Eye on Blades Blog: Trends in Infrastructure
Get HP BladeSystem news, upcoming event information, technology trends, and product information to stay up to date with what is happening in the world of blades.

Data Center Ants and Grasshoppers

Will 2009 be a tough year for IT departments, and us tech vendors too?  Duh.  Will it be as bad as the article I read today, 2009 - Thomas the Tank's journey to IT Hell?  We shall see.  Too often, tough times inspire dark predictions, preying on our most basic fears of the unknown.

I don't think the IT Boogeyman is hiding under my bed.  I didn't think so in 2001 either.  The winds of change to virtualization and industry standards have been blowing for too many years now - the question is were you an Ant or a Grasshopper

For those that never read Aesop's Fables, the lesson is the Grasshopper is screwed. 


If you're well on your way with server virtualization and have been through at least one round of server consolidation, you took a good first step. Good job Ant!  But if there is one truth, oh grasshopper, that I took away from the IT Hell article, it's that the status quo isn't going to cut it in 2009.  I know the IT crowd is a conservative bunch and we live and die by the mantra "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The only problem is, sometimes if you don't break it yourself, someone or something will come a long and break it for you.

I'm not trying to scare you.  But we can't continue to resist change. 

There's more out there to do to take cost out (TCO) if you're going to be ready for the long winter of 2009.  If want to be a good Ant, you better add network, storage and power consolidation to the top of your shopping list.


Tips for SAS storage and blade server

In the blade world, external SAS storage is the new kid on the block.  We see this category growing a lot in popularity in 2009, mostly because it's cheap, familar and pretty flexible for the server administrator to carve up storage in different ways without the cost and complexity of a SAN. 

We announced one of our first SAS storage products for server blades late last year, but you might of missed it while you were hunting for a Wii. 

If you're looking to consider some storage alternatives for your BladeSystem, the team created some helpful technical docs to help you evaluate SAS storage for blade servers.

Boot from shared SAS storage for blade servers

Deployment Guide: Shared SAS storage for blade servers

Demo: Shared SAS storage for blade servers

Solution Brief: BladeSystem SAS storage

Build a virtual blade infrastructure. Features SAS storage for blades with VMware. 'HP Solution Block' that highlights shared SAS storage for blades in a virtual environment:

For those also looking for some more traditional ways to connect blades servers to your SAN, here's a bonus: SAN gateway best practices. A sort of generic tech doc for both SB460c blade and DL380 rack NAS/SAN gateways.

Any questions about SAS storage blades?  Let's hear them!

Part 2: Q&A on blades and storage

In my last post, I promised to talk more about the big picture regarding storage for your bladed infrastructure.  Once your blade infrastructure is established, you have already gone through an exhaustive analysis of how it will save you money & benefit your business.   You deployed one or more applications and justified the blade purchase based on ROI. So what’s next!?!  Is this as good as it gets!?! If you’re at this point, my best advice and only advice to you: “THINK STORAGE”!   (it's what we are thinking A LOT about)What I mean is think about new possibilities with better integration of your blade infrastructure with storage. 

  • What if you could build an integrated a self contained "datacenter in a box" for your remote sites where servers, storage and data protection were fully integrated into one box, managed locally or remotely. 

  • What if you could remove the drives from the servers and create a shared pool without having to use the existing SAN infrastucture which may be costly or complex?" 

  • How could you utilize the spare slots in your enclosure for storage infrastructure that is plug and play simple.

  • What if you could build a server that has a drive capacity beyond the traditional constraints you find with rack and tower servers" 
At HP we have been thinking about these questions and more for a while - ever since we introduced the first generation of storage blades for the "Datacenter in a box" customer 9 months ago.  Since then, many customers in smaller businesses and replicated remote sites have used this solution to transform their infrastructure.  With all of this feedback, we discovered that there is so much more untapped potential out there, so stay tuned!



Q&A on blades and storage

With the blade server market growing in leaps and bounds, I constantly get asked about storage options and how people use them today.  The first thing I always say is that everybody uses storage for blades.  100%.  Whether it’s the hard drives inside, NAS or SAN – every blade needs storage of some kind.  But any move to a bladed infrastructure raises some other common questions about storage: 



Q: Can I maintain the same server/storage configuration as I move to blades? 
A: This one really depends on the applications and your server.  Most blades have 2 to 4 internal drives, but all connect to multiple types of shared storage


Q: Can I maintain my hot plug drives in the server?
A: With most HP blade models, yes.


Q: Do I require shared storage and if so how will I connect to a SAN?
A: It's not required, but it has huge upside, plus connecting is actually easier than you may be used to.


Q: What is my company policy on shared storage?  Do I need to connect to our existing SANs or should I purchase a new option?
A: Great questions. Also great reasons to have a chat and a cup of coffee with your SAN team!


Q: What about File Serving?  Can I deploy File Servers and gateways in my bladed infrastructure.  What interconnect options are available to me with Blades?

A: Even more great questions. Also great reasons to have a chat and a cup of coffee with us.


The good news behind all these questions: HP's strategy is to give you all the same choices with traditional servers – no compromise.


The even better news: There is a big upside to combining blades and shared storage.

  • Blade Infrastructure lowers the cost of connection to a SAN, significantly

  • Blade infrastructure provides a lower cost and more power efficient infrastructure up front.  Plus it’s easier to manage from a SAN and server perspective. 

  • Blades with Virtual Connect provide a wire-once connection to external storage that makes adding, moving or recovering a server easier and faster.

  • That also means you can replace a server and have it reconnect back to its allocated storage without hassling the SAN team.
“But what about Storage in the enclosure,” I hear you say?  “Can I use the infrastructure to build a more integrated solution than simply improving what I have today?”  “What are the new opportunities?”  


A: There’s a lot of untapped potential.   If you have some time next week, come back and we’ll explore this some more.   


Best regards, Lee
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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
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    • 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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