back to article Dell's Soviet style two-year plan results in fresh blade servers

Dell 2.0 is full of surprises. For example, the hardware maker today unveiled the HP C-Class blade server chassis - its third take on the blade design. Well, okay, Dell really unveiled the PowerEdge M1000e chassis, which we've been writing about for months. Thing is the system eats up 10U of rack space and holds 16 half-height …

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Pirate

What kind of NewSpeak is this?

<<... You could argue that HP and IBM would see similar performance per watt figures if they went with more efficient power supplies and fancier fans too. ..>>

IBM has gone through numerous power supply upgrades, much to the chagrin of its long-suffering customers, without offering up an energy-efficient set. HP's had their product on the market for quite a while - no power efficiency or hyper-efficient fans there either.

Yes, perhaps they could have, but they didn't. Dell did - and kudos to them for doing this and solving one of the main challenges for blade deployment - sufficient power to the racks.

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Anonymous Coward

Is one of Dell's patents in superconducting or just BS

Interesting, IBM blade power supplies are 91% efficient and they have highly efficient cooling. Without superconducting, not sure how they would beat that by 12%. Also interesting whitepaper on out of box experience comparing a Dell blade solution integrated from the factory vs an IBM and HP solution ordered al-a-carte. HP and IBM can integrate from the factory also, Dell just didn't order them that way. Not quite a fair comparison, but what do you expect from Dell.

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dell.com: Product Details

"One of the only blade solutions with an integrated KVM switch"

Eh?

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Alert

Box Reduction

HP (in EMEA) now offer full factory integration on ALL Proliant servers from regular tower models through to Blades. Not only is this open to their direct enterprise customer base but it is also accessible by any channel reseller via an HP distributor (HP Top Config). The pick and mix option approach is great for next day availability but rarely are 100% of the parts in the channel which means a back order on the vendor (10 day wait anyway!). So you might as well just order it in one box and have everything turn up in one go!

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Silver badge
Happy

Will Dell only offer factory assembled?

HP and IBM offer either factory built or "bunch of boxes" type deliveries. The latter offers their channel partners the chance to make some revenue by offering build services, or their customers with the skills to save some cash by self-assembly. It will be interesting to see if Dell's new-found love for the channel translates into the same type of setup, otherwise their channel partners may just stick to pushing HP and IBM (or any of the other brands that allow build services).

As it's a blade discussion, I have to insert a cheeky note to IBM - so why do you think they copied the HP blades then?

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Product Details..

The KVM is an option as it's not required. Once the ip's are set via the LCD. You can connect to each blade either via the chassis management card or directly via the blade's onboard drac. It works very well. You can load/install software on all the blades from the comfort of your desk. I've tried it.

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Anonymous Coward

Another new measurement for the fold?

Energy, measured in acres of trees? Hmm, not quite sure Dell got the hang of the El Reg measurements system...

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Coat

nice box, shame about the management

Lets face it, dell's management piece is the pits, it isn't getting any better and HP have both IBM and Dell licked on that front. so who cares if it saves you $2600 when it'll cost you $10k in lost man hours configuring the damn thing when you try and reconfigure it at 3am due to unreasonable client changes, using remote hands, or the on call engineer who didn't set it up. HP still have the edge as far as I'm concerned kit wise, but who among us mere mortals has a datacentre we can run 12 - 24kw to each rack in? (2 to 4 x chassis fully loaded) even being 16% more efficient, you're still not able to put 2 chassis in one rack, let alone 4 no matter which vendor you use :( yes, yes, getting the coat now (pulls anorak off peg) :)

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Major Savings

Just wait till I explain to my boss that he can save two whole hours of my time if he goes with Dell - that will save him a whole £20 or so !

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Pirate

Yes, HP and IBM can factory integrate too...

but you pay extra for it. Dell's is included in the cost and they also test the integrated unit, versus just assembling the pieces. Big difference.

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Happy

RE: cheeky note to IBM - why do you think they copied the HP blades?

El Reg already answered this for you: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/20/dell_blade_third/

Dell poached an HP Blade exec and basically copied HP's product. Note they also copied all of the limitations of HP's product also. Multiple single points of failure for the half height blades, three switch fabrics when four will be needed for redundancy with high speed ethernet and SAN. Switching power supplies on and off for efficiency which makes them heat up and cool down causing reliability issues and causing power measurement anomalies in the data center and using an untested fan design. They also abandoned their previous product and customers like HP did with pClass. This leads to the previous product being worthless; lowering trade in value and increasing lease rates. It is not always good to copies another's product, especially when you copy their deficiencies as well. Way to go Dell.

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Happy

RE: RE: cheeky note.....

Lol, gotcha!

I particularly love the line "....using an untested fan design"! Priceless! How exactly is it "untested"? I also don't feel very abandoned seeing as I can still order new p-Class blades, chassis and switches, but HP do insist on still charging me for them so I assume they don't believe the "worthless" bit either. Please don't take it personally when say I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the switching PSUs causing "power measurement anomalies"! Where do you get this stuff, I thought the Hollywood comedy scriptwriters were on strike?

Just calm down, take a deep breath, and admit it - IBM have lost the blades war. ;)

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IT Angle

RE: RE: RE: cheeky note.....

As I remember HP gave customers nearly 18 months to transition from P to C class. maybe you can order them, but they are end-of-Life because HP couldn't pur current technology in an old design (and neither can IBM despite their claims.) Backward compatibility doesn't count unless you can actualy turn the blades on !!

To quiesce an unneeded power supply is not the same as "turning it on and off" anymore than a TV is ever actually "turned off."

Granted Dell may not do the extensive testing of an IBM or HP, but "untested" is laughable.

Dell poached a guy with intimate knowledge of the c-class design (whatever happend to non-compete contracts?) They probably did a pretty good copy.

I wonder what their strategy is to combat IBM and HP inn terms of management software. HP in particular is pretty good, especially at accomnodating virtualization.

Between VMWare and Xen physical servers are becoming ever so much less relevant as each day passes.

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Anonymous Coward

I understand your sarcasm about the cheeky note.

Some Clarification, hope this helps:

1. Untested Fan Design. By untested I mean untested over time. This is a new fan design from HP, derived from a toy airplane engine (according to HP), with no precedent for fans tested running at 10,000 to 18,000 rpm over 3 or more years 24 hours a day 365 days a year. IBM Blade blowers were used in mainframes and large Unix servers for 10 years before they ever went in to the blades.

2. By pClass blades being worthless, I mean try to trade them in or get a good lease rate on them. Not that HP won't charge you full price for them, but that you cannot get any trade in money out of them once they are retired compared to the IBM blades because of the design change. This change increases lease costs and lowers trade in value. Street value for a stripped (no memory or hard drives) used pClass blade is about $40 US, used IBM blades are about 10x that.

3. By power anomalies. As power supplies are loaded up and down by switching them on and off they become more and less efficient rendering it difficult to measure and accurately predict power efficiency levels in data centers because the efficiency changes. Data center power administrators hate this stuff. Additionally this repeatedly heats and cools components within the power supply expanding and contracting them making them less reliable. Better engineering would yield a more efficient power supply not needing to be switched off and on or quiesced to make the total solution more efficient.

4. Someone mentioned "Backward compatibility doesn't count unless you can actually turn the blades on !!." All IBM blades and switches ever produced will work in the new chassis, so not sure what you mean by this. Additionally all blades currently shipping will work in the old chassis providing you do not exceed total power levels supplied by the chassis which is fine for customers who have a few empty slots left in an old chassis populated with old servers and need to add a few more new servers. They are backward compatible, but you have to be realistic.

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IT Angle

Despite your enthusiam

.. as well as tendency to play rather loosely with facts vs. your opinion, the market seems to have chosen HP as the preferred vendor of blades (or so the IDC numbers would indicate.)

Your tendency to use disparaging adjectives like "toy" and denigrating HP's engineering (which apparently has resulted in pretty good power numbers in real-world test) would seem to indicate that you may have some vested interest in promoting IBMs less popular platform. Employee ?? Reseller ??

IBM has released a number of Youtube videos which were pretty ludicrous in their attempts to disparage HP's kit. So far, have not seen such retaliatory behavior from HP.

I do not sell physical servers for a living, so I have no bets on either (or Dell for that matter.)

In the end, the market will decide, and considering the proprietary nature of blades, and their "stickiness" in data centers, I understand the desperation partisans feel.

However, until the day I am a better engineer than the boys in Houston, I would not criticize nor second-guess their designs.

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Happy

RE: sarcasm

1. "Untested Fan Design. By untested I mean untested over time...." All new designs are therefore "untested"? What you're really saying is HP carefully engineered a new part to maximise efficiency, whereas IBM went scrabbling through the parts bin.

2. "By pClass blades being worthless, I mean try to trade them in or get a good lease rate on them..." Strange, but our IBM salesgrunt keeps offering large sums as trade-ins to swap our p-Class out for IBM BladeCenter. I assume he hasn't been told they're "worthless".

3. "By power anomalies. As power supplies are loaded up and down by switching them on and off they become more and less efficient rendering it difficult to measure and accurately predict power efficiency levels in data centers because the efficiency changes...." Just watch the electrickery bills go down instead, it makes the beancounters happy!

4. "Someone mentioned '....unless you can actually turn the blades on !!.'" This is probably someone who bought BladeCenter and only then realised you can't run all the blades maxed out at once, despite the number of PSU upgrades IBM has thrown at their chassis. Ever seen a CIO make an instant decision? Try telling him that it's a good idea to buy two half-full chassis 'cos you can only run that many fully-spec'd and maxed out, whereas the HP chassis can. No amount of golf days will win that argument!

Don't worry, you won't have to suffer such abuse for long, IBM will probably sell the whole x86 bizz to Lenovo next year! It will have to be Lenovo as it doesn't look like Dell are interested.

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PSU redundancy modes

They set the Dell to redundant PSU but the HP to redundant AC in the test. That's cheating since AC redundancy requires 3 spares on standby but PSU redundancy only needs 1 spare powered up and the other two turned off, at least for the c7000 when it's fully populated.

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