Blade Costs: BL480c - £1,603. BL460c - £1,209.
Low-profile rack servers have always been a top solution for enterprise level data centres looking to make the most out of their server room, as they offer a high processing density for a given amount of floor space. However, times move on and these very same companies have different sets of priorities now making blade servers a superior solution and here we take an in depth look at HP’s latest BladeSystem c-Class.
The problem with massively dense rack cabinets is they cost a lot to run and large businesses don’t like to see their IT budgets being eaten away by utility charges. Furthermore, not only do rack servers consume plenty of power but they generate a lot of heat and this has to be dealt with by expensive dedicated air-conditioning plants. Support costs come into the equation as well as large rack server installations require plenty of trained support staff to manage and maintain them. When they were first introduced over five years ago, blade servers focused primarily on sheer processing density but, as you’ll see clearly with the c-Class, there’s a big shift in priorities with reduced power consumption, lower heat output, greater fault tolerance and improved management now much higher up the agenda.
The first thing that strikes you about the c-Class is its superb build quality. HP was one of the first companies to introduce a blade server to market but with the c-Class it has thrown the rule book away and drawn on design concepts from every area of its server business including its Himalaya, SuperDome and ProLiant products. The c-Class is built around the 10U high 7000c enclosure which has room for up to sixteen half-height or eight full-height server blades and these all connect to a high-speed 5Tb/sec mid-plane. The only drawback with the new design is that the c-Class is incompatible with previous HP server blade offerings. When it released its BladeCentre H, IBM designed it to be fully backward compatible with previous chassis models allowing existing investment to be maximized as the old blades can be used in the new chassis and also replaced with newer models as they are released.
Nevertheless, HP does offer an extensive range of half-height and full-height server blades that support a wide range of processor options. Both Xeon 5100 and 5300 dual- and quad-processor blades are available along with AMD Series 2000 dual-socket and 8000 quad-socket models. HP even keeps the flag flying for Intel’s beleaguered Itanium 2 as the BL860c model supports the dual-core Montecito.