One of the great server options for virtualization is are the new Dell PowerEdge M600 and M605 blades that use the M1000e chassis. This chat will focus on the reasons to use blades and the reasons not to use blades as a virtualization server with specific focus on power consumption, I/O ports, memory capacity, and performance.

Technical Community - Background Reading

Selecting a Virtualization Server
Virtualization Server Selection Matrix
10g Blades
Recommendations for Blade Server - DellTechCenter Discussion Thread
VMware ESX Server on Blades - DellTechCenter Discussion Thread

Chat Transcript

Kristoffer joined.
DELL-ScottH Hello Kristoffer, how goes it?
Kristoffer Hi Scott, it goes well. I'm just here to see what’s going on. I'm a new Dell customer waiting for my new chassis and AX4 SAN. Just getting to know Dell :-)
DELL-ScottH Cool, welcome, and feel free to ask any questions, and thanks for coming to Dell. We have about 10 minutes before we start, and we usually just chit chat. Todd will do an official kick off; interact as much or as little as you like...lurkers are welcome :-)
Kristoffer Thanks, sounds great. So you guys are here every Tuesday, or is it different Dell techs in here?
DELL-ScottH Todd and I are here every Tuesday; we try to have guest developers in from time to time, but Todd and I are always here, and there's all kinds of people (Dell and others) on the site
DELL-ToddM Scott and I are here pretty much every week—other Dell engineers will drop in depending on topic
DELL-ScottH Just start a discussion thread on any page, and you’ll see them crawl out of the woodwork :-)
DELL-ToddM Speaking of which, thanks for pointing out that comment
DELL-ScottH Is this your first Dell system?
DELL-ToddM I just responded
Kristoffer Ok. Are you hardware technicians or?
DELL-ToddM We are more like solution architects
DELL-ToddM We have a broad background in x86 servers, storage, and applications
Kristoffer Cool
DELL-ScottH I specialize in systems management—OpenManage for the Dell side, dabble in virtualization, and I came from IBM and have a strong background in x86, SAN, etc.
DELL-ToddM I have done lots of testing, writing of whitepapers, and presenting on topics like SQL Server, VMware, SAN, Exchange
DELL-ToddM Currently I am focusing on virtualization
DELL-ScottH typical geeks, part time Hak0rz
Kristoffer Great. I'm building a Xen hosting environment with an M1000e with an AX4
DELL-ScottH And we play a lot of Team Fortress 2!
Kristoffer Haha, nice
DELL-ScottH URL?
Kristoffer Not yet. This is my second day as self employed, and I'm receiving the equipment in two days, so there has been no time to do any home page yet ;)
DELL-ScottH Ah, trying to give you a free plug, maybe next chat
DELL-ToddM We are getting close to start-time, but let’s give people a few minutes to get joined in
DELL-ToddM Why did you decide to go with Xen?
Kristoffer It's free. ;-) And I have experience with it on servers with direct attach storage. This will be my first Xen setup with a SAN
ramseyg joined.
Dell-RogerF joined.
DELL-ScottH Hey Greg, Roger
DELL-ToddM Hello
Maureen_McCann joined.
ramseyg Jello all
Dell-RogerF Afternoon
DELL-ToddM Hello Maureen!
DELL-ScottH Hi Maureen
DELL-ToddM I will officially get things started in a minute or two—still waiting for the crowd to gather
Maureen_McCann Hello! Looking forward to learning!
DELL-ScottH FYI, use "action" "recent Room History" to catch up on the conversation
DELL-ToddM Kristoffer, Why did you decide to select 1000e blades?
Dell-Marc joined.
DELL-ToddM Howdy Marc
DELL-ScottH Hey Marc
Kristoffer I liked the idea of the easy management of blades with switching etc.
Dell-Marc Hey Todd, hey Scott
Kristoffer Just seems like a nice and clean setup with almost no cables ;)
DELL-ScottH Yeah, when can me plug into the real "ether"? :-)
DELL-ToddM I assume that you are just going to use the switches in the blades chassis for your SAN, which will save cables and cost
Kristoffer Sure, two switches for Ethernet, two for iSCSI, and two spares for future needs
DELL-ToddM I would like to officially welcome everybody to today's TechTuesday chat!
DELL-ToddM The topic for today is Blades and Virtualization, or more specifically, “When to use Blades for Virtualization”
DELL-ToddM This is the third chat in a series of chats that we have had here on www.delltechcenter.com on Selecting the Right Server for Virtualization
DELL-ToddM There is a landing page for this topic at: http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/selecting+a+server+for+virtualization
Robby joined.
DELL-ToddM Welcome back, Robby
DELL-ScottH Hey Robby, how you been?
Robby Good, thought I stop by and see what's new.
DELL-ToddM There are links to the previous chat transcripts and other resources for helping you to decide the right server for you
dell-marcf2 joined.
DELL-ToddM Last week we talked about 2-socket or 4-socket servers
dell-marcf2 Hi, my machine froze, so I'm back on another
DELL-ToddM Which is basically the 2950/R805 or R900/R905 in terms of specific servers
DELL-ToddM Marc, Maybe you should run a virtual machine with a browser in it? :)
DELL-ToddM So today we wanted to focus on blade servers
DELL-ToddM Specifically the M1000e chassis and M600 or M605 blades
DELL-ToddM Kristoffer is awaiting the arrival of his M1000e blade chassis as we chat
DELL-ToddM We were discussing his specific configuration and reasons for choosing blades just before we got started
Kristoffer I'm so excited :)
DELL-ToddM I always get excited when I know that a new system is about to arrive
Kristoffer Actually I started with an IBM configuration
DELL-ToddM There is something about opening a box with a new computer that I have always loved
Kristoffer But Dell actually provided better features on the blades
DELL-ToddM Can you be specific about which features?
DELL-ScottH That's great to hear! FYI: I lead the very first beta program with the IBM blades, and look where I am now! We both made the right choice
Kristoffer On IBM going with an 8-core 32 GB memory blade; you would have to use 2 SSD disks to have disk redundancy
Kristoffer Dell has this, even with hotspares
Kristoffer And 10 G uplinks already on the basic switches
Kristoffer That did it for me
DELL-ToddM I would guess that since you are doing a hosting facility; you need as much RAM and processor as possible to be able to host maximum VMs per blade
Robby left.
Kristoffer Yes, and I've heard that it should be possible to run 64 GB RAM in the blades this fall, even though that must be a little hot
DELL-ToddM I haven't seen the dates on when additional RAM capacities will be available, but I would assume this is true and will be once the 8 GB DIMMS are available for blades
DELL-ToddM One choice that you have to make, after picking blades, is processor architecture: Intel or AMD?
DELL-ToddM The M600 is Intel
DELL-ToddM The M605 is AMD
DELL-ToddM A mini decoder ring!
DELL-ScottH Ha
Kristoffer AMD is nice because of the memory not running as hot as the fully buffered modules on the Intels
Kristoffer And they should be faster too
Kristoffer But I like the idea of the L5420 CPU
DELL-ScottH Are you in a hosted facility, or your own facilities?
Kristoffer Compensating for the power usage of the memory blocks :)
Kristoffer I will be in a hosted facility
DELL-ToddM I haven't checked lately, but pricing on the memory with AMD used to be slightly less. Was that the case for you?
DELL-ScottH Curious, do they charge by rack U space, or also by BTUs?
DELL-ToddM In the interest of being fair and balanced on the AMD or Intel question, Intel does show a bit better performance in most benchmarks
Kristoffer I don't know about the memory pricing actually. I just thought the M600 was the better of the two, with all the problems AMD has had with their new CPU
Kristoffer They charge rack Us and amps
Kristoffer I'm getting 2 x 16 amp in one rack
Kristoffer For redundancy; hopefully, I will never hit 32 amps :)
DELL-ScottH Do they charge on what you "use" or what they installed in the rack?
DELL-ToddM Along those lines, blades can save you on power in comparison to traditional rack servers
Kristoffer They charge on what I use, although either 10 or 16 amps
DELL-ToddM I did a blog entry last week that highlights the power consumption with blades question: http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/05-29-2008+ultimate+power+efficiency+with+blades+and+virtualization+-+comments
Kristoffer Actually, I heard that the IBM bladecenter is using more power compared to 1U IBM servers, but I guess that's a difficult measure
Kristoffer Dell's supposed to be even less power hungry ;)
DELL-ScottH It's not too difficult; they have a rack calculator that will show the power draw for any configuration
DELL-ToddM The numbers for blades being more power efficient assume that you are using all 16 blade slots in comparison to 16 1U servers
Kristoffer Sure, but then you have switches and disks etc.
DELL-ScottH You can use our power calc and theirs and do a 16 x 1U versus 16 blades configuration on both
DELL-ScottH You can add the switches in both the Dell and IBM calc—gives a pretty close estimate
DELL-ToddM Actual power usage can vary quite a bit based on load; the power calculators are usually conservative and use figures that are higher in the range
Dell-Marc left.
Kristoffer Sure, in the IBM story it was just strange to hear that you actually would use less power with 1U servers. Anyway, the reason I chose blades, without actually knowing Dell’s OpenManage, was the ability to have easy access to all the nice IP-KVM and switch configuration stuff. I guess this is even more important than the very big rack servers. I also like the idea of having more, smaller servers in case of problems, when I don't have the funds to buy a lot of big servers
DELL-ToddM I agree that you made the right choice in selecting blade servers; I also lean toward more smaller baskets than fewer larger baskets
DELL-ToddM More flexibility
DELL-ScottH Yeah, you've invested in the chassis that has the power, cooling, KVM, etc. All the infrastructure…so you don't have to pay for this stuff again as you incrementally add more blades—makes sense
DELL-ScottH Were starting a blades/management topic next week, and you'll like the fact that you can do everything over the Internet for management, power, console, updates, etc.
DELL-ToddM For blades to make sense, however, you really need to have it mostly full, or plan to have it full in the future
DELL-ToddM If you are only going to need five or six servers, then it really makes sense to look at 2950 or R805
DELL-ToddM Do you have any questions about configuration? Management? We will do our best to answer
Kristoffer Hmm...not yet really. :) Maybe next week. I'm just looking forward to setting it all up.
DELL-ToddM We have recently had some activity on the Xen section of Dell TechCenter: www.delltechcenter.com/page/citrix+xenserver+dell+edition
DELL-ToddM You could post a question to the discussion threads area at the bottom of these pages, if needed
DELL-ToddM The other question that I want to ask you is about your storage
Kristoffer Cool, I think right now the most exciting thing about this setup will be configuring the virtual machines block devices on the SAN
Kristoffer Optimizing it, and resizing will be fun
DELL-ToddM Why the AX4 iSCSI array?
DELL-ToddM We have lots of options for iSCSI these days
Kristoffer Strictly from a price/performance point of view
Kristoffer I've looked at the MD3000i
Kristoffer And the nexsan solutions
DELL-ToddM The MD3000i has been a fairly popular topic on the TechCenter at times
Kristoffer But I'm on a budget, and I liked the fact that the AX can have 60 disks
DELL-ToddM Seems like lots of customers consider the MD3000i as their first iSCSI array
Kristoffer Only 512 MB of cache
DELL-ToddM In terms of value, the EqualLogic PS Series is pretty compelling because all of the software features are included with the array. There are no additional charges for replication options, etc.
DELL-ToddM So once you get futher into your experience with the external storage arrays and you want to start doing some "cool stuff" the Equallogic stuff becomes more interesting
Kristoffer If you need all the features and the scalability and management, yes they are very nice, but they also cost a lot more than the AX. At least that’s what my Dell guy told me ;)
Kristoffer Sorry did I say nexsan? I meant EqualLogic of course :)
DELL-ToddM I'm actually still kinda new at this whole iSCSI thing
DELL-ToddM I've been working with Fibre channel for about seven years with the Dell | Emc (Clariion) arrays
DELL-ToddM I must admit that iSCSI is a lot easier to set up and manage from what I have seen so far
dell-marcf2 left.
DELL-ToddM We are nearing the end of the hour. Any other topics/questions that we should address?
DELL-ToddM Next week's chat will be on Blades Management. Scott, do you want to quickly intro?
DELL-ScottH Sure, thanks, Todd
DELL-ScottH Next week starts a three-week agenda around blade management. We'll kick it off with a chat session, but have many more pages developed around how to manage your blade infrastructure. Bookmark this page www.delltechcenter.com/page/06-10-08+managing+blades+web+chat. and see you on the chat next week
DELL-ToddM Kristoffer, do you have an ID on Dell TechCenter? I would like to see about sending you a TechCenter shirt
DELL-ScottH And fill out your profile when you get that home page set up. If you lurk and contribute, more chances someone will come across it—free advertising :-)
DELL-ToddM Thanks to all for attending this week’s TechTuesday chat. See you next week