Broadberry Intel Modular Server review

Broadberry offers SMBs an affordable blade server with some unusual storage features and a sharp focus on virtualisation. In this exclusive review, Dave Mitchell takes a closer look at Intel’s Modular Server and tests its VM live migration feature.

The storage controller supports all key RAID arrays, including RAID-6, and Broadberry offers a choice of SATA, SAS, near-line SAS and SSD drives. Storage pools can contain multiple virtual drives and each is assigned to a module that sees it as local storage, so the modules themselves are completely diskless.

The storage arrangement provides good redundancy if a module fails, its virtual drive can be reassigned to a spare module and booted as usual.This arrangement provides good redundancy if a module fails, since its virtual drive can be reassigned to a spare module and booted as usual.

The storage management blade also has a SAS expansion port for adding external storage, but note that only 3Gbit/s speeds are currently supported. Assigning storage is straightforward, too a flowchart graphic shows the content of each storage pool and which compute modules the virtual drives are assigned to.

Broadberry Intel Modular Server

A graphic shows clearly how the internal SAN is arranged and which virtual drives are assigned to each compute module.

A management I/O module provides full remote access to the server chassis and its components. Switch options are basic, as the chassis only supports a maximum of two 10-port L2/L3 Ethernet switch blades. The compute modules do have a 10Gbit Ethernet internal connection to the network midplane, but a 10Gbit Ethernet external switch module isn't currently available.

Intel's Modular Server Control (MSC) browser interface offers good levels of access to all components. A dashboard shows the status of the chassis, compute modules, power supplies, drives and system health, while a row of tabs above provides views of the front and rear panels, along with installed components.

Broadberry Intel Modular Server

Intel's MSC provides good remote access to the server and plenty of operational information.

The BIOS and operating system of each computer module can also be viewed and controlled remotely via KVM over IP, and this allows modules to be switched on and off individually, too.

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