Blades vs Servers (619 Views)
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Outstanding Contributor
Pete Randall
Posts: 16,205
Registered: ‎11-03-1996
Message 1 of 7 (619 Views)

Blades vs Servers

It's getting to be time to replace my aging rp7410/va7410 production/development environment and I'm wrestling with question of whether to go with blade or server architecture.  Our environment is primarily an Informix DB server with several TB of storage and Data Protector with several standalone tape drives for backup.

 

In my simplistic view, they seem to accomplish the same function so there is no effective difference.  Can anyone offer any high level overview type arguments for one platform vs the other?


Pete
Honored Contributor
Duncan Edmonstone
Posts: 5,684
Registered: ‎08-05-2000
Message 2 of 7 (613 Views)

Re: Blades vs Servers

Pete,

 

If you are going to buy any of the latest generation of servers, then you really don't have much choice, as the only non-bladed server in the Integrity range is the rx2800 (although with up to 8 Tukwila cores I'd expect that to have similar or better performance than a rp7410), so the question may be irrelevant.

 

In my head, blades become important when you are deploying more than 2 or 3 discrete servers at a time - its difficult to get the TCA costs to stack up for deploying a blde enclosure with just a single blade in it, but as soon as you get 3-4 blades or more the benefits in terms of cabling, power and network/storage aggregation start to stack up.

 

So the question is, where are you starting from? Are you replacing a single server, with no expectation of buying any more servers (IA64 or x86) in the medium term? If so, a blade solution might not make any sense...


HTH

Duncan
Trusted Contributor
donna hofmeister
Posts: 191
Registered: ‎08-29-2008
Message 3 of 7 (613 Views)

Re: Blades vs Servers

(http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/GetPDF.aspx/4AA1-4286ENW.pdf)

 

it could just be me....but i sure get the impression that blades are really meant for "not hp-ux".  oh ja sure, all the documentation says you can do it...but my (see my opening phrase...) warm-fuzziness level is just not there.

 

keep in mind that when you buy a blade, you have to buy this and this and this and this too to make it all work.  it's a level of complexity that fails to impress (me).  (anyone remember the old hp ordering system with all the options...i think this is an order of magnitude beyond that :-)

Honored Contributor
Duncan Edmonstone
Posts: 5,684
Registered: ‎08-05-2000
Message 4 of 7 (609 Views)

Re: Blades vs Servers

Donna,

 

Where you have one system I'd agree - but 10, 20 30 100 systems? In that situation I'd sooner manage 100 blades than 100 standalone servers all with their own power, network, SAN connections etc... this is why blades started off in the x86 world where there is already a proliferation of small systems - in the UNIX world, now that mostly the only people who still use UNIX are the big organisations with hundreds of servers, blades make sense there as well...

 

Just my opinion though


HTH

Duncan
Trusted Contributor
donna hofmeister
Posts: 191
Registered: ‎08-29-2008
Message 5 of 7 (608 Views)

Re: Blades vs Servers

your original reply beat mine by a couple of minutes...and your many-machine-deployment reasoning is well-taken,

 

(but it's still very complex, imo)   

Honored Contributor
Bill Hassell
Posts: 14,225
Registered: ‎05-29-2000
Message 6 of 7 (564 Views)

Re: Blades vs Servers

Blades make no sense at all if you need only 5 or 10 servers. The rx2660 or rx2800 can be stacked 10 high in a single cabinet and are IMMENSELY easier to administer. Anyone that is on HP's mailing list for firmware updates will agree that blades and enclosures have huge problems with critical alerts. Blade systems are very complex to order, setup and keep running. And it easy to make sysadmin mistakes in the enclosure that can disable every blade in the box.

 

Comparing an rx2660 to your rp7410, the CPU and internal disk performance is a LOT better, and takes 1/10 the amount of power. You can fill the 8 rx2660/rx2800 disk slots with 900 GB SAS drives and have more than 7 TB in each 2U high server.

 

If you need a dozen or more servers replaced, and all your applications are Itanium/11.31 compatible, then replacing the rp7410s with a couple of blade enclosures makes sense. Be sure you have HP configure the parts -- there are a lot of very different components and they all have to be specified correctly. And take the HP blade class. The reference books are pretty thick to absorb in your spare time.

 

On the other hand, I installed an rx2660 without even opening a manual.

Honored Contributor
Bill Hassell
Posts: 14,225
Registered: ‎05-29-2000
Message 7 of 7 (437 Views)

Re: Blades vs Servers

Another consideration in planning for blades:

 

The endless firmware updates will require a fulltime maintenance person to track and rollout the changes. It is so bad that a collection of several blade boxes will stop communicating with each other (blade management such as HP SIM) until all the new and old boxes are at the latest firmware level. Additionally, replacing a bad blade with a new one may require a chassis update (and possibly all the other boxes in the data center), and may also require patches to the OS *before* you install the replacement blade.

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