HP BladeSystem c3000 review: blade server

Built like a tank and not weighing much less, this floor-standing ‘data-centre in a box’ from HP comes on wheels, much to Dave Mitchell's relief.

At the rear you have four interconnect bays available and HP offers plenty of connection options as you can pick and choose from pass-through blades, Cisco copper and fibre Gigabit switch blades and Brocade and Cisco FC SAN switches. You'll need the virtual connect modules to takes advantage of the new 10GbE offering in the latest server blades and these can be used to assign MAC addresses from a virtual pool when new blades are installed.

The level of remote management offered by the c3000 is unbeatable. The chassis, blades and all interconnect modules can be accessed directly by the Onboard Administrator browser interface. This provides wizards to help with installation and an array of graphics showing the condition of all components. It provides a system status readout showing colour coded icons for errors and faults along with details on chassis power consumption and available power.

Pick any server blade and you can go directly to the browser interface provided by its embedded iLO2 chip. This provides full remote control over all system operations including power and also offers tools for monitoring the controller or server and viewing installed components.

For more in-depth management you can use HP's Insight Control Suite, which includes the Systems Insight Manager tools. These provide enhanced browser-based remote management and monitoring and can remotely access server blades with an Insight agent installed.

The only competition to Shorty' comes from IBM's BladeCenter S, which targets precisely the same market. At 7U high it claims a greater expansion potential and higher storage capacities, but it's incredibly noisy, so if you want this in your office you'll need IBM's massive office enablement kit.

We found the c3000 much friendlier during testing as even with all six fans installed it was surprisingly quiet. We also prefer its more compact dimensions and superior build quality plus HP's management facilities really are standard setters.

Verdict

HP’s blade servers have always impressed and the c3000 is no exception. Its heavy but compact chassis offers a remarkable expansion potential with a huge range of server and storage blades to choose from, whilst the extensive portfolio of interconnect modules covers virtually every angle. HP’s management tools are the ones to beat as well and make light work of installation and deployment.

Chassis: 6U enclosure with eight half-height/four full-height blade slots Power: 4 x 900W or 1200W hot-swap (max. 6) Fans: 4 x hot-swap (max. 6) Expansion: Four interconnect I/O module bays Management: HP Onboard Administrator, HP Insight Control suite

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