What is most valuable?
For us, the best feature of the BladeSystems is the plug-and-play capability. We are able to replace one quickly; everything's hot-pluggable. The enclosures are well made. The way we manage our enclosures, everything's done through one iLO. It's really easy to keep on top of things. They are what they are. They do the job they're designed to do.
How has it helped my organization?
When we initially went with blade servers, our footprint in the datacentre went down. We still have to use large ProLiant servers. We mainly use it in a Citrix environment, so we use each blade as a Xen host. Although we might have about 400 blades, we've then got four VMs running off that, whereas in the past, we would have had thousands of servers all stacked up on top of each other.
What needs improvement?
We have a niggle with the iLO connection. Sometimes you can go from one PC to another and how the iLO reacts depends on the web browser setup. I'd like to see something like HTML5 setup for iLO, so you don't need to install any Java or any of the plug-ins; so it's completely universal.
It’s a great system, but it’s not perfect yet.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've had blade servers for about 10 years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We don't have any real issues with stability.
How is customer service and technical support?
We have a HPE support contract. If anything does go wrong, it's just, swap it out, put it back in. I'll be careful what I mention, but sometimes the technical support online isn't great. You're often dealing with people who just ask you basic questions and ask you to check things that you've already checked. You know the fault's there; you wouldn't be logging the call if the fault wasn't there. But the engineers that come on-site are great.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Initially, we were using Compaq equipment. Then Compaq and HP merged. We did do trials with IBM, but we found it to be a bit of a step back in that the kit just wasn't quite as high tech. It just seemed at the time it was a massive step back in the way we were working. HP seemed like it was a step ahead.
What other advice do I have?
My advice is to invest early dollars on higher capacity. In the early stages, we didn't put enough high power kit in and we ended up upgrading all the time, especially on the memory side. I think we went in quite low with RAM and we went through a massive process of upgrading all that.