Product of the Day: Egenera BladeFrame

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Product: BladeFrameManufacturer: Egenera, Inc.Address: 165 Forest Street                 Marlboro, Massachusetts 01752Telephone: 1-508-858-2600URL: www.egenera.com

Egenera solves the multiple pain points of enterprise-class data centers by delivering the next generation of computing infrastructure. The Egenera BladeFrame, with its Processing Area Network (PAN) architecture, combines the price/performance and scalability of commodity servers with mainframe-like manageability to lower total cost of ownership and accommodate change in today's demanding IT environments. The system is designed to help large enterprises and service providers reduce application time-to-market, keep applications online and improve data center management.

It's simple. The future of enterprise computing is here-the Egenera BladeFrame.

Hardware

The BladeFrame creates a pool of up to 96 high-end Intel® processors deployable entirely through software and without physical intervention. The product consists of a 24x30x84-inch chassis containing 24 two-way and/or four-way SMP processing resources (Egenera Processing Blade), redundant central controllers (Egenera Control Blade), redundant integrated switches (Egenera Switch Blade), redundant high-speed interconnects (Egenera BladePlane) and Egenera PAN Manager software. As few as four cables are required to connect the entire system redundantly to storage and the IP network.

The BladeFrame was engineered to complement Storage Area Network (SAN) technology, which is fast becoming a data center mainstay. Thus, the diskless Processing Blades, which function just like conventional servers once configured, contain only processors and memory and require no external connections. Instead, all Ethernet and disk I/O is routed via the BladePlane through the Control Blades, which interface to the IP network and external storage. The Processing Blades communicate among themselves and with the Control Blades at speeds faster than Gigabit Ethernet via integrated connections to the Switch Blades.

Software

The BladeFrame system is configured and managed through Egenera PAN Manager software, which provides a single control point for allocating and monitoring both physical and logical resources. For example, customers create pServers, Egenera's equivalent of a conventional server, by associating individual Processing Blades with IP network and storage capacity. Likewise, users can establish multiple Logical PANs (LPAN) on a single BladeFrame to allocate physically distinct, secure resources to enterprise divisions or individual customers. Configuration of the high availability and load balancing clusters inherent to the Egenera architecture is also achieved through PAN Manager software. In addition, a user can establish a pool of spare Processing Blades shared by the LPANs to provide incremental capacity and/or automatic failover.

PAN Manager software features both a Command Line Interface (CLI) and a browser-based GUI; roles-based privileges; and remote, lights-out access to permit dynamic reconfiguration, expansion and upgrades. Moreover, out-of-the-box integration with leading enterprise management consoles is provided, allowing customers to leverage BladeFrame resources from within an existing data center infrastructure.

The BladeFrame operating system, Red Hat Linux, has been optimized to enable the Processing Area Network architecture. Fully Intel x86 compatible, the OS features built-in high availability with an active/active architecture as well as world-class TCP performance. Red Hat has officially certified the Egenera system, ensuring customers that all Red Hat-compatible software, including vertical applications; messaging middleware; and popular database, Web and application servers, run out-of-the-box on the BladeFrame.

Service

Recognizing that the BladeFrame is deployed in mission-critical environments, Egenera designed the system for serviceability. Blade components are customer-replaceable, with no special training required. The system also features phone home functionality. Likewise, Egenera can remotely monitor performance on a 24x7 basis and proactively respond.

Egenera Processing Area Network (PAN) Architecture

By integrating processing, networking, management and high availability functionality currently dispersed across server hardware, operating systems and data networks, Egenera creates a new architecture, the Processing Area Network, which consolidates and simplifies the allocation and management of computing power. With the BladeFrame, processing capacity can be increased, decreased and reallocated completely through software, while the machine is running, to support new applications or accommodate variable demand on existing applications without purchasing, installing or managing incremental equipment.

Next-Generation Data Center Computing

By leading a fundamental shift in the nature of data center resources and how they are provisioned, allocated and managed, Egenera has become the first supplier to deliver the next generation of computing infrastructure.

Enterprise-class computing is rapidly evolving towards powerful, commodity-based platforms that combine resource virtualization with the management sophistication and flexibility of high-end Unix and mainframe systems. Customers have made it clear that computing systems must cost less to purchase and less to operate over time. They must be simpler and easier to manage. And they must be more flexible, so that resources can be allocated where they are needed when they are needed and utilized more effectively. Egenera's PAN architecture delivers this next generation of computing infrastructure, which is characterized by:

--Data center virtualizationThe PAN architecture combines processing and networking in a single chassis and replaces physical server components with virtual, software-based entities to virtualize data center infrastructure. Specifically, the BladeFrame consolidates processors and memory while virtualizing IP and storage networking, clustering, load balancing, hardware failover and secure partitioning all under the control of integrated management software.

--Disaggregation of computing resourcesThe BladeFrame completely decouples processing from storage to create anonymous computing resources. Egenera Processing Blade modules contain only processors and memory. Instead, disk resources are accessed from a Storage Area Network (SAN) or Network Attached Storage (NAS). Likewise, the boot drive function is consolidated on the BladeFrame's Control Blade modules, which boot and manage Processing Blades entirely through software. This decoupled architecture enables Egenera customers to maximize the value of their SAN investments. Moreover, as the only hardware supplier to have launched a commercially viable fabric of diskless Intel processors, Egenera delivers true server virtualization.

--Dynamic repurposing of computing resourcesWith no local disk, Processing Blades have no permanent identity. Thus, any Processing Blade can be dynamically allocated or reallocated to any application in minutes. The BladeFrame can even be programmed to automatically repurpose nodes and shift computing power on-the-fly based on resource utilization and/or workload requirements. Through software, Processing Blades can be added to or removed from any cluster, and attached to or disconnected from any storage volume.

--Built-in, automatic high availabilityThe anonymous nature of Processing Blades enables hardware-based, N+1 high availability: Up to 23 heterogeneous applications can share a single Processing Blade as a failover resource. In addition, all BladeFrame physical and virtual components are fully redundant with no single point of failure.

--Automated, lights-out managementOnce the BladeFrame system is installed, no physical interaction is required. All processing, storage and networking configurations are established and easily re-established via Egenera PAN Manager software. Integration with Turbolinuxâ PowerCockpit software extends this automation to the application layer, enabling an administrator to provision and manage a software stack image across hundreds of virtual servers simultaneously. Management functions can be performed remotely in a lights-out environment and may be centralized or decentralized based on customer preferences.

--Commodity components and industry standardsNext-generation computing provides a price/performance advantage over proprietary Unix platforms by incorporating standard processors, operating systems and interconnects. The BladeFrame layers advanced management functionality on 24 Lintel-based, interconnected virtual servers. Likewise, Egenera is shipping the industry's first InfiniBand-like architecture well in advance of InfiniBand availability.

--Suitability for mission-critical applicationsBy following the high end of Intel's processor roadmap in both two-way and four-way SMP configurations, the BladeFrame is designed for core data center workloads such as databases, application servers, transaction processing and high performance computing. Built-in clustering and horizontal scalability, as well as server consolidation, are facilitated through an integrated switching backplane, the Egenera BladePlane, which internalizes networking.

--Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)The ability to dynamically repurpose virtualized, commodity-based processing, storage and networking resources entirely through software enables data centers to allocate computing power where it is needed, when it is needed. This modular computing model increases resource utilization and decreases system administration requirements to notably lower TCO.

email: potd@ssc.com

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