe it’s all a pipe dream, but when it comes true in 18 months, you can say you heard it here first.

Thanks for reading.  Let me know your thoughts – leave your comments below.

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Blade Networks Announces Industry’s First and Only Fully Integrated FCoE Solution Inside Blade Chassis

BLADE Network Technologies, Inc. (BLADE), “officially” announces today the delivery of the industry’s first and only fully integrated Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) solution inside a blade chassis.   This integration significantly reduces power, cost, space and complexity over external FCoE implementations.

You may recall that I blogged about this the other day (click here to read), however I left off one bit of information.  The (Blade Networks) BNT Virtual Fabric 10 Gb Switch Module does not require the QLogic Virtual Fabric Extension Module to function.  It will work with an existing Top-of-Rack (TOR) Convergence Switch from Brocade or Cisco to act as a 10Gb switch module, feeding the converged 10Gb link up to the TOR switch.  Since it is a switch module, you can connect as few as 1 uplink to your TOR switch, therefore saving connectivity costs, as opposed to a pass-thru option (click here for details on the pass-thru option.) 

Yes – this is the same architectural design as the Cisco Nexus 4001i provides as well, however there are a couple of differences:

BNT Virtual Fabric Switch Module (IBM part #46C7191) – 10 x 10Gb Uplinks, $11,199 list (U.S.)
Cisco Nexus 4001i Switch (IBM part #46M6071) – 6 x 10Gb Uplinks, $12,999 list (U.S.)

While BNT provides 4 extra 10Gb uplinks, I can’t really picture anyone using all 10 ports.  However, it does has a lower list price, but I encourage you to check your actual price with your IBM partner, as the actual pricing may be different.  Regardless of whether you choose BNT or Cisco to connect into your TOR switch, don’t forget the transceivers!  They add much more $$ to the overall cost, and without them you are hosed.

About the BNT Virtual Fabric 10Gb Switch Module
The BNT Virtual Fabric 10Gb Switch Module includes the following features and functions:

  • Form-factor
    • Single-wide high-speed switch module (fits in IBM BladeCenter H bays #7 and 9.) 
  • Internal ports
    • 14 internal auto-negotiating ports: 1 Gb or 10 Gb to the server blades
    • Two internal full-duplex 100 Mbps ports connected to the management module
  • External ports
    • Up to ten 10 Gb SFP+ ports (also designed to support 1 Gb SFP if required, flexibility of mixing 1 Gb/10 Gb)
    • One 10/100/1000 Mb copper RJ-45 used for management or data
    • An RS-232 mini-USB connector for serial port that provides an additional means to install software and configure the switch module
  • Scalability and performance
    • Autosensing 1 Gb/10 Gb internal and external Ethernet ports for bandwidth optimization

To read the extensive list of details about this switch, please visit the IBM Redbook located here.

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Cisco Wants IBM’s Blade Servers??

In an unusual move Tuesday, Cisco CEO, John Chambers, commented that Cisco is still open to a blade server “partnership” with IBM.  “I still firmly believe that it’s in IBM’s best interests to work with us. That door will always be open,” Chambers told the audience at the Cisco’s financial analyst conference yesterday at Cisco’s HQ in San Jose. 

John Chambers and other executives spent much of the day talking with financial analysts about Cisco’s goal to become the preeminent IT and communications vendor because of the growing importance of virtualization, collaboration and video, a move demonstrated by their recent partnership announcement with EMC and VMware.  According to reports, analysts at the event said they think Chambers is sincere about his willingness to work with IBM. The two companies have much in common, such as their enterprise customer base, and Cisco’s products could fit into IBM’s offerings, said Mark Sue of RBC Capital Markets.

So – is this just a move for Cisco to tighten their relationship with IBM in the hopes of growing to an entity that can defeat HP and their BladeSystem sales, or has Cisco decided that the server market is best left to manufacturers who have been selling servers for 20+ years?  What are your thoughts?  Please feel free to leave some comments and let me know.

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IDC Q3 2009 Report: Blade Servers are Growing, HP Leads in Shares

IDC reported on Wednesday that blade server sales for Q3 2009 returned to quarterly revenue growth with factory revenues increasing 1.2% year over year.  However there was a 14.0% year-over-year shipment decline.  Overall blade servers accounted for $1.4 billion in Q3 2009 which represented 13.6% of the overall server revenue.  Of the top 5 OEM blade manufacturers, IBM experienced the strongest blade growth gaining 6.0 points of market share.  However, overall market share for Q3 2009 still belongs to HP with 50.7%, with IBM following up with 29.4% and Dell in 3rd place with a lowly 8.9% revenue share.Q3_2009_Blades According to Jed Scaramella, senior research analyst in IDC's Datacenter and Enterprise Server group,  "Customers are leveraging blade technologies to optimize their environments in response to the pressure of the economic downturn and tighter budgets. Blade technologies provide IT organizations the capability to simplify their IT while improving asset utilization, IT flexibility, and energy efficiency.  For the second consecutive quarter, the blade segment increased in revenue on a quarter-to-quarter basis, while simultaneously increasing their average sales value (ASV). This was driven by next generation processors (Intel Nehalem) and a greater amount of memory, which customers are utilizing for more virtualization deployments. IDC sees virtualization and blades are closely associated technologies that drive dynamic IT for the future datacenter."

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IBM Helps Use Blade Servers to Fight Fires

WildfiresOn Thursday, IBM plans to announce its work with university researchers to instantly process data for wildfire prediction — changing the delay time from every six hours to real-time. This will not only help firefighters control the blaze more efficiently, but deliver more informed decisions on public evacuations and health warnings.

The new joint project with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County allows for researches to analyze smoke patterns during wildfires by instantly processing the massive amounts of data available from drone aircraft, high-resolution satellite imagery and air-quality sensors, to develop more effective models for smoke dissipation using a cluster of IBM BladeCenters and IBM InfoSphere Streamsanalytics.   Today analysis of smoke patterns is limited to weather forecasting data, observations from front line workers and low resolution satellite imagery.  This new ability will provide fire and public safety officials with a real-time assessment of smoke patterns during a fire, which will allow them to make more informed decisions on public evacuations and health warnings.

Researchers expect to have a prototype of this new system available by next year.

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