For local management and to facilitate initial deployment, the chassis offers an operator panel and LCD display. From here you can run fault analysis, assign IP addresses to the chassis and selected blades and monitor general system health. Remote support staff get a look in as well since the panel and display can be used for text based chats between staff on the scene and central support. Separate blades deliver full management facilities and these provide their own embedded iLO2 controller and a dedicated network port allowing access to be secured on a separate subnet. Management is also covered by fault tolerance as a pair of these blades can be fitted for redundancy.
The chassis provides comprehensive remote browser management as it features HP’s Onboard Administrator which opens with a complete rundown of the status of the entire system along with colour coded icons for errors and faults. The intuitive interface makes it simple to locate and access each function and photo-realistic pictures of the front and rear of the chassis provide a quick view of all installed components. As you’d expect, power management has a very high priority and you can view chassis power consumption, available power, current and maximum BTU/hr and temperatures. The power supplies are more efficient when running at 100 per cent load so HP’s dynamic power saving mode will run selected supplies at this rate by placing others in standby.
To complete the management picture, HP offers its Insight Control Data Center Edition which comprises a range of software modules you can pick and choose from as required. Modules are provided for swift OS deployment to multiple blades and HP can also supply pre-prepared images. There are options for BIOS and driver version control, patch management and performance monitoring and a new module is now available for managing server virtualisation. Central to all this is HP’s Systems Insight Manager which provides a wealth of information about the server and storage blades via the iLO2 management controller. Power gets a look in as well as Insight Manager now comes with enhanced features on power consumption as you can create reports on power usage by server blade or the complete chassis over selected time periods.
For blade servers the main competition comes from IBM, Dell and Fujitsu Siemens and having seen them all we can safely say that HP’s BladeSystem c-Class is, literally, in a class of its own. Build quality, design and fault tolerance are superb, it offers an unbeatable choice of server and interconnect blades, hardware and power management and monitoring facilities are extensive and it looks very good value as well. Furthermore, as we write this review HP has advised us that it will be running a promotion during March where with selected specifications it will be offering the chassis free of charge.