what are differences among HP/IBM/Cisco servers

Posted on 2014-09-07
Last Modified: 2014-10-11
My office is considering to implement our server infrastructure but I am not quite sure each product feature, so could you let me know the differences among HP BladeSystem, IBM BladeCenter, Cisco UCS. from cost, security, stability, operator friendly point of view.
Question by:shouichi
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    Expert Comment

    Be aware, the transitioning IBM x86 to Lenovo
    "Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Armonk, New York      - 23 Jan 2014: Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) and IBM (NYSE: IBM)  have entered into a definitive agreement in which Lenovo plans to acquire IBM’s x86 server business. This includes System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations. The purchase price is approximately US$2.3 billion, approximately two billion of which will be paid in cash and the balance in Lenovo stock."

    I am more worried about the IBM Blade support. Can't complain about the current support we have especially for hardware. I wonder what would be Lenovo plan.

    I have never looked into HP or Dell blades. I know for sure they all perform more or less the same. It is the HW reliability and other features (e.g. ease of use, support) that really distinguishes the products. Since IBM renamed their products recently, I have no idea what the new Pure Flex blades are. You also might want to keep the "Lenovo" angle in play.
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    by:John Hurst
    I find Lenovo products that came from IBM (servers, desktops and laptops) to be still very good. As an anecdote, the Bluetooth daughter card in my Lenovo ThinkPad X230 failed earlier this year. IBM had a replacement part to my doorstep in under 3 hours.

    Purchase a Lenovo Server from a reputable dealer and get the appropriate maintenance package to go with it (added expense unfortunately).

    My clients have predominantly IBM / Lenovo Servers and we have no problems with service or support. I have one HP Storage Server at one client. It works well and I have no issue with that. HP were somewhat more difficult than our IBM partner to get maintenance extensions but they did do it properly in the end. That may have been a "one - of" incident. I am happy with both manufacturers.
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    by:Casey Weaver
    I have not had good luck with configuring noneconomy Lenovo servers. They seem to lack some mainboard features compared to other companies.  HP reliability has been great but they lack a transition to UEFI, which has made implementation of some cutting edge technologies extremely difficult. Overall I've enjoyed working with Dell the most. Their servers are easy to configure the way I need them, from economy to high performance. Their gold and platinum support is second to none in helpfulness (Dell's vmware support team fixed a problem before VMWare could figure it out!), and their tco is one of the best in the industry. I have no issues with my two personal Dell blade and chassis.
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    Not sure about IBM/Lenovo byt the main difference between HP and Cisco is the infrastructure around them, HP offer their own Virtual connect, Cisco switches or BNT switches to pit in the enclosure I/O slots, Cisco offer just one make as far as I know. Do you want fibre channel for the SAN?
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    I believe you have gone through the initial rack vs. blade decision, and pondered all the pro's and con's thoroughly... Having decided for blade - effectively committing yourself to a single supplier - it is important to choose very carefully, and here one really important topic is the roadmap. I don't know what is the influence of Lenovo's purchase of the IBM server business will have in terms of roadmap - you should look into it.

    At my current employer we're an IBM shop in my region, and an HP shop globally. Can't say much about Dell or Cisco apart from my previous experience as a consultant, and 2nd hand opinion from my former colleagues. We never considered Dell/Fujitsu/Cisco blades because they simply didn't offer the level of features and options we need.

    My experience with IBM is that you cannot seriously compare IBM Bladeserver with any other blade system (HP, Dell, Fujitsu, Cisco, whatever..). IBM Bladeservers are extremely compact, redundant everything designs. They are built as a more dense version of traditional rack servers: increased density per rack, lower power consumption, reduced TCO, high flexibility, hardware continuity (almost all blades run on almost all chassis ever manufactured, with very little exceptions), and simplified management. You can trust any business critical system to Bladecenter, be it physical or virtual. They succeed exceptionally at any purpose. Documentation, support and service is excellent.

    IBM Flex is newer than Blade System, and is more similar to other manufacturers' blades. It is less of a "redundant everything" solution, and focuses more on density than bullet proof reliability. This means that they have single points of failure here and there, as they are designed for carrying virtualized loads or clustered systems that will have other types of redundancy built in (not relying so much on hardware redundancy).

    HP blades are newer that IBM blades, and older than IBM Flex. HP has changed formats from generation to generation, making it impossible to use older blades in newer chassis. This is not good in terms of investment continuity, but thankfully they seem to be sticking with the current format. The main difference between HP Blade and IBM Blade (apart from having more SPOFs) may be in the way that management tools are built into HP Blades. IBM has a single management console per chassis (that is chained with other chassis if you want); HP has an iLO per server, that you have to "bundle together" to get a consolidated view of what's going on in the chassis. Not so friendly...

    I have never worked with Dell or Cisco blades, so from my experience and personal knowledge I can only second what andyalder and Casey already said:
    - Cisco is Cisco all the way, from blades to switches - HP and IBM offer some choice in terms of switching, etc.
    - Dell support is stellar - in response time, ability to deliver, etc. Second place would be IBM (depending on the country you're in), then HP. I have no experience with Cisco...

    Designing a blade solution can be a nightmare due to incompatibilities between cards/blades/storage/networking. I have found IBM Bladecenter H extremely flexible for a blade solution, and even when considering the move over to rack or Flex, we stayed on Bladecenter E/H platforms. I sincerely do not know where IBM/Lenovo is heading with this format, as it seems that Flex is both newer and a preferred platform for high density projects. We just did what is probably our last investment in Bladeserver, most likely we'll move back to rack servers now that our infrastructure is 99% virtualized.

    If you're set on to blades, and you're carrying workloads that are not backed up by server clustering or virtualization to insure continuity (e.g. standalone physical servers), I'd go for IBM Bladeserver. Any other case, check their roadmaps, and define your requirements before starting to compare features. Only then you can measure how they stack up against each other.
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    Expert Comment

    Each HP blade may have an iLO in it but you can launch them all off the same Onboard Administrator web GUI so it's not that much of a bind. Chaining OAs together can be a pain though since there's a timing issue and they complain about topology change now and then, still it's only a management LAN so doesn't affect production. One caution about HP in general, they're restricting access to BIOS downloads so grab all you can while your kit is still in warranty.

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