IBM BladeCenter H with Cisco VFrame Software A Comparison with HP Virtual Connect

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1 IBM BladeCenter H with Cisco VFrame Software A Comparison with HP Connect

2 Executive Overview This white paper describes how Cisco VFrame Server Fabric ization Software works with IBM BladeCenter H to provide scalable, policy-based server provisioning and helps to increase automation and flexibility in the data center. It compares the IBM and Cisco Systems solution to the HP Connect product. Cisco VFrame software offers fabric-based server I/O virtualization that automates blade server deployment, provisioning and dynamic balancing of blade server capacity across multiple applications. Offered in a redundant, appliance-hosting model, Cisco VFrame software provides high levels of scalability, performance and I/O virtualization. Specific to I/O virtualization, Cisco VFrame software is fully integrated with the Cisco Systems 4X InfiniBand Switch Module, which offers true 10Gbps switching from every server blade to a Cisco SFS 3012 Multifabric Server Switch. The Cisco SFS 3012 enables Ethernet and Fibre Channel connectivity from the InfiniBand switch within the IBM BladeCenter H to storage and client/server communication resources. This connectivity includes support for IP and SCSI communications, as well as best-in-class, high-speed InfiniBand communications between the server blades. The Cisco SFS 3012 acts as the virtual I/O communications device and uses the wire-rate performance of InfiniBand between the server blades. By comparison, HP Connect offers a basic virtualization solution that is primarily targeted at data center administrators who want the ability to hot swap failed server cards without having to change network or storage area network (SAN) identities. This HP solution is limited to the newer generation of blade servers only, and lacks functionality in the areas of scalability and policy-based resource allocation of server and I/O capacity. HP Connect Overview In June 2006, HP announced a new line of blade servers, as well as a mechanism to enable a blade server s identity to be maintained to simplify blade replacements. These products are called HP BladeSystem c-class and HP Connect, respectively. Since this announcement, many customers have been asking about the differences between HP Connect and the Cisco VFrame and IBM BladeCenter H virtualization solution. The following provides a comparison. According to the data sheet information HP has provided on Connect, HP is offering an automated way in which server blades can be added, moved or removed from a blade chassis, without requiring any real-time configuration changes to the Ethernet and SAN storage. This is accomplished by remapping the Media Access Control (MAC) address and the host bus adaptor (HBA) World Wide Node Name (WWNN) of the blade at the exit point of the blade chassis and providing a virtual MAC and a virtual WWNN to the rest of the Ethernet and storage fabric. This identity remapping within HP Connect software eliminates the need to reconfigure Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), virtual LANs, SAN zoning or logical unit number (LUN) masking when a blade is swapped. HP s terminology for this is server edge virtualization. HP Connect s virtual naming pool mapping is configured with a fixed set of relationships where each slot within the HP BladeSystem c- Class chassis is mapped to a particular virtual MAC or WWNN (Figure 1). Using this relatively simply mechanism, even after a blade is replaced, the identity of the server its MAC and WWNN is maintained and appears to be the same as the original blade server to other resources within the network. 1.

3 Chassis 1 Connect Blade 1 Physical MAC 1 Physical WWNN 1 MAC 1 WWNN 1 Blade 2 Chassis 1 Spare blade X replaced blade 1 Physical MAC 2 Physical WWNN 2 Blade 1 failed and is replaced with spare Physical MAC x Physical WWNN x Connect MAC 2 WWNN 2 MAC 1 WWNN 1 Same identity presented to the external networks Blade 2 Physical MAC 2 Physical WWNN 2 MAC 2 WWNN 2 Figure 1. HP Connect This approach is based upon a centralized storage model, specifically SANs, in which the boot and data LUNs are located on the SAN, and there are no local disks within the HP BladeSystem. This Connect offering from HP simplifies the operation of hot swapping server cards when there is a failure, or adding more server cards when additional server capacity is required. Up to four interconnected BladeSystems are supported in a single virtual connect domain, which nets to a total of 64 blade servers (16 server blades per chassis). Based upon the predefined configuration of a set of virtual MAC and WWNN address pools to application (storage LUNs) groups, HP is delivering on one of the core promises of blade switches, in which server cards can be interchangeably swapped without any re-provisioning of the added, moved or replaced card. By contrast, Cisco VFrame technology uses a fabric-based approach to identity virtualization rather than relying upon individual server capabilities. As a result, it offers an expanded feature set when compared to HP Connect. The IBM BladeCenter H and Cisco VFrame solution leverages InfiniBand multifabric I/O to deliver IP and storage access over a single interface (Figure 2). This disaggregation of the server or blade chassis from the network interfaces delivers significant advantages in the areas of scaling, breadth of server support, capacity on demand, automation and manageability. 2.

4 I/O interfaces that can be defined on demand Physical blade in IBM BladeCenter H IP interface IP interface storage interface storage interface storage interface Single I/O pipe at 10Gbps that carries IP and storage traffic Figure 2. Server I/O with Cisco InfiniBand-based solution Technology Comparison: HP Connect and Cisco VFrame Architecturally, HP Connect and the Cisco VFrame software with IBM BladeCenter H solution have some similarities in that both solutions are designed to deliver diskless server operation where the blade servers boot from the SAN. The IBM BladeCenter and Cisco VFrame solution consists of InfiniBand host channel adapters (HCAs) that are connected to the BladeCenter I/O bus. These HCAs (Figure 4) are connected to a pair of Cisco InfiniBand switching modules within the IBM BladeCenter H chassis. The switching modules (Figure 4) support InfiniBand 12X and 4X uplinks that be connected to a Cisco SFS 7000 Series InfiniBand Server Switch, or connected to a Cisco SFS 3012 Multifabric Server Switch that provides connectivity to Ethernet and Fibre Channel environments as shown in Figure 3. IBM BladeCenter H Blade 1 Blade 2 Blade 3 (2) 4X and (2) 12X InfiniBand Cisco VFrame controller Ethernet-to- InfiniBand gateway for LAN access Ethernet network Blade 14 (2) 4X and (2) 12X InfiniBand IBM BladeCenter InfiniBand Cisco SFS-3012 Multilayer Fibre Channel-to- InfiniBand gateway for storage access Figure 3. IBM BladeCenter with Cisco VFrame Software in a data center 3.

5 I/O Capability The individual blades in the IBM BladeCenter are connected through the Cisco Systems 4X InfiniBand HCA that provides 10Gbps of bandwidth per server. Each blade server is capable of being dual connected with two HCAs, thereby delivering a high level of I/O redundancy. The Cisco Systems 4X InfiniBand Switch Module for IBM BladeCenter H provides a non-blocking switch fabric for all blade servers within the IBM BladeCenter H chassis. There are a total of two InfiniBand 4X (10Gbps) and two InfiniBand 12X (30Gbps) ports available for external connectivity that provides up to 80Gbps bandwidth per BladeCenter H chassis. Figure 4. Cisco Systems 4X InfiniBand Switch Module and HCA for IBM BladeCenter H The HP c-class BladeSystem with Connect offers traditional I/O bandwidth capacity of 2 x 1Gbps Ethernet and 2 x 4Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity. Scalability The scaling capacity of a single I/O cluster is up to 256 IBM BladeCenter servers. At 14 servers per BladeCenter, this enables 18 BladeCenter chassis to be connected in a single virtualized I/O pool. HP Connect provides virtualization capability for up to 64 servers. Each pool of 64 servers needs to have its own unique pool of virtual addresses that are independently managed with respect to other virtual connect domains (Figure 5). Rack 1 Rack 2 Rack 3 Blade Chassis 1-1 Blade Chassis 2-1 Blade Chassis 3-1 Blade Chassis 1-2 Blade Chassis 2-2 Blade Chassis 3-2 Blade Chassis 1-3 Blade Chassis 2-3 Blade Chassis 3-3 Blade Chassis 1-4 Blade Chassis 2-4 Blade Chassis 3-4 MAC Pool 1 WWNN Pool 1 X MAC Pool 2 WWNN Pool 2 X MAC Pool 3 WWNN Pool 3 Figure 5. HP Connect in a multi-chassis scenario 4.

6 Server I/O ization Cisco VFrame software with IBM BladeCenter H offers the capability of managing all server I/O centrally. The administrator can allocate the available bandwidth into data I/O (IP) and storage I/O (Fibre Channel). To simplify SAN management, blade server SAN identities (WWNs) are centrally managed across all BladeCenter chassis. This simplifies deployment and enables real-time adjustment of I/O capacity without having to physically change interfaces on the server blade. The server identity in the HP Connect solution can be managed up to clusters of four blade chassis only. Server I/O capacity cannot be dynamically managed. The only way to change I/O bandwidth characteristics is to physically change interfaces on the blade server, which is not a practical solution in a production data center. Unified I/O One particular problem within data centers is the proliferation of cables due to servers with multiple data and storage cables. The Cisco VFrame software in conjunction with Cisco SFS InfiniBand switches allow administrators to simplify their cabling requirements significantly by consolidating data and storage access over a single interface. This complements the IBM BladeCenter H server consolidation into a single managed chassis by delivering server I/O consolidation and simplification of network infrastructure. Within the HP Connect blade servers, the server I/O is still managed separately for Ethernet and Fibre Channel with individual cabling to the Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches respectively. Automated Failover Cisco VFrame software is fully policy-based. Server and networking resources can be dynamically reallocated based upon user-defined policies with respect to high availability, power and cooling and compute resource usage. If a server fails, or a policy threshold is exceeded, Cisco VFrame software can automatically select a spare server from a pool of resources, remap its identity and reboot the spare server to take on the identity of the original failed server. While HP Connect offers physical-to-virtual-address mappings, it basically provides slot-level remapping capability where one blade can be replaced with another in the event of failure. The actual detection and physical replacement are manual or external processes that require time and effort. With HP Connect, this virtual naming pool mapping is preconfigured with a fixed set of relationships. Each virtual MAC or WWN is hardwired to a particular slot on the blade chassis. If these fixed relationships need to be altered for example, moving one server blade to another virtual connect domain a SAN administrator is required. By contrast, Cisco VFrame software can dynamically reallocate servers to a different pool based upon a set of policies by dynamically changing the physical-to-virtual-address relationships. Although HP Connect offers an easy way in which to swap server blades or add more hardware to a server or application group, it does not reallocate resources across application groups based upon capacity or high-availability rules. Ease of Administration Cisco VFrame software dynamically associates physical addresses to virtual addresses based upon easy-to-use configuration templates. It places no restrictions on the applicability of these virtual settings across all 256 servers within a managed Cisco 5.

7 VFrame domain. Because the virtual addresses are in the fabric, they are applicable to all devices connected to the fabric and can be managed as a single pool. While offering analogous functionality, HP Connect limits these virtual address maps to four physical HP BladeSystems ( Connect domains). If customers want to move server blades beyond these pre-provisioned domains, they must reconfigure these mappings, thereby requiring storage and network involvement that may incur additional time delays in provisioning the system. Open APIs Cisco VFrame software is a middleware provisioning solution within the data center that supports open APIs for exporting information out of the database, sending changeprovisioning information for example, informing the management system that a server was rebooted and importing policy data that Cisco VFrame software may not be specifically collecting (power, cooling capacity data, etc.). These APIs are XML- and SOAP-based and offer an open platform for integrating with other management systems within the data center. HP Connect is not offering any APIs at this time. Summary HP Connect offers a mechanism to simplify blade server replacements specifically on HP BladeSystems without involving network and SAN administrators. The Cisco VFrame and IBM BladeCenter H solution delivers on demand computing by providing a scalable solution for data center automation that includes server identity virtualization. I/O flexibility Cisco VFrame software and InfiniBand switching with IBM BladeCenter delivers capabilities and flexibility superior in many respects by enabling policy-based server provisioning in heterogeneous server environments. It also provides the ability to automatically re-provision servers based on capacity policies between application groups. Cisco VFrame software with IBM BladeCenter H delivers on the promise of on demand computing whereby resources are provisioned and managed based upon predefined resource utilization policies. IBM BladeCenter with Cisco VFrame InfiniBand is a unified fabric with use of Ethernet or Fibre Channel gateways HP BladeSystem Connect Can either deploy Ethernet or Ethernet with Fibre Channel Standards based Proprietary, implemented for x86-based c-class Scalability Supports up to 512 servers Limited to 64 blade servers Openness Automated failover Open, works with BladeCenter, BladeCenter H or any rack servers Policy driven server and networking resources are dynamically reallocated HP c-class solution only None manual process of isolating and replacing failed blade Visualization Self discovery and drag-and-drop GUI Table driven Interconnect speed 10Gb InfiniBand 1Gb Ethernet, 4Gb Fibre Channel Availability Now Expect limited function 1Q07 Additional Information For more information on IBM BladeCenter, please visit ibm.com/systems/bladecenter. 6.

8 IBM Corporation 2007 IBM Systems and Technology Group Dept. U2SA 3039 Cornwallis Road Research Triangle Park, NC Produced in the USA All rights reserved Warranty Information: 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, BladeCenter, ClusterProven and ServerProven are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. For a list of additional IBM trademarks, please see Cisco and Cisco Systems are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco Systems, Incorporated. InfiniBand is a trademark of the InfiniBand Trade Association. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. IBM reserves the right to change specifications or other product information without notice. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. IBM PROVIDES THIS PUBLICATION AS IS WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Some jurisdictions do not allow disclaimer of express or implied warranties in certain transactions; therefore, this statement may not apply to you. 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. 7.

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