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Review: IBM BladeCenter HS22

This IBM BladeCenter can help meet consolidation and green mandates - and deliver performance and availability.

Current industry advice tells businesses to consolidate data centers and go green by reducing power and cooling requirements. This leaves IT organizations with a conundrum: how to meet those demands while keeping up with ever-growing application performance and availability needs. One way is through migrating to blade servers, such as IBM's BladeCenter family.

Built for high-density applications such as data centers, telecommunications systems and other environments where space is at a premium (say, aboard ships or aircraft), BladeCenter systems consist of a chassis designed for the operating environment and a mix-and-match set of blade servers that share the power and cooling within the chassis. The BladeCenter HS22 (7870) is part of IBM's best-selling blade server family — a line of general-purpose, dual processor–capable servers that can take on most processing workloads.

Advantages

The HS22 (7870) comes configured with one or two Intel 2.66-gigahertz, quad-core Xeon E5640 processors. (Other HS22 versions come with six-core processors and clock speeds up to 3.6GHz.) The HS22 (7870) also has 12 DDR-3 VLP DIMM slots, giving it a maximum memory capacity of 192 gigabytes. That makes it a good candidate for most CPU-intensive and multiprocessing applications, and the relatively large amount of addressable RAM plus up to eight processor cores let it comfortably contain eight to 10 virtual servers running in a hypervisor environment.

Speaking of virtualization, the HS22 line can be configured with an optional embedded hypervisor. It can boot a virtualized environment without having to load from local storage and can load server images and access data from a storage area network. The HS22 series therefore works well in private cloud computing environments and for agencies that want to scale up server virtualization quickly.

Another plus for virtualization is the built-in networking capacity in the HS22 (7870). It includes two Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, providing a decent amount of throughput as well as redundancy.

Why It Works for IT

You can't really appreciate the capabilities of the HS22 (7870) — or of any HS22 models, for that matter — by looking at it alone because its functionality is linked to the BladeCenter chassis. There are five BladeCenter chassis designed for a variety of missions. The HS22 can be part of a remote office "data center in a box" solution in the BladeCenter S, an all-in-one system with an integrated SAN. In a data center environment, the blade can be put in a BladeCenter E chassis, delivering up to 14 servers (or 28 CPUs) in 7U of rack space.

The HS22 series is built with failover and manageability in mind. It has redundant connectors to the chassis's midplane that provide power and other connections to the chassis. IBM's Light-Path Diagnostics provide technicians with onboard guidance to the source of a hardware problem. Even before a component fails, the HS22 can alert administrators through an onboard management module and IBM's Systems Director management software that a problem is imminent, based on predictive failure analysis technology. The management module, combined with IBM's Power Configurator, lets users track energy usage too.

Disadvantages

A blade server configuration isn't the best solution for every application. For smaller numbers of servers, or applications for which large-scale multiprocessing is more important than connecting to a high-speed SAN, blades may not be the best option.

Although the HS22 (7870) is a general-purpose server, it is designed for high-density data center deployments where multiprocessing power is required. If an organization needs a solution for a remote-office deployment supporting single applications per server, the single-processor HS12 line might be a better choice.

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Dec 12 2011 Spice IT

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