Q: HP states that IBM’s highly touted backwards compatibility doesn’t hold up in all cases. Is this true?
A: IBM BladeCenter was engineered and designed with future technologies in mind. In fact, IBM’s original BladeCenter chassis which was launched in 2001, is still able to support the latest 8Gbps Fibre Channel speeds. IBM BladeCenter is the only blade vendor to that will completely support 8Gbps adapters and switches for the blade platform.
By deploying the new 8 gigabits per second fibre channel offerings, IBM BladeCenter clients will be able to take advantage of a high-performance architecture that has proven benefits. For a client, these can mean huge benefits. In MS-Exchange-like workloads, clients will have to deploy 68% more HP switching and HBA hardware to support the same number of email users by using the 8Gbps switches and HBAs. In addition, for MS-Exchange backup-like workloads, clients will have to deploy 26% more HP switching and HBA to support the same number of user backups.
Other benefits of using 8Gbps fiber offerings with the IBM BladeCenter include:
By contrast, although HP does ship the 8Gbps switches, they have not announced any plans to support 8Gbps through their current c-class chassis midplane. This is a very important difference for our clients, and it comes as a surprise that HP may not be able to deliver the latest 8 gigabits per second fibre channel speeds, given this is the 3rd design of their midplane in the last eight years.
IBM BladeCenter remains the Right Choice for clients looking for IT that will be forward compatible. IBM is able to offer 8 gigabits per second fibre channel speeds across all its chassis portfolio, including the original BladeCenter chassis first announced in 2001. This stands as a testament to BladeCenter’s rock-solid design and intense focus on delivering solutions that will meet the needs of our clients today as well as into the future.
Q: HP states that their Blades have no redundancy issues on their Blade System chassis... Is this true?
A: With virtualization and server consolidation, hardware RAS (reliability, availability, serviceability) becomes extremely critical, as any component breakdown could result in entire system downtime.
For some time, IBM has been stating that IBM BladeCenter is ahead of HP C class in many areas. One specific item is the fact that the IBM BladeCenter chassis has no Single Point of Failure. The IBM BladeCenter chassis is designed with a high-availability mid-plane with two paths between the servers and the components in the back of the chassis like switches or management modules. Conversly, HP has a single power bus in the chassis, resulting in a single point of failure.
As a matter of fact, HP recently published a document in which they admit this significant single point of failure in the C3000/C7000 Blades chassis - and a specific power supply issue. In the document, HP admits that the power supply failure would result in an unplanned shutdown of the enclosure, despite power supply redundancy, and render the enclosure inoperable. Here is a link to the full release:
Customers should know that even after replacing the power supply, the HP chassis would still have a single point of failure given their chassis design. What this means to you as a customer is that if any of the power bus components fail, then the whole chassis will go down -- regardless of redundant power supplies. Needless to say if you are a user running Virtualization in these environments, hundreds of business critical applications could be taken off line. The following video highlights some of the key features of the IBM BladeCenter design that result in superior RAS over HP BladeSystem:
With IBM BladeCenter, you can power on your system with confidence. The IBM BladeCenter chassis has no single points of failure, is completely redundant, and protects your mission critical applications. IBM BladeCenter chassis have redundant and hot-swap power supplies, blowers, and switches. They also have 4 completely separate and redundant wiring for power supplies and redundant connectors from the blade to the mid-plane for power and I/O connections. All of this equals the most complete and resilient blade offering in the industry. Why trust you your data and mission critical applications on any other blade platform? IBM's innovative and redundant design is all you need to address your most difficult datacenter challenges.
This is one more reason why IBM BladeCenter is the RIGHT choice.
Q: Our competitors are claiming that IBM’s licensing deal with Lenovo for x86 servers means IBM is getting out of the server business. Is this true?
A: HP would have the world believe that due to our licensing deal on x86 technology with Lenovo—exactly the same kind we have with other industry partners such as Rackable—that their dream has come true: IBM is leaving the x86 server business. We’re sorry to disappoint HP, but that’s just wrong. IBM is in the x86 business to win.
With HP on the attack, it is our job to educate our customers about Lenovo’s entry as a competitor. It is our intention to target different markets. Lenovo’s entire set of x86 offerings compete with a very limited subset of our entry-level rack and tower servers. They offer nothing to compete with our blade servers, our high-performance computing offerings like iDataPlex, or our enterprise eX4-based servers. We offer quality system management tools with every system we sell, and we offer unmatched worldwide support.
We continue to lead the industry in investment in x86 innovation. We’ve put one hundred million dollars of investment into IBM iDataPlex to solve the needs of large-scale datacenters. Our small and medium business blade solution, IBM BladeCenter S, is a much stronger product than HP’s comparable offering, and is now providing great value to customers by providing a low-cost, all-in-one SAN solution with the introduction of our new ServRAID Vault Controller. And on the high end, we just announced updates to our fourth-generation enterprise architecture systems with refreshes to the System x3850 M2 and x3950 M2. These updates have rocketed us beyond the 1M transactions per minute milestone where no other competitor can touch us.
Q: Have you seen HP’s ProLiant BL495c G5 blade announcement? HP claims it’s the first blade built for virtualization. Is this true?
A: We are aware of HP’s claim. It's not true. In fact, the IBM BladeCenter® HS21 XM blade server has been available in the marketplace since February 13, 2007, and is the industry’s first blade server designed to combat virtualization bottlenecks with:
Q: HP also claims that the BL495c G5 is 45% lower in cost-per-virtual-machine (VM) compared to IBM BladeCenter. Is this true?
A: Again, not true. HP compared their blade server with quad-core processors and 8GB DIMMs to IBM’s BladeCenter LS21 with dual-core processors and 4GB DIMMs—producing an apples-to-oranges result. IBM offers AMD quad-core processors in the IBM BladeCenter LS22 and LS42 blade servers. The LS42 (like the predecessor LS41, a key element in the first supercomputer to break the petaflop barrier (US)), allows you to scale from a two-socket server to a four-socket server for easy growth and investment protection. With an energy-efficient design featuring low-power DDR II memory capable of running at 800MHz, low-voltage quad-core AMD Opteron processors, an integrated memory controller, Dual Dynamic Power Management and solid-state internal storage options, the BladeCenter LS42 server can deliver more virtual machines per core at a lower cost and with lower power consumption per virtual machine.
Summary: IBM offers multiple blade servers to meet your virtualization needs, including the BladeCenter HS21 XM and the LS42. The BL495c G5 blade server is not the first blade designed for virtualization, nor is it the optimal platform for virtualization. With IBM BladeCenter you get revolutionary scalability, faster memory, a choice of high-performance I/O and storage options for a highly reliable platform that helps reduce complexity, improves systems management and increases energy efficiency while driving down total cost of ownership. For applications demanding the maximum computing power in an x86-based system, the IBM System x3850 M2 server can scale to 24 cores, 256GB of memory, and 7 I/O slots (2 of them hot-plug). In fact, the x3850 M2 with embedded hypervisor won Best of Show at VMWorld 2007. If even the x3850 M2 isn’t enough for your needs, the IBM System x3950 M2 can scale to 96 cores, 1TB of memory, and 28 I/O slots (8 hot-plug)—the ultimate virtualization design.
Q: In a reply to our statements that HP's c3000 server was too loud for an office environment, HP claimed their c3000 "Shorty" model does not have noise issues. What are third parties saying on the issue?
A: The issue of noise levels from their c3000 blade chassis has been covered in the press. There was a recent Computerworld review that addresses the concerns we discovered. You can see the review here (US)
We also have seen the issue on HP's Web site with recommendations on how to deal with noise issues. (US)
The facts are that the BladeCenter S runs extremely quiet vs the HP c3000, so quiet that it can easily be deployed under a desk in any office enviroment and use a standard office power outlet. See comparison chart below:
Q: In early 2007, HP published a report by Sine Nomine Associates claiming that HP’s blade offering was more energy efficient and their cooling technology is superior to IBM BladeCenter. How do you respond to those claims?
A: In November 2007, IBM did extensive power testing on the BladeCenter and HP BladeSystem c-Class solutions. The results depict a clear advantage to IBM. Through a well-planned system design that includes more energy-efficient power supplies, energy efficient chassis, energy efficient local storage and a smarter power delivery solution, IBM showcased power savings up to 25%, depending on the chassis used. Please see the report that details the findings from Edison Group, a third party analyst that conducted the tests.
Summary: HP has fallen short on power and cooling efficiency for the past several years. With the BladeSystem c-Class, HP started from scratch and still fell short in designing a solution that matches the system-level efficiency of IBM BladeCenter.
1http://vmware.com/products/vmmark/results.html. As of 09/05/08.