Thursday, December 27, 2012

IBM BladeCenter HS23 Server Blade Review: The Big 5

About a month ago, we spent time reviewing the IBM System x3650 M4. So, having spent time in the IBM rack server world, it’s now time for us to take a look at the IBM server blade world. Coordinated with the System x M4 release, IBM also released an updated server blade called the IBM BladeCenter HS23 that offers some significant improvements over its predecessor, the IBM BladeCenter HS22.

There are 5 key areas that the IBM BladeCenter HS23 server has improved upon:

1.    Availability – The HS23 blade offers exceptional system uptime as a result of features such as fault tolerance, built-in diagnostics, Predictive Failure Analysis (PDF), and a power-independent light path diagnostics panel.

2.    Manageability – Featuring the new Integrated Management Module 2 (IMM2) for remote management capabilities, HS23 server blades also come equipped with IBM Fabric Manager and IBM Systems Director.

3.    Performance – IBM HS23 servers are built with the new Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors for ramped-up performance, as well as offering other performance-enhancing features such as Intel Turbo Bust Technology 2.0 and Intel Hyper-Threading technology.

4.    Scalability – Able to scale to up to 512GB of memory capacity, IBM HS23 blades can also scale to up to two processors, 16 cores, and 32 threads of processing power as well as scaling to 18 I/O ports on a single-wide HS23 blade.

5.    Energy-efficiency – Equipped with lower voltage Intel Xeon processors, HS23 blade servers also offer IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager, Intel Intelligent Power Capability, and low-voltage DDR3 memory for reduced energy consumption.

With improvements in these 5 key areas, the IBM BladeCenter HS23 blade server gives some legitimate reasons to consider an upgrade from your HS22.

- KH

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cisco Catalyst 6500: What You May Not Have Known

While the Cisco Catalyst 6500 switch is not a new product, we’ve decided to spend some time reviewing it because the price tag has dropped significantly. This has made it an affordable option for many companies that it would never have been on their radar because of its previous, more staggering price tag. Since it wasn’t on their radar, these companies never took the time to see what advantages the Cisco 6500 might have for them. So, we decided to lend a helping hand and kill two birds with one stone by letting everyone know about the price drop and advantages.

Since the Cisco Catalyst 6500 is now the least expensive way to get enterprise-level gigabit switching, some environments may find it interesting that is highly modular and can easily upgrade to 10Gb capabilities. Both cheaper and faster than standalone stacking switches, Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches are built to last and offer built-in redundancy to protect your datacenter against potential downtime. As high-performance platforms, Cisco 6500 switches are feature-rich with end-to-end security features and advanced management capabilities and easy scalability. With 3, 6, 9 or 13 slot chassis options, Catalyst 6500 switches can be custom built to fit your datacenter’s needs. 

It’s a well known-fact that no one ever gets fired for buying Cisco. But buying the Cisco reputation and performance at a significant price drop? Heck, you might even get a holiday bonus.

- KH

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dell PowerEdge R620 Review: New and Accelerated

For Round 3 of our new generational product reviews, we turn to Dell’s 12th generation PowerEdge R620 servers. Not messing around when it comes to space-efficiency, this 1U, 2-socket rack server is a perfect fit for environments where space in a hot commodity – a problem that affects both large and small datacenters.

Some potential limitations that someone would encounter when considering Dell PowerEdge R620’s versus Dell PowerEdge R720 or R720xd rack servers would be that R620 servers only support SFF disk drives, while R720 and R720xd server support both SFF and LFF disk drives. Also, R720 and R720xd servers offer larger disk drive capacities than the R620 – the R720xd can actually accommodate up to 26 HDD’s.

Yet when compared to its predecessor, the Dell PowerEdge R610, the Dell PowerEdge R620 rack server offers several performance enhancements. For instance, Dell R620 servers come equipped with Intel Xeon E5 processors for a whopping 80% performance boost as well as Load-Reduced DIMM’s for expanded memory capacity, on-board NIC’s and iDRAC 7. Dell 12th generation R620 servers even offer new RAID cards and redundant SD cards for added availability.

So depending on your environment and performance requirements, Dell R620 servers just might be the answer you’re looking for. In fact, if you are a space-constrained datacenter running workgroup collaboration, HPC and/or virtualization applications then I dare say even Match.com couldn’t have found a more compatible  server/environment match-up if they tried.

- KH

Thursday, December 6, 2012

HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8: The Good, Bad and Not-So Ugly

Continuing with our review of the latest product generations, this week we are going to take a hard look at the HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 rack server.  The design of the server differs drastically from the HP ProLiant DL380 G7, with the power supply being the sole shared component. HP has stated that these changes were made based off of customer feedback that they received on the G7.

While this may certainly be true, and the new LRDIMM’s definitely offer faster memory speed and doubled capacity (all the way up to 768GB!), it will cause some difficulties for customers who are used to working off of a G6 and G7 built-up supply of spares that will not be usable with the DL380p Gen8. And Gen8 servers can be incompatible with some datacenter OS's because they only run Windows 2008R2 and above.

Other generational changes that the HP DL380p Gen8 server has delivered include the Intel Xeon E5 processor family. As a brand, spanking new processor, the Intel Xeon E5 offers performance boosts, and advanced features such as reduced I/O network latency and increased energy efficiency. Another generational change includes the new HP Integrated Lights Out 4 (iLO 4). With iLO 4, the HP DL380p Gen8 server comes equipped with new automated capabilities including HP Agentless Management, HP Active Health System and HP Sea of Sensors 3D. Also, the new FlexLOM modules that the DL380p Gen8 offers is a much improved alternative when it comes to dealing with LAN on the motherboard.

With all of the new advanced features and the overhaul when it comes to system design, the HP ProLiant DL380 Gen8 may be an intimidating leap to make. But the field serviceability of the Gen8 server is actually pretty simplified with the new levels of automation it offers, easing the load of any datacenter management chores. So when it comes to performance, it’s no contest between the Gen8 and G7, but when it comes to being the right fit for your datacenter, it’s totally dependent on your set-up.

-KH