Blade server market leaders IBM and Hewlett-Packard continue to battle feature for feature on new enhancements to their platforms. IBM on Monday introduced I/O virtualization capabilities that can enable businesses to manage up to 100 separate blade chassis from a single console.
IBM's BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager can reduce management complexity and operational cost by virtualizing the I/O switching process in a wide range of third-party Ethernet and Fibre Channel technologies, allowing IT managers to easily move workloads between as many as 1,400 blade servers in an environment, said Stuart McRae, business line manager for IBM BladeCenter.
"Open Fabric Manager works with a full range of switches, providing an openness that gives customers a flexibility benefit," McRae said. "They have the flexibility to choose the switching solution they want that can be optimized both in function and price for their specific server application."
A week ago, HP introduced its Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager, which also provides single-console management of up to 100 of HP's BladeSystem chassis. The HP chassis fit up to 16 servers each, to provide for total server management of up to 1,600 servers. The IBM BladeCenter chassis hold up to 14 blades, allowing its Open Fabric Manager to provide management of up to 1,400 servers.
Having control across a large deployment of blade chassis allows a business to implement greater control over the entire environment, and enables automated management of issues such as failover, McRae said.
For example, if Blade 1 on Chassis 1 should fail, the infrastructure can be set up to automatically move the workload to Blade 14 on Chassis 1, or even Blade 14 on Chassis 100, depending on available capacity, he said. The moves can also be made with Open Fabric Manager without the need to reconfigure MAC or worldwide name addresses.
The changes can made across a wide range of switches, including equipment from Blade Network Technologies, Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, NetXen and QLogic.
BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager will be available in mid-December and is priced at $1,499 per chassis. BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager Advanced Upgrade is priced at $1,999 per chassis. IBM is offering an early customer promotion in the United States that provides for discounts of $500 to $1,000 per chassis, McRae said.