Our initial installation went smoothly. The front panel LED provides a lot of information about the chassis, and errors that the firmware picks up, like unplugged cables, and cooling problems. It's a fast way to get localized information on low-level problems, but it's not as sophisticated as even a dull smartphone as a user interface. The KVM jack supplied us with a web page, but not that much more control capability. Control comes from Virtual Connect Manager and/or OneView or Insight Manager.
We have nothing that can assault this chassis at full bore. It's in aggregate, an enormous block of computational and I/O capability. The sum of its parts when viewed discretely however, is powerful — blades whose other Gen8 cousins we've tested coupled to a huge L2/L3 switch backplane.
The BL-660 Gen8 blades digested our VMware licenses with glee. The speeds of digestion were comparable to the HP DL-580 Gen8 we recently tested. The flow of data through the blades with VMware's VNICs was easily controlled via defaults in OneView, then in VMware vCenter with ESXi 5.5. Where we once had difficulty with VMware drivers finding HP hardware correctly, we had no issues this round.
The C7000 Platinum Chassis, coupled to the HP-supplied BL660 Gen8 blades supplies huge computational density. The FlexFabric approach localizes all systems I/O to a mid-plane, then logically connects multiple blades and chassis together through the fabric.
This architecture replaces discrete or 1U servers, external switch and router cabinets, separate fabric to SAN data stores, and all of the logic needed to glue these pieces together.
Going the blade chassis router, one becomes entirely captive to HP in this infrastructure, but it's a flexible infrastructure, plays well with VMware and Hyper-V (and likely others). There are necessary options that aren't included in the price — the most glaring example is OneView, which costs $400 to $799 per server (as much as $50 per core).
A 256-core fully loaded chassis approaches $300,000 — just less than $300 per core — including all I/O fabric communications needed to connect to a communications demarc, and not counting OneView or other licenses — or hypervisors or operating systems.
How We Tested
We installed the C7000 chassis into our rack at Expedient-Indianapolis (formerly nFrame), then connected its power. After the lights dimmed and the grid twitched, we connected the FlexFabric connectors to our ExtremeNetworks Summit Switch core internal routers. The password to the C7000 chassis is hidden inside. We didn't know this. Remember to get this password because nothing really works until you do.
We bought up a VMware ".ova" appliance version of HP's OneView 1.1, and with help from HP, brought the chassis online, configured the chassis, and made it part of its own group; up to four chassis can be aggregated as a unit.
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