Tag Archives: HP BladeSystem

LEFT BEHIND in The Venetian Casino Data Center (Really!)

The Venetian Hotel and Casino Data CenterThey make it look so complicated in the movies.  Detailed covert operations with the intent to hack into a casino’s mainframe preceeded by weeks of staged planned rehearsals, but I’m here to tell you it’s much easier than that.  

This is my story of how I had 20 seconds of complete access to The Venetian Casino’s data center, and lived to tell about it.

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More HP and IBM Blade Rumours

I wanted to post a few more rumours before I head out to HP in Houston for “HP Blades and Infrastructure Software Tech Day 2010” so it’s not to appear that I got the info from HP. NOTE: this is purely speculation, I have no definitive information from HP so this may be false info.

First off – the HP Rumour:
I’ve caught wind of a secret that may be truth, may be fiction, but I hope to find out for sure from the HP blade team in Houston.  The rumour is that HP’s development team currently has a Cisco Nexus Blade Switch Module for the HP BladeSystem in their lab, and they are currently testing it out.

Now, this seems far fetched, especially with the news of Cisco severing partner ties with HP, however, it seems that news tidbit was talking only about products sold with the HP label, but made by Cisco (OEM.)   HP will continue to sell Cisco Catalyst switches for the HP BladeSystem and even Cisco branded Nexus switches with HP part numbers (see this HP site for details.)  I have some doubt about this rumour of a Cisco Nexus Switch that would go inside the HP BladeSystem simply because I am 99% sure that HP is announcing a Flex10 type of BladeSystem switch that will allow converged traffic to be split out, with the Ethernet traffic going to the Ethernet fabric and the Fibre traffic going to the Fibre fabric (check out this rumour blog I posted a few days ago for details.)  Guess only time will tell.

The IBM Rumour:
I posted a few days ago a rumour blog that discusses the rumour of HP’s next generation adding Converged Network Adapters (CNA) to the motherboard on the blades (in lieu of the 1GB or Flex10 NICs), well, now I’ve uncovered a rumour that IBM is planning on following later this year with blades that will also have CNA’s on the motherboard.  This is huge!  Let me explain why. 

The design of IBM’s BladeCenter E and BladeCenter H have the 1Gb NICs onboard each blade server hard-wired to I/O Bays 1 and 2 – meaning only Ethernet modules can be used in these bays (see the image to the left for details.)  However, I/O Bays 1 and 2 are for “standard form factor I/O modules” while I/O Bays are for “high speed form factor I/O modules”.  This means that I/O Bays 1 and 2 can not handle “high speed” traffic, i.e. converged traffic. 

 This means that IF IBM comes out with a blade server that has a CNA on the motherboard, either:

 a) the blade’s CNA will have to route to I/O Bays 7-10
OR
b) IBM’s going to have to come out with a new BladeCenter chassis that allows the high speed converged traffic from the CNAs to connect to a high speed switch module in Bays 1 and 2.

So let’s think about this.  If IBM (and HP for that matter) does put CNA’s on the motherboard, is there a need for additional mezzanine/daughter cards?  This means the blade servers could have more real estate for memory, or more processors.   If there’s no extra daughter cards, then there’s no need for additional I/O module bays.  This means the blade chassis could be smaller and use less power – something every customer would like to have.

I can really see the blade market moving toward this type of design (not surprising very similar to Cisco’s UCS design) – one where only a pair of redundant “modules” are needed to split converged traffic to their respective fabrics.  Maybe it’s all a pipe dream, but when it comes true in 18 months, you can say you heard it here first.

Thanks for reading.  Let me know your thoughts – leave your comments below.

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HP BladeSystem Rumours

I’ve recently posted some rumours about IBM’s upcoming announcements in their blade server line, now it is time to let you know some rumours I’m hearing about HP.   NOTE: this is purely speculation, I have no definitive information from HP so this may be false info.  That being said – here we go:

Rumour #1:  Integration of “CNA” like devices on the motherboard. 
As you may be aware, with the introduction of the “G6”, or Generation 6, of HP’s blade servers, HP added “FlexNICs” onto the servers’ motherboards instead of the 2 x 1Gb NICs that are standard on most of the competition’s blades.  FlexNICs allow for the user to carve up a 10Gb NIC into 4 virtual NICs when using the Flex-10 Modules inside the chassis.  (For a detailed description of Flex-10 technology, check out this HP video.)  The idea behind Flex-10 is that you have 10Gb connectivity that allows you to do more with fewer NICs. 

SO – what’s next?  Rumour has it that the “G7” servers, expected to be announced on March 16, will have an integrated CNA or Converged Network Adapter.  With a CNA on the motherboard, both the ethernet and the fibre traffic will have a single integrated device to travel over.  This is a VERY cool idea because this announcement could lead to a blade server that can eliminate the additional daughter card or mezzanine expansion slots therefore freeing up valueable real estate for newer Intel CPU architecture.

Rumour #2: Next generation Flex-10 Modules will separate Fibre and Network traffic.

Today, HP’s Flex-10 ONLY allows handles Ethernet traffic.  There is no support for FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) so if you have a Fibre network, then you’ll also have to add a Fibre Switch into your BladeSystem chassis design. If HP does put in a CNA onto their next generation blade servers that carry Fibre and Ethernet traffic, wouldn’t it make sense there would need to be a module that would fit in the BladeSystem chassis that would allow for the storage and Ethernet traffic to exit? 

I’m hearing that a new version of the Flex-10 Module is coming, very soon, that will allow for the Ethernet AND the Fibre traffic to exit out the switch. (The image to the right shows what it could look like.)  The switch would allow for 4 of the uplink ports to go to the Ethernet fabric and the other 4 ports of the 8 port Next Generation Flex-10 switch to either be dedicated to a Fibre fabric OR used for additional 4 ports to the Ethernet fabric. 

If this rumour is accurate, it could shake up things in the blade server world.  Cisco UCS uses 10Gb Data Center Ethernet (Ethernet plus FCoE); IBM BladeCenter has the ability to do a 10Gb plus Fibre switch fabric (like HP) or it can use a 10Gb Enhanced Ethernet plus FCoE (like Cisco) however no one currently has a device to split the Ethernet and Fibre traffic at the blade chassis.  If this rumour is true, then we should see it announced around the same time as the G7 blade server (March 16).

That’s all for now.  As I come across more rumours, or information about new announcements, I’ll let you know.

Cisco Wants IBM’s Blade Servers??

In an unusual move Tuesday, Cisco CEO, John Chambers, commented that Cisco is still open to a blade server “partnership” with IBM.  “I still firmly believe that it’s in IBM’s best interests to work with us. That door will always be open,” Chambers told the audience at the Cisco’s financial analyst conference yesterday at Cisco’s HQ in San Jose. 

John Chambers and other executives spent much of the day talking with financial analysts about Cisco’s goal to become the preeminent IT and communications vendor because of the growing importance of virtualization, collaboration and video, a move demonstrated by their recent partnership announcement with EMC and VMware.  According to reports, analysts at the event said they think Chambers is sincere about his willingness to work with IBM. The two companies have much in common, such as their enterprise customer base, and Cisco’s products could fit into IBM’s offerings, said Mark Sue of RBC Capital Markets.

So – is this just a move for Cisco to tighten their relationship with IBM in the hopes of growing to an entity that can defeat HP and their BladeSystem sales, or has Cisco decided that the server market is best left to manufacturers who have been selling servers for 20+ years?  What are your thoughts?  Please feel free to leave some comments and let me know.