I have written a couple of articles about the HP c3000 Blade Enclosure in this blog which should give you an overview of the basic infrastructure, but what about the blade servers themselves? HP have a wide range of Blades that can be slotted into the c3000 or C7000 enclosures. The BL460c is a great mid-range blade that is in my opinion one of the best options in the range.
The BL460c is the blade equivalent of the DL380 rack mount server and is a good choice if comparing blade vs rack mount server offerings from HP. If storage is required then it is important to factor either a direct attached storage option or SAN when doing the comparision.
- CPU – single or dual Intel Xeon dual or quad core CPU’s.
- RAM – up to 64GB in 8 DIMM slots
- 2 x Small Form Factor hot swap SAS or SATA drives
- 2 x mezzanine expansion slots
- 2 x 1Gbit Ethernet adapters with TOE and iSCSI support
- 1 x iLO remote management port
- occupies a single blade slot
- Supports Windows, RHEL, SuSE, Netware, Solaris, VMWare and HP Citrix Essentials for XenServer
Performance and scalability
The BL460c offers impressive scalability thanks to a large number of CPU options and an impressive RAM limit of 64GB. Mezzanine card options include single and dual headed NIC’s, 10Gbit Ethernet and Fibre Channel adapters. An SB40 direct attached storage blade can be installed to provide a further 6 small form factor SATA or SAS drives.
The BL460c features an internal USB2 port which can be used to boot VMware ESXi from a USB key (download your own or purchase a key from HP) allowing the BL460c to run virtual machines in diskless configuration by using a SAN for the disk images. The BL460c is also certified to run Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix Zenserver.
Microsoft Storage Server
HP sell a Blade Storage Solution which bundles a BL460c with an SB600c storage blade and Microsoft Storage Server 2003. This solutions occupies 2 blade slots and provides up to 1.5TB of storage accessible via iSCSI.
I have installed and managed many HP blade servers over the past few years. The BL460c is a great performer whether it is running Essential Business Server 2008, ESXi or Windows 2003 Enterprise connected to EVA SAN via Fibre Channel. It is a significant improvement on the previous generation HP Blades and I think it will remain a good work horse well into the future.
If you prefer AMD over Intel, then the BL465c is well worth a look. It is a very similar server but built around AMD technology. Lower end BL260c blades don’t support hot swap drives or the internal USB port and has a standard 1 year warranty vs the 3 year warranty that is included with the BL460c. Higher end blades are available from HP, but for most the BL460c will be offer more than enough features at a price point similar to the DL380 rack mount server.