HPE BladeSystem Review

Ahead of other vendors. Minor improvements are needed for registration of licenses and access to updated drivers.


What is most valuable?

iLO (Remote Management) is probably the best in the market, their RAID Cards (SmartArray) are also very good.

How has it helped my organization?

  1. iLO even in its basic form can get you out of hot water as you can just do a remote power-cycle. iLO Advance can get you to remotely troubleshoot the OS even if its in a defunct state
  2. RAID I have found useful as its quite easy to remotely expand the array
  3. Upgrading of firmware is very easy as well, even in a VMWare vSphere (ESXi hypervisor)

What needs improvement?

I believe they are ahead of the other vendors (IBM, Dell and Cisco). Probably what they can improve on are minor things -

  1. Registration of licenses, this includes iLO advanced and upgraded support. This requires you to log on with HP and activate the key that has been given to the server. Its just a convoluted process that I rather as a technical engineer not have to do.
  2. Access to updated drivers and firmware. They now require you to logon and have the device serial number to get to drivers. Even new devices requires this. If the device is 3 years old OK, but new devices just frustrates the customer and slows down deployments.

For how long have I used the solution?

Full time the last five years but I have been around them for eight years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Generally no. We did have issues where a RAID card would not work with array build until we updated the firmware. Even after getting HP to replace the RAID card, the replacement card came with the same faulty firmware. This was for a bottom end server though. All the mid and high range servers have had no problems with deployments.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

If there is ever a problem with stability, generally firmware has fixed this, We've had a range of issues, probably the most common issue has been SAS cards and tape drives staying up (both in Windows and ESXi environments). We did have an issue where during a power outage, the BIOS lost the boot sequence on a sever that was using an SD Card as its boot device, a firmware update fixed that. Teamed NICS having dropouts also required updates.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No, these servers when specified can host incredible amounts of VM's. The CPU options and RAM expansions are very good.

How are customer service and technical support?

Excellent, they are happy to trust you in raising the issue and supply you with replacement hardware with minimal fuss. They are also helpful if you require technical assistance for configuration.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to use IBM. I wasn't part of the decision for the change but to be honest I'm glad we moved away from IBM. They had moved to LSI for RAID and their UEFI Bios meant every reboot took 10 minutes. Also their technical support was rapidly going downhill.

How was the initial setup?

Straightforward, 90% of all installation you can just refer to the server cover for RAM sequence, CPU installations or RAID expansion.

What about the implementation team?

We are a reseller.

What was our ROI?

Its hard to say but if you count the improvement of remote access (iLO) and ease of upgrading firmware means we don't have to organise serious downtimes when we had previously dealt with other vendors.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We previously used IBM Servers and we may revisit this if Lenovo fixes the issues with the IBM servers. We also haved used Cisco UCS servers where the deal suited. I still believe HP is still ahead of both Cisco and IBM.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are a HP partner
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