IBM Bundles RAID into BladeCenter S i Edition, Adds Lots of Networking
November 2, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As part of the October 20 Dynamic Infrastructure announcements, IBM made a number of important changes to the BladeCenter blade servers, and many of these tweaks impact i shops that have or are planning to move to blade form factors.
The first change is that the preconfigured i Edition for BladeCenter S now has a version that includes the RAID SAS switch module for local disk storage for the JS12 blade in the configuration. As with the prior i Edition, the i 6.1 operating system is preconfigured on a JS12 blade server. The original i Edition of the blade bundle, which started shipping in May 2008 and which we told you about here, puts a single JS12 blade with both 3.8 GHz Power6 cores activated (with the PowerVM logical partitioning hypervisor Standard Edition on both cores, but with i 6.1 only on one core) in a BladeCenter S chassis. That blade comes with 2 GB of main memory and two 146 GB 10K RPM disks on the blade. IBM also threw in a six-disk SAS storage module with two 146 GB 15K RPM disks and a SAS connectivity module. The list price of this BladeCenter S i Edition bundle was $13,244, which IBM said at the time was about $2,000 lower than the cost of all of the pieces in the bundle if bought separately.
Last September, IBM shipped a RAID version of the SAS switch module for the BladeCenter, which allowed for RAID data protection and redundancy for the two SAS disk modules that are supported in the BladeCenter S chassis.
With the kicker i Edition bundle, IBM is taking out the one non-RAID SAS module and putting in two of the RAID SAS modules and throwing in three disks for each of the modules (the bare minimum for doing RAID 5 data protection). This new bundle costs $18,852, and the JS12 configuration is the same. The SAS RAID switch module has a list price of costs $1,069 the 146 GB small form factor disks cost $429 a pop at list price.
IBM also announced a slew of new switches for the BladeCenter chassis and network adapters to link blades to them. The most amusing of the new switches, consider that networking giant Cisco Systems is trying to push its way into the server racket, is the Cisco Nexus 4001I, a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch that supports the so-called Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) enhancements to Ethernet. These include the lossless Ethernet tweaks that allow for storage traffic to be converged over Ethernet using the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol that Cisco is using as a lever to get into the server racket. (By using FCoE, you have one switch for network and storage traffic, rather than two, and one port for network and storage traffic on the blade, rather than many.) The Nexus 4001I has 14 internal ports for linking to the 14 blade servers in the BladeCenter H and BladeCenter HT chasses; it will be available at the end of this week and costs $12,999.
IBM is also reselling a 10-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch made for the BladeCenters by Blade Network Technologies; this switch has 14 ports to link to the Power, x64, and Cell blades that IBM sells; it has a list price of $11,199. Not that many i shops give a care about InfiniBand (even though the 12X I/O links for remote I/O are based on it), IBM also on October 20 said it would start shipping a 16-port quad data rate InfiniBand switch made by Voltaire; this device plugs into a PCI-Express x8 slot on a BladeCenter blades (for two 40 Gb/sec ports going into the server) and has 16 external ports coming out of the chassis to the outside world. This Voltaire InfiniBand switch has a list price of $11,999.
IBM also announced a 10-port 8 Gb/sec Fibre Channel SAN switch from Brocade Communications, which is used to link from the blades out to storage area networks. This switch costs $6,699. There is also a 20-port 8 Gb/sec Fibre Channel switch from Brocade that IBM is now reselling that costs $9,779.
Finally, IBM has a 10 Gigabit Ethernet pass-through module with 14 ports, which costs $4,999, and a converged network adapter from QLogic that puts the functionality of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port and an 8 Gb/sec Fibre Channel port on a single card that runs both protocols over CEE and links into CEE-enabled switches. This converged adapter costs $1,499.