HP c3000 BladeSystem strikes with precision
Compact and powerful system stands tall above traditional servers and storage devicesFollow @infoworld
Keeping an eye on the meter
The c3000 deploys the small form factor, 2.5-inch disk drives not just on the storage blade but on every blade server. Thanks to the drives' lower power requirements, this approach should save some energy and produce less heat while delivering the same performance of larger drives.
HP ships some slick management tools with the system, such as Onboard Administrator, which offers a comprehensive administrative console from which you can manage all the components installed in the c3000, including blades, fans, and power supplies.
The app can also manage multiple blade systems from the same pane of glass, which makes for easy and efficient administration. For example, using OA, you can set up configurations to ensure the system can survive the failure of one or more fans or to balance power supply across different sources.
In addition, admins can use Onboard Administrator to keep an eye on how much energy the whole system or each single blade is using. The temptation to hook up the machine to my hardware meter, Watts up Pro, and check the accuracy of those metrics was too strong to resist.
After adjusting the frequency of the samples to 5 minutes -- the same interval used by Onboard Administrator -- the two measurements didn’t fall too far apart. According to my tests, the c3000 absorbs around 700 watts when idle. But how does that compare to a mix of traditional servers and storage devices?
To measure that, I put together a similar configuration using conventional devices. First I lined up three 1U, single processor, dual-power supply HP ProLiant DL360 servers with two SCSI drives each. To that, I added an iSCSI storage enclosure with redundant power supply and fans and six SAS drives, along with an LTO 3 stand-alone tape and a Gigabit Ethernet switch.
Then I measured the power used by that setup when idle. My meter showed the conventional system using 772 watts, which translates into a significant 9 percent less power gulped by the blade system and possible into a desirable discount on your electric bill.
This doesn’t happen often, but at the end of my evaluation of the c3000, I can’t find any reason not to recommend it. After getting accustomed to the powerful management tools and the smooth ride offered by Shorty, getting back to stand-alone servers and storage devices is going back from driving a sleek sports car to a bumpy car with only rudimentary, basic gauges on the dashboard.
At about $3,000 -- the cost of one server blade plus software -- the price tag is comparable to that of a stand-alone server. However, the c3000 chassis adds about $5,000 to that amount, and it creates an incentive to purchase more units from the same vendor.
However, those price considerations are amply offset by the c3000's compact footprint, more efficient power and cooling, speed, and ultimately less costly administration. The ability to handle network and storage connections sans a jungle of cables not only means a tidier server rack; it enables hands-off, remote administration tasks that would be impossible otherwise.