A comparison of Blade management tools for Cisco vs HP

This is a conversation that gets asked a lot when discussing the platforms with customers. Can you explain to my why Cisco UCS is easier to manage and what tools do I need to use on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The answer is really easy with Cisco UCS, you just need to use UCS manager. For HP the conversation becomes more splintered, sure you can do pretty much anything on HP blades that you can do on UCS. But how many tools or management points do you have to touch to accomplish these same things. Below I have attempted to list common tasks that you would need to do for setup and on going management of a blade enclosure and blades within.

Cisco UCS Manager – Does all the following in one tool

  • Blade Chassis mgmt
  • CIMC console connections
  • Hardware Monitoring
  • Firmware updates – chassis, FEX modules, blades and adapters
  • QOS
  • Network Mgmt
  • Service profiles for blade identities
  • SAN connection setup

Roll Based Access Controls – Can assign ID’s access to all or just allow server, network or SAN access

HP Blades – using Virtual Connect modules of any flavor

  • Blade Chassis mgmt. – Onboard Administrators (OA)
  • iLO console connections – OA
  • Hardware Monitoring – HP SIM
  • Firmware updates – HP SIM, FDT or currently used tool
  • Network Mgmt – Virtual Connect Manager (VCM)
  • Server profiles – Virtual Connect Manager (VCM)
  • SAN connection setup – Virtual Connect Manager
  • Roll Based Access Controls (RBAC) – need to configure logins per Tool

If you elected to use the new Cisco FEX modules for HP Blade chassis then the following would be affected.

  • Network Mgmt / profiles – no profiles, would use physical address from Blades. Port configs done at 5K level. Blades auto map to ports on FEX similar to pass through connections.
  • SAN connection setup – Would be done vid FCoE through the 5K switches
  • Network QOS – Done on 5K switches and tagged if possible in Operating Systems (ESXi 5 does support 802.1p)

If you have anything that I left off of this list drop me a note in the comments and I will update to keep accurate.

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Why does it take HP so long to integrate their products

I was talking with a fellow VMware nerd today about cloud and infrastructure gear. And I can’t help but wonder why it takes HP so long to execute on integrating their products, mostly around the support tools. Look HP owns a complete stack now, network, compute, storage and software. Along with their suites of tools that you need to use to manage all these devices independently. To me this is their biggest failure and does not appear to be getting fixed anytime soon.

This is a big bonus of working Cisco UCS because there is just one place that I need to go to configure, manage, patch a blade environment. With HP I might have to use the Onboard Administrators, Virtual Connect manager and HP SIM. This seems like such a no brainer that HP could have fixed years ago, because the HP Blade systems have been around for years.

So if HP wants to rule the market in the Cloud era they need to reduce their tools into less management points. I should be able to do everything in one console for compute and if they could roll in storage to this also would be a huge win. And if they are properly motivated they can. Now a unified tool for automation of hardware that could reach into VMware with API’s would be the next big win. I know they are working on some of this but last that I saw it still sounded like there would be too many moving pieces.

So HP I challenge you to solve this issue with your massive amount of Talent, code and other resources. You need to become innovate again and make products that people want to own and desire for other reasons than you have a large install base and are cheaper.

If you want some examples you can read my post about the comparison of what tools it takes to manage HP vs Cisco blades chassis here.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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HP updates CIM drives with more visability

Since vSphere 4 came along VMware has been working with CIM (Computer Information Model) drivers to try and present up details about the underling hardware that vSphere is running  on. Initially this was things like health of CPU, Memory and errors like a failed fan and such. But something that I always thought was missing is visibility into  locally configured RAID volumes.

For example if you are running ESX(i) on a mirrored pair of local drives, if you are a shop that does not have very good hardware monitoring you might have no idea of the health of this mirror that vSphere is running on. So this becomes even more important with more shops experimenting with running certain workloads on local disk. With VMware and storage companies creating Virtual Storage Appliances that can run on these local disks and still provide the benefits of shared storage, this becomes a must to understand what is happening in your local disks environment.

With the latest batch of CIM drivers from HP they are now exposing some of these details. You can now see the drive configurations and status. The image below shows that a drive is rebuilding in the RAID config. This should be a feature that many HP shops will be happy to see. If you have noticed any other good features from this update leave a note in the comments for others.

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About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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How to reset blade slot in HP C7000 chassis

This issue has not come up very often but with more admins working remotely these days and not being able to touch the hardware. This can be a life saver if no one is at the site or the process is slow. What I needed to do was reset the server in a particular slot and the reset option from the Onboard Administrator console was not getting the job done. So someone informed me of the following option. I need to do this for two different reasons that I can think of. First was due to a firmware issue that was making the blade power off a few seconds after turning it on and the second reason was due to an issue with the blades iLO card.

What the following command does is completely power off the blade slot and back on. This is the same thing as removing the blade from chassis and reseating it.

What you can do is to SSH into the chassis via the OA address that you would normally HTTP into.

The issue the following command to reset the specific blade. Just insert the bay number of the blade that is giving you the trouble.

reset server <bay #>

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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How to configure EMC PowerPath to work with HP EVA storage arrays

On one of the projects that I have been working on lately we have been replacing all of the existing EMC storage with HP Storage. I’m not going to go into which one I think is better or worse. I am just going to cover how PowerPath is able to work with other storage arrays also. So in my search to determine if I would be able to continue to use the existing PowerPath licenses that exist at the client or if they would need to use the base MPIO software that HP provides. To those that have used PowerPath in the past you would probably agree that it is a great MPIO application and has a lot of other features available also.

For system admins it can make things like monitoring the health of your SAN connections and identifying which LUN correlates to the disk that you need expanded so much easier. So for these reasons it would be best for them to continue to use PowerPath. I searched the web for feedback to see what others have been doing and was surprised to see nothing. There was really no feedback out there. I did find some details about using PowerPath/VE with HP arrays but this version is for Hypervisors not Windows servers.

So after some further digging I was able to determine that I could use PowerPath version 5.5 with Windows servers to manage MPIO with HP Storage arrays. It will work with both EVA and XP class storage from HP. There are 32 bit and 64 bit versions available and I was able to test on both Windows Server 2003 and 2008 so far.

The install of PowerPath is pretty straight forward, the only thing that you must do special is to select the custom install option. You can see from the image below that you will have a few options to choose from for 3rd party Array support. I selected both the HP XP and Hitachi support since they will be using both EVA and HP XP’s which are made by Hitachi in the environment. After a reboot and a quick vDisk assignment on the EVA the storage was showing up properly in Windows.

The only part that was left was to get used to how the storage details would be showing up in PowerPath. Now when your using EMC storage the LUN ID with show up in the LUN column and is nice and clear. But when using it with the HP EVA the only way to match up the windows disk to the vDisk on the EVA was to use the Device details listed for the disk within PowerPath. I took a snapshot of the screen below.

You then need to match up the Device details that you found in PowerPath with the vDisk on the EVA that you can see by using the Command View EVA console. You can see that the WW LUN Name for the vDisk matches up with the Device column inside of PowerPath and this will help you match up your vDisks with the Windows disks. This makes disk expansions and assigning disks with different Raid levels to the proper drive letter in Windows much easier.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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