[THIN] RE: [THIN] Re: OT: Blade Servers

  • From: Evan Mann <emann@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2006 10:09:33 -0400

I'm a blade n00b, so I was hoping you could expand a little of the limitations 
you have seen using ESX and not being able to split up NICs.  The Dell Chassis 
has a few different I/O options.  PowerConnect switches, ethernet passthrough 
fiber channel passthrough, etc, so my thought was you can still have individual 
NICs for each Blade?

Dell also has an daughter card option for the Blades themselves for a Dual GigE 
NIC or a Dual GigE TOE NIC, so I see this as a way to get additional networking 
into your Blade, but there is only 1 daugther card option, so you get Dual GigE 
or Dual Fiber HBA, not both, which is probably something you'd want for an ESX 

-----Original Message-----
From: thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of 
Jeremy Saunders
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:41 AM
To: thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [THIN] Re: OT: Blade Servers

Yeh...you had to go there....didn't you Joe :) I assume you are talking about 
the lack of write back cache from the LSI 1030 controller. This can be an issue 
for some environments. However the new HS21's have write back cache. My 
understanding from asking lots of questions internally, is that the orginal 
design of the HS20's was more focused around booting from SAN.
I've used plenty of HS20's as Citrix servers, and have personally found that 
the lack of write back cache has not caused performance issues.

I know you and your customer had a bad IBM experience from some disgraceful 
customer service in the past, but we are not all bad. Out of 320,000 
employee's, you found the one or two bad apples that did not step up and help 
you. I am very sorry about what happened. But you need to get over it and move 
on and stop bagging IBM on this forum with every opportunity you get.


In the real world, there is no single server that has every feature you could 
ask for without any quirks. You will always find some issue somewhere along the 
lines that may relate to a sepcific application server, or a limitation 
introduced within your own environment. At the end of the day they will all do 
the same thing, and everyone has their own opinions and experiences. So I think 
rather than try and play the 3 vendors against each other, it's more 
constructive to understand why you want to go down the blade path and not stick 
to traditional servers, especially when Evan was talking about using some of 
them as ESX hosts. Even though we've had this conversation a few times on this 
forum, I'm not convinced that blades suites all environments.

Once you go down the blade path you lock yourself in. In other words, you need 
to fill the blade centre with blades in order to achieve your ROI. I guess many 
of you in the larger countries and environments don't have this problem (just 
like Rusty ordering 30 at a time), but I see this as being an issue in 
Australia, where the environments are not always as big. And then there are the 
limitations of blades, especially when adding NIC's, HBA's, etc.

Blades are great for Citrix servers, Web servers, Domain Controllers, etc, but  
once you start using them for ESX hosts, you start hitting limitations.

You can't divy up the NICs. Sure in ESX version 3 the Service Console can now 
share a NIC (and there was an unsupported hack for 2.5x), and you can also 
trunk (VLAN) them, but there is still the issue of available bandwidth to the 
blade. So when using blades as ESX hosts, your bottleneck will almost always be 
the NIC's. And then of course if your servers are old and don't have a PCI 
Express bus, the NIC's will share a PCI-X bus, and compete against each other 
for bandwidth.

With a standard rack mount server, you can add NIC's, HBA's, etc.

So the answer would be to use the bigger (double size) blades, which take up 
two slots. Well these are expensive, so what's the point of filling your blade 
centre up with these, as you will blow out your ROI.

Some time ago I advised a couple of customers to go down the blade centre path 
because it seemed like the right way to go. Sure they filled it, and have 
achieved ROI, but now that we are introducing ESX into their environment, and 
after doing the sums, we are hitting some Archtectural/Design limitations when 
considering using some of the bades as ESX hosts. And now I'm annoyed with 
myself that I didn't understand how these limitations would effect their 
environment once we start looking into using ESX for DR and Business Continuity.

Don't get me wrong, I love working with blades, and this issue will not concern 
everybody, but you need to make sure they will provide you with what you need.

If you are puchasing Dell, then get the Dell Server SE in for a whiteboard 
session, and likewise for HP and IBM.

Sorry for getting carried away and going off topic a bit, but I often don't 
think people look at the bigger picture when purchasing blade hardware.

 Kind regards,                                                  
 Jeremy Saunders                                                
 Senior Technical Specialist                                    
 Infrastructure Technology Services                             
 (ITS) & Cerulean                                               
 Global Technology Services (GTS)                               
 IBM Australia                                                  
 Level 2, 1060 Hay Street                                       
 West Perth  WA  6005                                           
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 P:  +61 8 9261 8412                F:  +61 8 9261 8486         
 M:  TBA                            E-mail:                     

             "Joe Shonk"                                                   
             com>                                                       To 
             Sent by:                  thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx                  
             thin-bounce@freel                                          cc 
                                       [THIN] Re: OT: Blade Servers        
             21/09/2006 08:23                                              
             Please respond to                                             

Actually,  all three vendors have tight integration with Altiris (for HP
it's call RDP, but it's just Altiris with the HP logo).   I'm not quite
sure why you think IBM is better than Dell?  The Dell at least come with a real 
RAID controller... HP's SAS controller is crap and IBM, well let's just say the 
HS20s (8843) was nothing short of a cluster ......  On the bright side, HP 
blades do support Opterons processor unlike Dell...  If your planning to 
running anything like VMware ESX on blades, the Opterons are the way to go.


On 9/20/06, Rusty Yates <rusty27@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
  We are using Dell OpenManager right now and the on board management for
  the blade chassis (which is ok) nothing like IBM.  But when we were
  looking at IBM, HP and Dell we knew IBM and HP were better but for what
  we needed Dell was better and we got more servers for the money.  This
  year we are looking at Altiris which has a piece that is designed just
  for Dell.  Looks sweet and pricing isn't that bad.

  On 9/19/06, Evan Mann < emann@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
   Are you using OpenManage or 3rd party for management? I've never been
   impressed with OpenManage for non-Blade servers, but I'd imagine the
   Blade variant is much different.

   From: thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
   Behalf Of Rusty Yates
   Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 12:56 PM
   To: thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
   Subject: [THIN] Re: OT: Blade Servers

   In our environment we are running the Dell 1855 Blades and haven't run
   into any problems.  Next year we will buy the 1955 models.

   On 9/19/06, Evan Mann <emann@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
     It looks like I'm going to be moving into the land of Blade servers.
     We're a Dell shop, so Dell 1955's are what is being looked at right
     now. I want to put together a host list of key items to make sure
     these things have/support.  Memory backed RAID cache and power issues
     are the only thing I have on the list now, since that was the main
     issues I've seen come across the list.  Obviously, management of the
     blade chassis is important.

     If it's useful, here is what we are planning to do with the Blades:
     There is no intention of moving our Citrix farm to blades, but we are
     deploying a new business level app using VMWare ESX3.  This new app
     will utilize web servers and SQL servers.  The web farms will be in
     ESX and will utilize an application load balancer, the SQL servers
     (starting with 1) will likely not be in ESX, but that is undecided.

     We will have a fiber connected SAN as well, but the plan isn't to boot
     off the SAN (right now at least).  It is unknown if we will connect
     the entire blade chassis to the SAN, or servers individually. It
     depends on the cost of the fiber switches.

     We are doing a lot of server consolidation as well to 2 existing 2850
     (dual 3.4ghz Xeon's) running ESX3.  As we need more capacity, we will
     use additional Blades for ESX 3 and consolidation.

     The 10 blade chassis specs out to about 6k.  Each 3ghz Dual Core
     (woodcrest) blade with 16 gigs of RAM, 2x75gig SAS drives and dual
     Broadcom TOE GigE/dual QLogic Fiber HBA's will run us about $6600
     (including warranty/support)

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