IBM BladeCenter S beats the competition

Competitive advantages - an IBM cost advantage over €4.000. 


Compare blade servers. Learn the benefits of IBM BladeCenter compared to competitive blade servers.

How does your system stack up against IBM BladeCenter?


  IBM Dell HP Cisco
Chassis flexibility YES
BladeCenter® S,
BladeCenter E,
BladeCenter H,
BladeCenter HT
 
PowerEdge M1000e BladeSystem c3000,
BladeSystem c7000,
Carrier-Grade
UCS 5108 Blade Server Chassis
Blade server flexibility YES
Blade servers, eX5 innovations and pre-integrated systems to help your business operate smarter.
Blade servers Blade servers Only x86 blade servers; pre-integrated virtualisation offering
Storage flexibility YES
External: NAS, FC SAN, iSCSI SAN, SAS SAN

Internal: Solid-state, flash, SAS, SATA[3]
No SAS connectivity No in-chassis
SAN solution
Only supports FCoE and iSCSI protocols.
Availability YES
Blades and chassis designed with no single point of failure
Many single points of failure Many single points of failure Many single points of failure
Predictive Failure Analysis (PFA) YES
IBM monitors all vital system components for maximum availability
Limited PFA Limited PFA Very limited PFA
Light path diagnostics YES
The front of each blade server—and the chassis itself—has an LED indicator light to show possible component failures.
No light path equivalent on the blades No light path equivalent on the blades No light path on the blades
First Failure Data Capture YES
Simplifies problem determination by creating detailed event logs through the BladeCenter AMM
No comparable technology No comparable technology Limited availability
Power and cooling YES
Superior hardware designs and excellent power efficiencies and pioneering cooling technologies
Not so smart hardware designs or power/cooling technologies Not so smart hardware designs or power/cooling technologies Not so smart hardware designs or power/cooling technologies
10Gb Ethernet Flexibility YES
A choice of 10Gb Ethernet switch modules from BNT, Brocade, Cisco and IBM
1 10Gb option Proprietary 10Gb options No integrated switching available
Converged networking YES
IBM is first to deliver an FCoE-ready 10GbE blade switch for converged data and storage networks inside the chassis for maximum consolidation.
Solution delivers 22% less bandwidth overall and 50% less Fibre Channel bandwidth[7] Solution delivers 50% less bandwidth overall[6] No integrated FCoE switching available
Virtual Fabric YES
Virtual Fabric for IBM BladeCenter
No comparable technology Virtual Connect Flex-10 Virtual Interface Card (Palo)
I/O management software YES
IBM Fabric Manager for BladeCenter simplifies blade and SAN/LAN administration using standard switches, and single login across 256 chassis and up to 3,584 blades
FlexAddress delivers limited functionality HP Virtual Connect uses proprietary switches Cisco offers similar functionality but with proprietary Cisco switches

Chassis flexibility

IBM

Your business is not generic. IBM® understands that one size does not fit all. Our competition has yet to figure it out.

The BladeCenter® family of chassis forms your IT foundation and can be tailored to the range of applications, environments and performance requirements you have in your business today. Unlike other vendors with limited chassis and options, the BladeCenter platform has four chassis so you can pick the size, type and performance level you need. With a BladeCenter solution, most blades and switches can be easily moved among chassis, giving you incredibly flexible, mix-and-match deployment choices. And by supporting up to 14 blades per BladeCenter H or E chassis compared to the 8 to 10 from some competitors, the BladeCenter platform supports solutions with fewer chassis, switches, and cables to manage[1]. Also BladeCenter S is designed to work equally well in both the data center and the front office. It fits under a desk (using the Office Enablement Kit), is very quiet, and runs on standard 115V wall outlets.

HP

HP offers the c-Class and the c-Class Carrier-Grade chassis but delivers no compatibility between them. HP has separate switches and blades for each chassis type, requiring more part numbers and options for IT to manage. With IBM BladeCenter, most HS/LS/JS/PS/QS blade servers and switch modules ever released by IBM are supported in every BladeCenter chassis ever released by IBM, going back to 2002[2].

Dell

Dell only offers one chassis offering, the PowerEdge M1000e chassis. Dell neglects the small and medium businesses For clients with less demanding I/O performance needs, IBM offers a choice of BladeCenter S or E chassis, which provide simple installations with smaller footprints and easy local storage. With Dell’s single chassis offering, they must try to oversell the M1000e or sell rack/tower servers.

Cisco

Not only does Cisco neglect choice, they also neglect to offer substantial blade density with their one chassis offering, the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) 5108 Blade Server Chassis. With IBM BladeCenter most chassis and components are interchangeable. If a user decides to move to a different BladeCenter chassis platform, they can take most internal components from the old chassis and install them into the new one – delivering extreme flexibility while often removing the need for significant additional capital expenditures when moving to a new chassis platform. Cisco’s one chassis offering effectively limits users to a single configuration. In addition to providing choice and flexibility, IBM BladeCenter provides a much denser environment. For instance, the BladeCenter H 9U chassis supports 14 blade servers compared to the Cisco 5108 6U chassis supporting only 8 blade servers.
With Cisco UCS, you would need to purchase more chassis – which means more power supplies, fans, and fabric extender I/O modules.


1 A standard 42U rack enclosure can fit up to 84 IBM blades (168 sockets per rack using 2-socket servers) via 6 IBM BladeCenter E chassis measuring 7U and supporting 14 blade servers each.
A standard 42U rack enclosure can fit only up to 64 HP blades (128 sockets per rack using 2-socket servers) via 4 HP BladeSystem c7000 Enclosures measuring 10U and supporting 16 blade servers each.

Blade server flexibility

IBM

IBM understands that you have a variety of applications — but that you still want to move to one, efficient, easy-to-manage environment. We offer up to four-socket Intel Xeon processor-based blades and IBM POWER® processor-based blades supporting a wide range of workloads on Microsoft Windows, multiple Linux distributions, IBM AIX®, IBM i, and Solaris 10 operating systems, you can select exactly the right servers for the workloads you need to support, even mixing-and-matching them in a single chassis.

In addition, IBM offers the following unique eX5 innovations to help you further reduce cost and complexity and pre-integrated systems and solutions that can help you achieve faster time to value.

HP

When it comes to blade solutions, HP lacks choice and technology innovation. For instance, with Virtual Fabric for IBM BladeCenter, IBM offers a range of I/O virtualisation and convergence networking solutions based on advanced technologies from an ecosystem of Partners. If a customer has standardised on another vendor for switches, they will not have to rip-and-replace their existing hardware. HP requires Virtual Connect, an HP proprietary solution for their I/O virtualisation solution. This means customers’ who have standardised on another vendor for switches will need to rip-and-replace their hardware.

In addition, IBM provides innovative tools and solutions to help customers get faster time to value. IBM FastSetup is a no-cost software tool that helps reduce the hands-on server setup time from days to minutes, particularly for larger deployments. IBM SmartCloud Entry provides a fully integrated software stack for transforming a virtualised environment to a cloud environment. And finally, IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud, a comprehensive virtualisation platform, is designed to easily scale to a robust, private cloud solution with the addition of IBM SmartCloud Entry software.

Dell

Dell doesn’t offer any comparable blade innovations or pre-integrated offerings.

Cisco

Cisco UCS only provides x86 blade servers. With IBM BladeCenter, you can truly reduce the complexity, management, and energy requirements of your IT operations by consolidating your x86, IBM i, IBM AIX and Linux workloads in a single bladed architecture. And though Cisco UCS delivers Vblock, a pre-integrated platform for virtualisation and cloud computing, IBM delivers integrated and pretested solutions for cloud computing and virtualisation with IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud. In addition to providing a fully integrated virtualisation platform, IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud can easily be extended to a private cloud with the addition of IBM SmartCloud Entry software, and it can be done without having to rip-and-replace the installed infrastructure, unlike Cisco UCS Vblock.

 

Storage flexibility

IBM

IBM understands that building an enterprise infrastructure and/or virtual infrastructure requires end-to-end reliability. Moving to shared RAID storage can help increase your data and application availability and make management easier. In addition, IBM storage solutions enable many levels of flexibility that add capacity in a modular, nondisruptive manner. BladeCenter offerings include Direct Attach Storage (DAS), Network Attached Storage (NAS), as well as FCoE, Fibre Channel (FC), SAS, and iSCSI SAN connectivity using a range of drive types and RAID levels.

If you're seeking local hard drives, IBM offers high performance/high-availability integrated storage:

Blades:

Chassis:

HP

HP offers no compelling in-chassis, shared SAN solutions. In addition, HP lacks continuity across their storage platforms, which requires unnecessary use of IT resources.

Dell

Does Dell understand the power of blades? We think not. Dell has a one-size-fits-all mentality. This lack of vision is also evident in their storage offerings, which focuses on rack-server interoperability. In addition, Dell doesn’t offer SAS connectivity and overall, their storage products are low in performance compared to IBM System Storage Disk Systems.

Cisco

Cisco supports only FCoE from the chassis to the fabric interconnect.
Internal support for SAS, SATA, and SSD drives as well as a internal USB slot

Availability

IBM

The IBM BladeCenter platform is designed for maximum availability. IBM understands that resiliency is critical when consolidating multiple workloads into a single chassis. While other blade vendors talk about this concept, IBM has embraced it. The BladeCenter design incorporates rock-solid availability with many redundant features, to better protect you against a single, catastrophic fault taking down the entire system. With BladeCenter you get:

Tools like Predictive Failure Analysis, light path diagnostics and First Failure Data Capture work together to help warn you about problems—even before they occur. That's the kind of thinking you need when everything is riding on your IT. If a problem does occur, BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager can automatically detect the failure and bring up a spare blade, or move traffic from a failing switch or I/O port to working ones.

HP

Dell

Cisco

Can’t manage storage with UCS
Can’t deploy an OS or application with UCS Manager

Light path diagnostics

IBM

Light path diagnostics is an IBM solution designed to increase availability and speed service by illuminating LEDs next to parts that need attention.

This revolutionary technology helps expedite repairs and minimise downtime by quickly and clearly identifying those components that need maintenance—even without power to the blade. Just push a button and the battery will highlight the problem. This is a major IBM serviceability advantage.

HP

HP Insight Display provides no "insight" if blades are removed from the chassis. There is no battery to power the lights, meaning it cannot indicate a failed part on a test bench.

Dell

Dell only offers a front-mounted retractable LCD that delivers basic, real-time-only information, but individual Dell blades do not have any light-path functions to help in identifying failed components.

Cisco

Currently, Cisco does not offer comparable technology.

First Failure Data Capture

IBM

First Failure Data Capture simplifies problem determination by creating detailed event logs through the Advanced Management Module. This is especially helpful when there are cascading issues, as problem logs can get overridden. First Failure Data Capture is designed to help you find the original event that caused the issue so corrective action can be taken.

HP

Currently, HP does not offer comparable technology.

Dell

Currently, Dell does not offer comparable technology.

Cisco

Cisco UCS blades support First failute data capture, however it’s currently limited to setting "thresholds" for things such as memory and QPI errors which would alert the user. This, however, is not automated.

10 Gb Ethernet Flexibility

IBM

With a commitment to interoperability and open standards, IBM provides a selection of high performance Ethernet switch modules from a choice of industry-leading vendors, including BNT, Brocade and Cisco. This means that if you have already standardised on switches from one vendor, you don’t have to rip-and-replace to implement a BladeCenter solution. And, if you haven’t standardised on one vendor, you have the flexibility to mix-and-match as needed.

BladeCenter offers these 10Gb Ethernet switches today:

We have certified and pretesting on 3rd party switching.

HP

HP offers no choice or flexibility with their proprietary HP-only offerings.

Dell

Dell offers only the PowerConnect M8024 10GbE Switch. One choice. Too little flexibility.

Cisco

Cisco UCS does not support any switching inside the chassis.

I/O management software

IBM

IBM Fabric Manager is part of a comprehensive management solution for an IBM BladeCenter installation. It simplifies blade administration and provides SAN/LAN management, including virtualised I/O—the simplification of I/O addressing and failover. Fabric Manager makes it simple to get the most from your I/O. The suite runs on the Advanced Management Module, so you get a single interface for both server administration and SAN/LAN administration. Fabric Manager offers features suitable for organisations ranging from small businesses to global enterprises. It works with all BladeCenter Ethernet, Fibre Channel and SAS switches and fabrics—from Brocade, Cisco, IBM, and QLogic—and can help reduce the time it takes you to deploy servers, data and storage to minutes or hours instead of days or weeks.

HP

HP's Virtual Connect delivers similar functionality but with proprietary HP switches

Dell

Dell's FlexAddress delivers limited functionality when compared to IBM Fabric Manager for BladeCenter

Cisco

Cisco offers similar functionality but with proprietary Cisco switches

 

Predictive Failure Analysis

IBM

ONLY IBM monitors all vital system components for maximum availability. IBM Predictive Failure Analysis sends alerts in advance of potential hardware failure of key components, to trigger preemptive action, and IBM light path diagnostics leads a servicer directly to the failing component so it can be replaced quickly, potentially with no workload downtime.

PFA IBM HP DELL Cisco
Blades:
HDD and SSD Yes Yes Yes Yes
Memory Yes Yes Yes Yes
CPU Yes Yes No* No
Voltage Regulator Module (VRM) Yes No* No* No
Chassis:
Fan Yes No* No* No
Power supply Yes No* No* No

*These components are not mentioned in HP's**, Dell's** or Cisco’s pre-failure warranty support information.

** Links reside outside of ibm.com

Power and cooling

IBM

BladeCenter is designed from the ground up to dramatically improve power utilisation and reduce energy costs. In fact, aggregate power savings of BladeCenter vs. 1U servers and related external equipment can be as much as 30-40%. This can be attributed to a well-planned system architecture that includes high-efficiency power supplies and fans, lower-draw processors and memory, and a super-smart power delivery solution.

With IBM BladeCenter you get:

HP

Unlike HP, IBM has pioneered new technologies that allow IBM BladeCenter blades to generate less heat output and use less energy to cool the system. In fact, Edison Group, an independent technology analysis and consulting firm, found that it takes approximately 31% less airflow to cool the IBM BladeCenter E than an equivalently configured HP BladeSystem c7000.[5] In addition, BladeCenter chassis also offer significantly better performance-per-watt than equivalent HP systems: up to a 12% advantage with IBM BladeCenter H and up to a 22% advantage with IBM BladeCenter E.

Dell

While Dell says they provide efficient power management tools, their dynamic power monitoring through Dell OpenManage IT Assistant sets the power cap through a hard threshold. IBM can use power trending to set the power cap using IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager. Active Energy Manager enables power consumption to be monitored through IBM Systems Director, even when the BladeCenter system is powered down. In addition, Active Energy Manager works with IBM System x®, BladeCenter, iDataPlex™, and POWER servers, and also monitors storage and third-party equipment through the use of intelligent PDUs. Dell’s Power Manager can only manage Dell blades.

Cisco

Cisco’s UCS Manager offers no power or thermal monitoring capabilities and contains no ability to reduce power consumption via capping.


4 Based upon the September 2010 80 PLUS Verification and Testing Report (PDF, 99KB) where the IBM BladeCenter H chassis using 2980W power supplies earned a Platinum-level rating for energy efficiency and power factor. 80 PLUS is a certification program that promotes highly efficient power supplies (greater than 80% efficiency in the active mode) in technology applications.

5 Based upon the May 2010 whitepaper from Edison Group (PDF, 1,92MB)

Converged networking

IBM

The Brocade Converged 10GbE Switch Module offers one of the industry's best integrated I/O solutions. The compact design incorporates Ethernet and Fibre Channel switching and provides a total of 30 ports, including eight external 10Gb Ethernet CEE ports for LAN connectivity and eight external 8Gb Fibre Channel ports for storage and SAN connectivity. With the high integration of this module, you can achieve all of your networking and storage I/O needs with a single module.

HP

HP’s FlexFabric proprietary solution requires HP’s Virtual Connect Switch and expensive 10Gb infrastructure outside the chassis. In addition to providing rigid blade solutions, HP’s FCoE offerings provide half the bandwidth[6] of the IBM Brocade Converged Switch. Simply put, HP FCoE solutions offer no choice, no flexibility, and much lower performance.

Dell

Just like HP’s offering, Dell’s FCoE switch falls short in performance delivering 22% less bandwidth overall and 50% less Fibre Channel bandwidth[7] compared to the IBM Brocade Converged switch.

Cisco

Cisco UCS provides only four 10Gb Ethernet ports for each of the 8 blades servers in their 5108 Blade Server Chassis. Again, there is no integrated FCoE switching available with the Cisco UCS.
And because many clients like their already stable SAN implementation, and do not want to change it, if they implement UCS, they are forced to use a Cisco version of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). You cannot implement Fibre Channel down to the server in a UCS construct. This is an issue for many clients. With BladeCenter and System x, clients are not forced a move to FCoE until they are ready. And once the client is ready, IBM supports FCoE solutions from multiple vendors, including BNT, Brocade, and Cisco — offering clients a choice versus vendor lock-in.


6 HP’s Flex-10 technology with FCoE solution provides only four 10Gb Ethernet uplink ports (80Gb per second bidirectional Ethernet throughput) and four 8Gb Fibre Channel uplink ports (64Gb per second bidirectional Fibre Channel throughput) for a total of 144Gb per second throughput. IBM’s Brocade Converged switch provides eight 10Gb Ethernet uplink ports (160Gb per second bidirectional Ethernet throughput) and eight 8Gb Fibre Channel uplink ports (128Gb per second bidirectional Fibre Channel throughput) for a total of 288Gb per second throughput, doubling the overall throughput performance. http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/blades/components/ethernet/10gb24/index.html (link resides outside of ibm.com)

7 Dell’s FCoE solution provides eight 10Gb Ethernet uplink ports (160Gb per second bidirectional Ethernet throughput) and only four 8Gb Fibre Channel uplink ports (64Gb per second bidirectional Fibre Channel throughput) for a total of 224Gb per second throughput. IBM’s Brocade Converged switch provides eight 10Gb Ethernet uplink ports (160Gb per second bidirectional Ethernet throughput) and eight 8Gb Fibre Channel uplink ports (128Gb per second bidirectional Fibre Channel throughput) for a total of 288Gb per second throughput, doubling the Fibre Channel throughput performance. http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/dell-m8428-k/pd(link resides outside of ibm.com)

Virtual Fabric for IBM BladeCenter

IBM

The deployment of server virtualisation technologies in data centers requires significant efforts in providing sufficient network I/O bandwidth to satisfy the demand of virtualised applications and services. With a Virtual Fabric for IBM BladeCenter solution, you can significantly reduce complexity and cost by reducing switch, cable and adapter costs, while achieving better energy efficiency. At the same time, the virtual fabric solution gives you the capability to allocate and adjust bandwidth based on actual requirements and the flexibility to upgrade to hardware iSCSI (or FCoE—statement of direction), without losing your existing investment in switches and adapters.

Virtual Fabric for IBM BladeCenter supports:

HP

HP's Virtual Connect Flex-10 offering delivers similar functionality. However, IBM now supports vNIC2 which can work with Cisco Nexus 4001I, BNT and 10G Pass thru. It will also work with Brocade FCoE switch in the future.

Dell

Dell offers no comparable technology.

Cisco

Similar technology, but IBM Virtual Fabric offers flexible switch options while Cisco’s solution is proprietary
Virtual Fabric with virtual interface card and FEX technology.

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