Eye on Blades Blog: Trends in Infrastructure
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Displaying articles for: March 2009

8 Cool Projects found inside HP Labs

ComputerWorld took a tour recently of HP Labs to check out some of the things we're working on from the desktop to the datacenter.  We are really fortunate that we have these folks behind us.  What's even more fortunate for our customers is that these innovations find their way into real world products today.

Much of the Thermal Logic power and cooling technology in the BladeSystem and now Integrity and ProLiant servers is based on the ground breaking work of folks like Chandrakant Patel

Browse through this photo tour of 8 Cool Projects from HP Labs put together by ComputerWorld.

Question: What does “receive path validation” do and what could be the reason for the failure?

This one of the methods used to provide fail over for network traffic. 


From our BladeSystem support staff


"This is just a “redundancy mechanism” that is part of the HP Teaming driver.Not trying to over simply things but here it goes. NIC A and NIC B are teamed together. NIC A is receiving frames okay, NIC B has not received any frames.Teaming driver sends “Test Frame” out NIC A, sets timers and waits for NIC B to receive it. This is repeated a few times.If NIC B still has not received a frame after a few intervals, it is determined the RX (Receive) Path to this NIC is broken, thus NIC is marked as “Receive Path Validation” and is removed as an Active member of the team. This is a good thing because we don’t want a NIC in the team that can’t hear… So…either there is a problem with that NIC receiving frames (fix it) or there is a problem in the Teaming driver detecting “false” RX Path failures.Either way the recommendation is never to disable it as a solution to the problem.


Insight Control Software new naming convention cheat sheet.


Current Name

New Name


Marketing Changes

Product Changes

Insight Control Environment

HP Insight Control suite




Insight Control Environment for Linux

HP Insight Control suite for Linux




ProLiant Essentials Foundation Pack

HP Insight Foundation suite for ProLiant



Integrated Lights-Out 2 Standard

HP ProLiant Onboard Administrator




Integrated Lights-Out 2 Advanced Pack

HP Integrated Lights-Out 2 Advanced




Integrated Lights-Out 2 Advanced for BladeSystem

HP Integrated Lights-Out 2 Advanced for BladeSystem




Insight Power Manager

HP Insight Power Manager software


No change

No change

ProLiant Essentials Performance Management Pack

HP Insight Performance Manager module



ProLiant Essentials Rapid Deployment Pack

HP Insight Rapid Deployment software




Server Migration Pack – Universal Edition

HP Insight Server Migration software for ProLiant




HP System Insight Manager

HP Systems Insight Manager software


No change

No change

Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager

HP Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager software


No change

No change

Virtual Machine Management Pack

HP Insight Virtual Machine Manager software for ProLiant




ProLiant Essentials Vulnerability and Patch Management Pack

HP Insight Vulnerability and Patch Manager module




Learn more about Solid State Disks (SSDs)

With all the buzz about solid state disks (SSDs) you’d think it was a brand new thing. For over 25 years, technologies in the consumer world have been using solid state storage technology to improve how information is created and shared. information What’s new is the way business and technology trends are influencing the adoption of new solid state storage technology designs in the enterprise data center.

I ran across this website and a great tech brief about the good and bad of SSD technology so you can make up your own mind and decide if SSD is right for you.


How to order three-phase power module stand-alone for c7000!

Seems that we get a lot of questions on how to convert single phase power modules to 3-phase modules. Our technical staff tries to sum up the process.

 The problem:

"I have a partner who ordered a few enclosures with single-phase power per customer's suggestions.  Turns out customer now wants three-phase power.  The partner is looking to simply order the $175 three-phase power module stand-alone: 413380-B21.  They are unable to do so as it is an option to purchase only as an FIO orderable option with an enclosure on the HP site.  I know you can get the single-phase modules sent seperately and they've ordered those before.  Is there any way to do this for the three-phase module or a spare parts # to avoid a full return for a $175 part?"



Converting a Single Phase c7000 Enclosure to 3-Phase Enclosure and a 3-Phase Enclosure to a Single Phase Enclosure.


To do a conversion the appropriate Spare Part number must be ordered through spares. In North America, Service Spares can be ordered through the HP Parts Store at http://h20141.www2.hp.com/hpparts/default.asp?EE=InvChr


Local spare parts stores and spares distributors for other regions can be found at http://h20141.www2.hp.com/hpparts/country_choice.asp


Use the table below to order the correct spare part to replace the original module.


Spare Part  Description                                                          Plug Type

413495-001  3-Phase North America/Japan Input Module       L15-30P

413496-001  3-Phase International Input Module                    IEC309, Red, 5-Pin, 16A

413494-001  Single-Phase Power Input Module                     C19 - C20 Cord


It is the responsibility of the user to ensure that the correct receptacles and/or PDU Infrastructure are available prior to the conversion.  For more information on powering c-Class enclosures please consult the c-Class Site Planning Guide available at http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/cache/499697-0-0-0-121.html


A brief overview of the steps required is below but consult the c7000 Maintenance and Service guide for detailed removal and replacement instructions, this is available at http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/cache/316682-0-0-0-121.html


1. Power Down the Enclosure

2. Disconnect all power cables to the enclosure

3. Remove the hot-plug Power Supplies from the front of the enclosure

    NOTE: The input module is difficult to remove if the power supplies are inserted in the enclosure.

4. Undo the 3 screws on the input power module at the rear of the enclosure

5. Remove the Input Power Module

6. Replace with the new Input Power Module

7. Tighten the 3 screws to lock the module in place

8. Replace the hot-plug power supplies

9. Add additional hot-plug power supplies if required

   Note: The 3-Phase Module requires 3 or 6 Power Supplies to operate, extra power supplies should be ordered if necessary.

10. Reconnect the power cables

11. Power the enclosure on


The user then needs to connect to the Onboard Administrator via Telnet or SSH and login to the command line interface as an administrator.

The following command should then be run to set the appropriate input module type.


Set enclosure pdu_type x

      x = 1 = Single phase

      x = 2 = Three phase North America/Japan

      x = 3 = Three phase, International

      x = 4 = DC Power


More details on the Onboard Administrator Command Line Interface are available at http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/cache/316682-0-0-0-121.html in the

1. HP BladeSystem Onboard Administrator User Guide

2. HP BladeSystem Onboard Administrator User Guide Command Line Interface User Guide


As the Input Power Module is a Field Replaceable Part there are no warranty or support issues with replacing this item.


Hope this helps all you power hungry BladeSystem people out there.


Mike Klayko, CEO of Brocade nailed it

I'm a sucker for unscripted honesty.  Kudos to Mr. K for taking a deep breath after Cisco's UCS and Project California grandstanding to put some reality in front of the rhetoric. In less than 3 minutes, he really boiled all the hype down and simply articulated what a lot of our customers and partners are thinking too. 

My takeaway: ROI on CapEx in 12 months or less means it's not about our grandious vision of tomorrow, it's about helping you implement your vision of your data center today.  Keep the forklift in the warehouse.

Strategic Means Being Steadfast

Today, Cisco announced a new product that leverages network intelligence to provision resources together as virtualized services. This industry-first approach greatly reduces application deployment times, improves overall resource utilization, and offers greater business agility. Further, it includes an open API, and easily integrates with third party management applications, as well as best-of-breed server and storage virtualization offerings.


If this sounds like this weeks announcement by Cisco of their new Unified Computing System (UCS) you would be partially correct. The words in the above paragraph are basically the same as what was used this week at their announcement. However, the above words are actually what they used to describe their new VFrame Data Center 1.2 product when they announce it on July 24, 2007.


At that time, VFrame DC was touted as a key component for Cisco’s vision of next generation data centers, called Data Center 3.0.


However, this week during Cisco’s announcement of their Unified Computing System there was no mention of VFrame Data Center. Instead, they proclaimed that the next step in the Cisco Data Center 3.0 vision is their UCS.


No surprise then that it turns out that VFrame was quietly retired in February, less than 20 months after being announced by John Chambers at Cisco Live as a foundational element of Data Center 3.0.


So what does this mean to you? Well that brings me back to the title of this entry, “Strategic Means Being Steadfast”.


Cisco wants to be your strategic IT partner that you can now trust for all your data center needs. But do trusted partners abandon what they sell as cornerstone technology, with the result of abandoning customers such as you?


HP’s answer is an emphatic ‘no’.


An example: HP still enhances, still sells and still supports OpenVMS. In addition, OpenVMS is available on HP BladeSystem. Yet this is a product that was introduced in 1977, seven years before Cisco became a company.


Something to think about when you choose your strategic trusted IT partner.


Mike Kendall



Did we miss something?

Every time a competitor introduces a new product, we can't help but notice they suddenly get very interested in what HP is blogging during the weeks prior to their announcement.  Then when the competitor announces, the story is very self-congratulatory "we've figured out what the problem is with existing server and blade architectures".  The implication being that blades volume adoption is somehow being constrained by the very thing they have and everyone else is really stupid. 

HP BladeSystem growth has hardly been constrained; with quarterly growth rates of 60% or 80% and over a million BladeSystem servers sold.  So I have to wonder if maybe we already have figured out what many customers want - save time, power, and money in an integrated infrastructure that is easy to use, simple to implement changes, and can run nearly any workload.

Someone asked me today "will your strategy change?"  I guess given the success we've had, we'll keep focusing on the big problems of customers - time, cost, change and energy. It sounds boring, it doesn't get a lot of buzz and twitter traffic, but it's why customers are moving to blade architectures. 

Our platform was built and proven in a step-by-step approach: BladeSystem c-Class, Thermal Logic, Virtual Connect, Insight Dynamics, etc.  Rather than proclaim at each step that we've solved all the industry's problems or have sparked a social movement in computing; we'll continue to focus on doing our job to provide solutions that simply work for customers and tackle their biggest business and data center issues.

Builder versus Plumber

Rob Enderle recently added some great insight into a question we posed a couple of weeks ago, "What If a Plumber Built Your House".  When thinking about the question if you wanted a plubmer to build your house, he answered with "maybe".  Here are some of Rob's excellent points from his post, "Cisco, EMC and VMware: Cloud Computing Could Bring Strange Bedfellows".

  • Most builders learn the ropes in a specific trade like plumbing.

  • Plumbers can learn and partner.

  • Other experts may be useful if you were building with non-traditional materials in non-traditional places; like a cliff

Can a plumber learn new skills and partner with others to fill in the gaps?  Certainly.  Could a world-class builder do the same thing?  That is, continuously learn and partner to expand innovation in new areas based on a proven foundation.  Absolutely.

But when the example of the cloud came up, Rob inferred the cloud is primarily a network thing. Or at least a network, storage, virtual thing.  That's one point where we disagree.

The point between our builder versus plumber analogy is this: the only frame of reference when building a house is from the family and the people that make it up.  In the case of the next generation data center, that means the business and the applications and services it relies upon.  If everything isn't aligned, unified and integrated with those needs in mind for both today and the unknown tomorrow, it's a non-starter. 

Whether you are building a cloud, a data center, a or a tiny IT room, it's about about the business and delivering the application services the business needs - faster, cheaper and easier.  In our opinion, taking any kind of technology-centric view; network, server or storage is just the wrong approach.

This really just comes down to a simple difference in our points of view .  We view the big picture from the business and the application perspective across the data center, others see these as appendages hanging on to either side of a network cable.  

Rob ended with this.

"But the key to all of this is a general contractor that understands networking, storage and virtualization deeply, because those are likely the three critical skills in this new world order. By the way, this clearly suggests other partnerships, as well."

We agree it takes a lot to bring all the skills together to build in the world of the next generation data center.  Our team features EDS, who may be the world's greatest general contractor, HP software for the best home automation, and ProCurve might be your best bet for a plumber.  VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle and more are some of our most talented sub contractors too.  But without a builder, how do all the necessary parts of your data center work together and stay optimized; and who's accountable if they don't?

A big thanks to Rob for adding a lot of great ideas to consider in the "builder versus plumber" discussion.  What do you think?

Inside Peek at Pentel's Virtualized Infrastructure

Pentel's IT shop is one of many that intuitively get the power of a bladed infrastructure.  I have to LOL when folks think it's about servers on their side.  It's a way to integrate, unify and converge the old racked, stacked and wired world to deliver something that is just fundamentally better on mulitple dimensions of cost and flexibility.

In a recent article "Servers and Storage Go Hand in Hand" on Network World, Pentel gave a peek at how they work with HP to put all the right pieces together in the all the right ways.  If you'd like to know more about the virtual infrastructure that Pentel put into place to provision new servers from the SAN in under an hour, here's the full story.

Why doesn't networking obey Moore's Law?

Every 18 months, customers around the world expect to see server performance double for the same or less cost. As you know, it's been this way for some time; a consequence of a little idea called Moore's Law.  The good and bad of Moore's Law - great for customers, challenging for server businesses.  Our team would tell you that it just takes years of practice to keep up.

My question today is "why doesn't networking obey Moore's Law?"  The jump from 1GB to 10GB came years apart and with a huge jump in price. The most over-hyped next step is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), well behind 8Gb Fibre Channel but more expensive. But why such a limited view on network consolidation and why is it still so far way?   Shouldn't the industry be focused on consolidating all Ethernet ports and cables to cut costs NOW, with 10GB performance delivered today?  We think so too. It just takes the will to rethink the sacred cows and challenge the conventional wisdom.  More on that in a minute.

I'm sure someone will throw out Metcalfe's Law or McGuire's Law of Mobility to argue my point here, but these benefits are in the consumer realm, not the data center.  I wish I could get the same switch upgrade bargins that I do on my cell phones every 2 years.

Continuing and extending the Moore's Law argument, I could ask the same question about price/performance for storage and facilities too.

Yesterday, I received an ad for a 1TB drives for $89!  We estimated that the same amount of capacity in a standard Fibre Channel SAN for the data center is around $20,000 for that first TB of storage.  How many drives are in the average infrastructure utilizing only 10% of their total capacity?  I suspect there are a lot of cheap terabytes to be had out there.

Facilities is a tougher issue because there are so many external forces driving the costs - energy and real estate are the obvious ones.  Still, the model for today's data centers are based on blueprints drawn up to support mainframe architectures in the 1960's.  Fresher ideas are being implemented today, but it's time to accelerate that innovation here as well.

That all brings us to, "how do we align network, storage and facilities more inline with Moore's Law?"

We think convergence is the key.  We talked last month about how that's a much more interesting idea than simply 'consolidation'.  Convergence is not only about less, it's about transformation to create a whole new world of possibilities.  That means combining things to create something new and usually makes the combined things obsolete.

Server and network convergence such as the combination of Virtual Connect and Flex-10 networking embedded in the BL495c virtualization blade is one example.  Moving storage closer to the compute, squeezing out the network is another compelling idea.  What about converging infrastructure systems and facilities management, power distribuion and cooling. 

What do you think it will take to align networks, storage and facilities closer to the improvements delivered to compute over the last couple of decades? 

Why it's time to think virtualized infrastructure, not just servers.

When Intel and AMD put processor performance into overdrive, virtual server adoption skyrocketed.  Then came the virtual server tsunami.  IT shops became swamped by a plague of virtual server sprawl complete with diverging tools and a patchwork of IT processes for physical and virtual apps.  The tsunami also brought network and memory bottlenecks plus the other two Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Security and Command/Control Issues. 

Just like 'nature abhores a vacuum', it seems that 'IT hates unbalance'.  Thinking 'virtual server-only' leads to ad hoc virtualization and unbalance across your architecture and organization. 

Move over virtual servers.  It's time to think virtualized infrastructure.

Here's why thinking virtualized infrastructure is critical to keeping the balance.

  • If you only virtualize servers, you're missing huge cost saving opportunities to cut network, storage and facilities costs too.

  • You see the bigger picture and can take steps to unify virtual and physical tools, processes and operations

  • It helps you identify and address the key bottlenecks to virtual server performance

  • It leads to more convergence and another round of hardware and operational cost savings.  As an example, as servers and storage converge, (i.e., the data moves closer to the application) there is a huge opportunity to eliminate  the network equipment cost in between.

Over the last 12 months, we have taken several practical steps to deliver a unified virtual infrastructure. No hype.  No fancy names.  Just a thoughtful approach delivered today to help you deploy and manage a virtual infrastructure simply.

  1. It started with Insight Dynamics, a capacity planning and orchestration in one tool to manage applications on virtual and physical servers in the same way.  This was the beginning because the virtual server tsunami is the biggest driver of cost is operational driven by diverging tools, processes and roles.

  2. Next came the world's first server blade optimized for virtualization.  The aim here was to remove the memory bottlenecks and optimize a server for shared storage connections.

  3. The last piece in the trilogy was Virtual Connect with Flex-10 technology.  The first generation of Virtual Connect already proved its merits by simplifying virtual server operations between the server, LAN and SAN administrator.  Flex-10 took it to a whole new level with the ability to consolidate network equipment 4 to 1, 10Gb speeds, and the ability to carve up and fine tune that 10Gb performance to suite the needs of virtual machine channels.

  4. Rethinking storage for a virtual infrastructure is the next step.  Our friends over in the HP LeftHand group recently launched the SAS Starter SAN.  Based on high-performing SAS drives, LeftHand's architecture automatically balances data volumes across all disk drives, network connections and processors.  Isn't this the direction that makes sense for virtualization?

We've been working with a lot of folks like VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle and more, to not only unify this infrastructure with their technology, but also to make it easier to integrate into your environment.  The good news is it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Get a head start on deploying virtualized infrastructure today by checking out this virtual infrastructure solution example featuring VMware.


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About the Author(s)
  • More than 25 years in the IT industry developing and managing marketing programs. Focused in emerging technologies like Virtualization, cloud and big data.
  • I am a member of the Enterprise Group Global Marketing team blogging on topics of interest for HP Servers. Check out blog posts on all four Server blog sites-Reality Check, The Eye on Blades, Mission Critical Computing and Hyperscale Computing- for exciting news on the future of compute.
  • I work within EMEA HP Servers Central Team as a launch manager for new products and general communications manager for EMEA HP Server specific information. I also tweet @ServerSavvyElla
  • HP Servers, Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and ExpertOne
  • WW responsibility for development of ROI and TCO tools for the entire ISS portfolio. Technical expertise with a financial spin to help IT show the business value of their projects.
  • I am a member of the HP BladeSystem Portfolio Marketing team, so my posts will focus on all things blades and blade infrastructure. Enjoy!
  • Luke Oda is a member of the HP's BCS Marketing team. With a primary focus on marketing programs that support HP's BCS portfolio. His interests include all things mission-critical and the continuing innovation that HP demonstrates across the globe.
  • Global Marketing Manager with 15 years experience in the high-tech industry.
  • 20 years of marketing experience in semiconductors, networking and servers. Focused on HP BladeSystem networking supporting Virtual Connect, interconnects and network adapters.
  • Working with HP BladeSystem.
  • Greetings! I am on the HP Enterprise Group marketing team. Topics I am interested in include Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and Management, and HP BladeSystem.
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