Blade server shoot-out: Dell vs. HP vs. Sun
InfoWorld's head-to-head comparison proves blade servers are sharp enough for enterprise useFollow @pvenezia
Management ups and downs
BladeSystem runs its own internal management console, accessible via the Web, that can stand alone or be integrated into an HP Insight Manager installation. Multiple c-Class chassis may be managed collectively in this manner, regardless of whether Insight Manager is in place, which is quite useful for large data centers. Administrator-driven tools offer a wide array of monitoring options, from current and maximum power utilization and environmental data to blade health and performance information.
Internal chassis management is even more impressive. The chassis has enough smarts to determine the heat and power loads present and advise admins on proper fan population and placement. It will adapt power supplies as needed and where needed, as well as drop power levels to quiescent blades when possible. This results in lower heat production and power consumption, which are hot buttons (pun intended) as far as blade development and deployment go.
Not everything with the HP blade, however, worked as smoothly as its chassis management. The console redirection available in each blade's ILO cards was somewhat lacking, with problematic mouse tracking and display artifacts. This can be very irritating when work must be performed directly to the console of each blade. The only other console redirection method involves using a front-mounted dongle port to connect a keyboard, monitor, and mouse directly to each blade. Not pretty, but it does work.
We also encountered a few oddities with the chassis, including one blade that seemed to have intermittent connectivity problems and another that spontaneously lost contact with its internal SmartArray RAID controller. It's highly likely that the pre-release nature of the blades contributed to these issues.
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Sun Blade 8000 Modular System
Although the other blade solutions in our test ranged in size from 7U to 10U, Sun's system came in the door at a whopping 19U. Of course, Sun's take on blades is a little different: It was the only blade solution to support four CPUs per blade, and can handle 10 blades per chassis. With dual-core AMD Opteron CPUs, this equates to 160 cores in a single 42U rack.
That rack had better have plenty of power and cooling, though, as the Sun Blade 8000 draws a significant amount of juice, requiring approximately 9kW (actual draw is generally lower). That's quite a lot compared with the HP and Dell blades, which pull roughly 3.6kW each. Luckily, the Sun system's density makes up for its power thirst.