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

Primer on iSCSI and the permutations on BladeSystem

As iSCSI becomes more popular as an interconnect technology for storage and other devices, we had received a lot of questions as to how, why, what, works with iSCSI and the components of HP BladeSystem.

So, Dan Bowers and Ed McGee put together a primer to help answer a majority of the questions and configurations you may have or want to implement.

I have posted the primer to this community so download it and take a look. Let us know if it helps, hinders, confuses, or what additional things we can help with in this iSCI area.



A Blade Kill


In April, SPEC updated their server power benchmark to allow results for blade servers, and now HP has released its first blade result. 
 
HP just published a SPECpower_ssj2008 result for the HP BL280c G6 server blade.  It's the top score for a blade.   I talked to Kari Kelley, the BL280c product manager, and she called it a "solid kill."

The kill comment made more sense after Kari explained she played division-1 volleyball while at Texas A&M. "A kill is a good thing," she assured me.



SPEC didn't open up that benchmark to blades until their SPECpower_ssj2008 V1.10 came out this spring.  For a multi-node system (like a blade infrastructure), the benchmark has to be run with a full set of servers -- so a c7000 enclosure filled with 16 BL280c servers in HP's case. Power is measured at the AC line voltage source, while the test itself monitors throughput and power usage at various performance levels, including periods when the servers are 100% idle.  HP has written this whitepaper that talks more about the benchmark methodology.

For the BL280c G6 server, the overall result was 1877 ssj_ops/watt.   Full details here.  For full details about kills, along with sets and spikes, you'll have to talk to Kari.

SPEC and the benchmark name SPECpower_ssj are trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. The latest SPECpower_ssj2008 benchmark results are available on the SPEC website at http://www.spec.org/power_ssj2008.

A lesson in economics – Price Transparency

It doesn’t happen often, but here is one of those situations in life where that dismal science, economics, can be useful and fun.


First a little definition ….


Price transparency is defined as a situation in which both buyer and seller know what products, services or capital assets are available and at what price.


Now, price transparency is a way of life in the business of standards-based, x86 servers. This even includes blade servers.


Go to any of the major vendors’ web sites such as Dell.com, IBM.com, HP.com or even resellers such as CDW.com and you can freely look up at least what each vendor’s list price is. You can bet that we vendors do this all the time to ensure we are ‘competitive’ with each other. And so do all of our customers. In fact, our customers know our list price and our competitors’ before any of us set foot in a customer’s place. That helps keep us vendors on our toes to deliver better products while keeping prices lower for customers. The x86 market is a living example of price transparency.


Until you get to the newest member of the x86 server community …


Cisco claims on their web site that their recently announced Unified Computing System is “Reducing total cost of ownership at the platform, site, and organizational levels”.  The glaring omission is “minus the cost”. One would presume this includes a competitively priced set of compute, storage, enclosure, interconnect, management tool, software licenses and support components. But aside from Cisco’s word for it, this cannot be verified.


This is because Cisco, unlike the other server vendors, does not publish their UCS list price on their web site. Nor do their resellers seem to.  This makes it difficult for customers (or competitors) to independently validate features to prices in a standards-based industry.


Given Cisco’s traditionally high margins on network plumbing gear (65% vs. the 20% margins of x86 servers), vendors, analysts and customers could be forgiven if they were