Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market

IBM Flex System surpasses blade offerings in every respect August 2012 ® Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market Mark T. Chapma...
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IBM Flex System surpasses blade offerings in every respect August 2012 ®

Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market

Mark T. Chapman IBM Systems and Technology Group

Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market Page 2

Executive Overview The announcement of IBM® PureSystems™ inaugurated a new era of computing. More than just a new server or family of servers, PureSystems introduced a new way of thinking about computing, offering previously unheard-of levels of out-of-the-box integration and built-in expertise. The PureSystems family offers clients the flexibility to custom-build and tune their configurations, the simplicity of pre-configured, factory-integrated infrastructure and management, and the control of pre-integrated platform systems. IBM PureFlex System™, part of the IBM PureSystems family of expert integrated systems, combines advanced IBM hardware and software with patterns of expertise and integrates them into optimized configurations that are simple to acquire and deploy, so you can achieve faster time to value. IBM Flex System™, the elements that make up IBM PureFlex System, allows you to build your own system to meet your unique IT requirements with a set of no-compromise components, including compute, storage, networking and systems management. • IBM PureFlex System™ — If you need a pre-configured, pre-integrated infrastructure with integrated management and cloud capabilities, factory tuned from IBM with x86 and IBM POWER® compute nodes, IBM PureFlex System is the answer. • IBM Flex System™ — If you want to custom-build and tune a configuration to meet your specific requirements, using the most advanced blade server in the market with maximum x86 compute and memory performance, IBM Flex System is the right fit. Whether you choose IBM PureFlex System or IBM Flex System, you get extraordinary compute power, storage capability, and networking flexibility with the latest processors and a nocompromise design. Advantages include: • •

Twice the application density in the same floor space1 Energy costs reductions of up to 40%2

For many customers, the integration and built-in expertise of PureFlex System offerings can save time and money and produce superior results. But other customers prefer to “roll their own” configurations. In those cases, IBM Flex System is the preferred offering. IBM Flex System is quite simply the best blade offering on the market. The rest of this document explains briefly how and why IBM Flex System outperforms mere blade systems..

IBM Flex System vs. Blade Systems IBM was one of the pioneers in blade computing, and with a decade of experience in that arena IBM has learned a lot about what works well and what needs improving. With IBM Flex System design, IBM has improved every aspect of blade computing, from servers to chassis, to networking, to storage and I/O, to management. Briefly, here is the combination of capabilities that Flex System solutions offer and blade systems ® from HP, Dell, Cisco and, yes, even IBM BladeCenter , can’t:

Compute Nodes (Blades) Flex System compute nodes (x220, x240, and x440) offer flexibility no one else can match, uncompromised processor support, and maximum memory: • 1

A choice of 2- and 4-socket servers, using Intel Xeon processors

Based on IBM testing and documented in IBM System x® Virtualization Server Consolidation sizing methodology. The IBM Flex System x240 Compute Node supports 2.7X more Peak Utilization Virtual Machines (VMs) than previous generation BladeCenter blades. 2 Flex System x240 Compute Node requires 40% less energy than earlier-generation Intel x86 processor technology.

Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market Page 3 •

The full range of Intel Xeon E5-2400, E5-2600, and E5-4600 series of CPUs, including the high-end 130W and 135W processors

Support for up to 768GB (2 sockets) or 1.5TB (4 sockets) of DDR3 memory using 32GB LRDIMMs

The industry’s most flexible storage solution offering: o Hot-swap support for two 2.5-inch SAS/SATA HDDs or Solid State Drives (SSDs), or four 1.8-inch SSDs o Up to four additional internal fixed SSDs o A unique implementation of high-speed RAID and flash capability with IBM Flex System Flash, which supports eight SSDs in the compute nodes (with up to 1.6TB of SSD storage capacity)

• •

Next-generation PCIe 3.0 adapter slots The flexibility to add high-IOPS SSDs and GPU solutions via PCIe expansion nodes

Support for up to 8 10Gb Ethernet Virtual Fabric ports per server and support for up to 32 vNICs per server

The industry’s widest support of I/O technologies, including Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel Over Ethernet (FCoE, planned), iSCSI, and InfiniBand

Virtualization support for KVM, VMware, or Microsoft Hyper-V

• •

OS support for Microsoft Windows, and Linux from Red Hat and SUSE Full redundancy, including redundant hypervisors on dual flash keys, for no single point of failure

Benefits include: •

Choice, ranging from price-optimized entry nodes to nodes providing the performance required by the most demanding workloads

• •

Maximum performance, due to industry-leading memory capabilities and top-end processors Up to 50% more memory capacity than HP3

Chassis Unlike competitive chassis offerings that may have compromised support of future technologies, the IBM Flex System Enterprise chassis is designed for multiple generations of technology. It offers: •

14 standard-width or 7 full-width bays, or any combination, for compute nodes, storage nodes, and expansion nodes

• •

Four scalable high-speed switch bays Support for 40Gb Ethernet networking

Node-to-node traffic contained within the chassis, to significantly reduce Top-of-Rack (ToR) switch latency

• •

Integrated chassis management Headroom to support future power and cooling needs: o Up to six 2500W power supplies (with N+N multipleredundancy or N+1 single-redundancy) o Up to eight scalable fans Full redundancy of power, cooling, I/O, and other major components


IBM Flex System x240 (768GB) compared to HP BL 460c Gen8 (512GB).

Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market Page 4 Benefits include: • •

High resiliency for maximum uptime Maximum flexibility, supporting multiple fabrics, standard- and double-width compute nodes, and maximum growth potential as new generations of technology emerge

Networking One of the biggest bottlenecks for most chassis is networking bandwidth. The Flex System Enterprise chassis design provides more networking flexibility and growth potential than other blade offerings: •

Scalable switching, allowing the user to upgrade connectivity/features, without rip-andreplace.

Support for present and future networking technologies: 1Gb, 10Gb, 40Gb Ethernet, and beyond. The industry’s first 40Gb-capable blade Ethernet uplink switch, 16Gb-capable blade SAN switch, and 56Gb-capable InfiniBand FDR (Fourteen Data Rate) switch.

• • •

Support for 40Gb Ethernet uplinks for reduced cabling to ToR switches. Support for Fibre Channel options ranging from low-cost 8GB to highly scalable16Gb switches for maximum performance.

Feature on Demand (FoD) iSCSI features and upgrades dynamically via software upgrade without hardware outages (avoiding the rip-and-replace approach of some competitive offerings).

Support for the IBM Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V for easy management and switching of VMs in a VMware environment.

Embedded L2/L3 chassis switching to enable a lowest-latency, highest-bandwidth connection for East-West traffic, without involving the Top-of-Rack switches for in-chassis communication. This cuts latency by as much as half.

10Gb Ethernet pass-thru for easy, unmanaged connectivity of the Flex System Enterprise Chassis to any external network infrastructure.

Benefits include:

• •

Up to 3X the networking bandwidth offered by HP.4 The flexibility to start small and grow when you’re ready. You’re not locked into today’s technology.

Storage and I/O An IBM Flex System solution offers the best combination of internal and external storage and I/O capabilities: • IBM Flex System Flash offers unmatched dedicated storage, with up to 8 enterprise SSDs (1.6TB) in a Flex System compute node, including an SSD-optimized 1GB Super-Capacitorbacked IBM ServeRAID® adapter. It provides up to 475K IOPS for superior database performance with distributed database applications, business analytics and intelligence workloads, transaction processing, and media streaming. • IBM Storwize® V7000, with up to 12 hot-swap 3.5-inch HDDs (up to 36TB) or 24 hot-swap 2.5-inch SSDs or HDDs, offers the ability to virtualize IBM and third-party storage with nondisruptive migration of the current storage infrastructure. Virtualized storage inherits all of the storage’s rich function, including FlashCopy, Easy Tier, and thin provisioning. Storwize


IBM Flex System Fabric EN4093 10Gb Scalable Switch has a maximum of 240Gb bandwidth, compared to the HP Flex 10 10Gb switch’s limit of only 80Gb bandwidth.

Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market Page 5

V7000 supports integrated realtime compression, enabling storage of up to 5X as much active primary data in the same physical space for extraordinary levels of efficiency. IBM Flex System PCIe Expansion Node offers unprecedented PCIe expansion capabilities in a blade type environment. The node supports 2 standard full-height, full-length PCIe Gen 3 slots, and two low-profile PCIe Gen 3 slots. Because it accepts standard PCIe cards, it supports graphics, I/O, and storage adapters, including controllers for external storage servers and SAN adapters.

Benefits include: • • •

Up to 3X the dedicated storage for compute nodes, compared to Dell5 Reduced storage needs via realtime compression Data automatically optimized among HDDs and SSDs on the node’s tiered storage for better performance

Systems Management For today data centers, IT management is always a challenge. Often it is too complex and requires too many on-site visits and too much hands-on time. What’s needed is simplified systems management. IBM Flex System Manager provides a pre-integrated and virtualized management environment across servers, storage, and networking that is easily managed remotely from a single interface. It’s one tool to manage all physical and virtual resources. Features include: •

A new user interface with a chassis map and overlays, global search, and setup wizards, which enables a better management experience and reduces time and steps for most common tasks

• • • •

Extensive automation capabilities to help you bring new components online faster Cross-resource integration to manage applications and workloads, instead of components. Real-time management of systems and workloads on Day One, right out of the box. Switch-neutrality (works with pass-thru modules).

• •

Scalable management as your system grows. Compatibility with the management you already have: other IBM platform tools, including Tivoli®, and third-party enterprise management (e.g., CA, BMC, HP, etc.).

Benefits include:


Management integration of resource pools across compute, storage and networking reduces management costs up to 50%6

• •

Integrated, automated storage provisioning in up to 98% less time Up to 66% faster set-up time8


IBM Flex System Flash on the x240 Compute Node supports up to 3.2TB, compared to Dell M610 with only 800GB. Source: ITG whitepaper, “Value Proposition for IBM Next Generation Platform System”. ITG interviewed a group of companies “before” PureFlex System and “after” PureFlex System. The results from the group of 6 companies had a peak predicted administrator efficiency improvement of 57% and an average of 42%. IBM PureFlex System and IBM Flex System solutions benefit similarly from the use of the IBM Flex System Manager. 7 IBM internal Research & Development estimate comparing VMControl’s ability to automatically provision storage to a VM (90second duration) vs. 2 administrators (storage and server admins) allocating the storage manually without VMControl (2-hour duration). Specific client environments and results may vary. 8 Based on IBM internal Research & Development estimates and measurements. The management server setup for IBM Flex System takes 131 minutes. Equivalent setup for BladeCenter takes 388 minutes. This is based on the “build to order” approach, and is therefore very conservative. In other words, if we were to consider the preconfigured options (Express, Standard, and Enterprise), the savings would be far larger. Only the 66% savings is claimed for conservatism. Compared to previous-generation blade servers. 6

Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market Page 6 IBM Fabric Manager (the evolution of BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager), an optional easy-touse server provisioning I/O management tool, automates deployment steps, reduces errors, and makes administrators more efficient. Features include: • Automatic provisioning of I/O addresses •

Pre-defined configurations of I/O parameters, such as MAC addresses for Ethernet, World Wide Names and SAN boot targets

I/O parameter and VLAN migration to standby compute nodes in case of compute node failure, and executes action plans based on triggered events

Benefits include: • Faster server deployment times • Saving system administrators from doing repetitive and potentially error-prone tasks •

A view of data center operations with event triggers and problem notifications

Summary The IBM Flex System offering provides performance, flexibility, and investment protection that no other blade offering can match. An IBM Flex System solution delivers: • The industry’s first single management tool for all physical resources • The first storage virtualization solution for internal and external storage • • • • •

The first E5-2600-equipped blade to offer 768GB memory capacity for all processor configurations The first high-IOPS flash storage node/blade for unmatched dedicated storage flexibility The first 40GbE-capable blade uplink switch The first 16Gb-capable blade SAN switch The first 56Gb-capable blade InfiniBand FDR switch

With the best blades, chassis, networking, storage, and management capabilities, an IBM Flex System solution surpasses blades in every respect9. For more details about the products and technologies, contact an IBM sales rep or business partner, or go to http://ibm.com/systems/pureflex/flex_overview.html.


For clients with existing BladeCenter investments, IBM has a committed roadmap. For more information, contact your business partner or IBM representative.

Why IBM Flex System is the Best Blade Solution on the Market Page 7

For More Information IBM Flex System Servers IBM PureSystems Expert Integrated Systems IBM System x and BladeCenter Power Configurator IBM Standalone Solutions Configuration Tool IBM Configuration and Options Guide IBM ServerProven Program Technical Support Other Technical Support Resources

http://ibm.com/systems/pureflex/flex_overview.html http://ibm.com/ibm/puresystems

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© IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Systems and Technology Group Dept. U2SA 3039 Cornwallis Road Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 Produced in the USA August 2012 For a copy of applicable product warranties, write to: Warranty Information, P.O. Box 12195, RTP, NC 27709, Attn: Dept. JDJA/B203. IBM makes no representation or warranty regarding third-party products or services including those ® ® designated as ServerProven or ClusterProven . Telephone support may be subject to additional charges. For onsite labor, IBM will attempt to diagnose and resolve the problem remotely before sending a technician. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, IBM Flex System, AIX, BladeCenter, ClusterProven, Flex System Manager, POWER, PureFlex System, PureSystems, ServeRAID, ServerProven, Storwize, System x, and Tivoli, are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. For a list of additional IBM trademarks, please see http://ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Intel, the Intel Logo, and Xeon are registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. Microsoft, the Microsoft logo, Hyper-V, and Windows Server are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product, and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.


http://ibm.com/systems/x/hardware/configtools.html http://ibm.com/systems/x/hardware/configtools.html http://ibm.com/systems/info/x86servers/serverproven/compat/us

http://ibm.com/server/support http://ibm.com/systems/support

This publication may contain links to third party sites that are not under the control of or maintained by IBM. Access to any such third party site is at the user's own risk and IBM is not responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any information, data, opinions, advice or statements made on these sites. IBM provides these links merely as a convenience and the inclusion of such links does not imply an endorsement. Information in this presentation concerning non-IBM products was obtained from the suppliers of these products, published announcement material or other publicly available sources. IBM has not tested these products and cannot confirm the accuracy of performance, compatibility or any other claims related to non-IBM products. Questions on the capabilities of non-IBM products should be addressed to the suppliers of those products. MB, GB and TB = 1,000,000, 1,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000 bytes, respectively, when referring to storage capacity. Accessible capacity is less; up to 3GB is used in service partition. Actual storage capacity will vary based upon many factors and may be less than stated. Performance is in Internal Throughput Rate (ITR) ratio based on measurements and projections using standard IBM benchmarks in a controlled environment. The actual throughput that any user will experience will depend on considerations such as the amount of multiprogramming in the user’s job stream, the I/O configuration, the storage configuration and the workload processed. Therefore, no assurance can be given that an individual user will achieve throughput improvements equivalent to the performance ratios stated here. Maximum internal hard disk and memory capacities may require the replacement of any standard hard drives and/or memory and the population of all hard disk bays and memory slots with the largest currently supported drives available. When referring to variable speed CD-ROMs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs and DVDs, actual playback speed will vary and is often less than the maximum possible. WZW12347-USEN-00

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