2012
09.14

I’ve been digging around looking for Cluster-in-a-Box (CiB) solutions.  I found concepts, but nothing that was actually for sale … until one of my colleagues sent me a link this morning.  Meet the Fujitsu CiB:

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When I first looked at the picture, I thought:

  1. That’s just a quarter height rack!
  2. That’s no CiB, it’s just DAS and some 2U servers!

I was wrong.  What you’re looking at is a blade chassis, turned on it’s end, and tidied up to make it into a self-contained appliance, fit for the small/medium business.  And looking at the stats, this could be a SMB 3.0 scale-out file server (SOFS) SAN alternative, but the included memory and processor make it a real Hyper-V CiB solution where the entire Hyper-V cluster is on those 4 wheels.

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  • There is 10 GbE networking for converged fabrics and fast throughput
  • The storage blade takes 10 * 900 GB SAS drives
  • There are 2 BX920 blade server nodes in the cluster, each with 2 * E5 Xeon CPUs, 48 GB RAM, dual 10 GbE, 2 * 300 GbE, and Windows Server 2012.

Interestingly, the BX920 S3 blade takes up to 384 GB of RAM.  If this is the same blade, then this could be quite a 2 node Hyper-V cluster!

Fujtisu says that this:

… complete Microsoft Hyper-V virtualized server environment …

… will require:

… a few minutes with our self adopted configuration wizard and you are ready-to-work.

Nice!  They say it is for mid-market (larger small businesses and smaller medium businesses that have or would like a Hyper-V cluster.

I like this package.  For the consulting companies in this space, this is a low risk solution for their customers, unlike the usual recipe of parts that must be purchased/assembled separately.  Instead, they order a single SKU, and rapidly configure it for the customer (on- or off-site), and then focus on the other value-adds.

One problem, though.  The RRP of the Fujitsu CiB excluding sales tax is:

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I can buy a lot of servers, lower end (more scalable) storage, and power it for a lot less than €59K ($76,866 or £47,452 using this morning’s rates) .  Seriously, that has to be a typo, because if it is not, then I expect that Fujitsu will sell very, very few CiB solutions, in what is a very big market.

Other solutions I have found, that aren’t available AFAIK, are:

  • Quanta MESOS CB220
  • Something LSI are allegedly pitching to OEMs
  • EDIT: Andreas Erson pointed out the HP X5000 G2 series that start at €30K for a LFF SATA storage model.  You will need 10 GbE to set up the networks for converged fabrics.

I’m not expecting bigger OEM names to jump into this space (try binging and googling to see the tumbleweeds roll through your search results) with solutions that are competitive in the SME space because CiB solutions have the potential to decimate traditional storage revenues; storage is very high margin for OEMs, unlike servers, because it is a lock-in solution – try adding an IBM disk tray to your EMC SAN.

5 comments so far

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  1. The price may be correct. Don’t forget, you get space and infrastructure (maybe redundant) for another 4 servers. You also have to pay for the switch ports and fibre cables for the cheaper servers.

    • That’s the usual pro-blade argument and it falls flat on its face when you do the sums. The price is way too high.

  2. Well, I’ve seen the announcements for HP VS 1 for Hyper-V (you get 2 10GB-Switches, a DL360G7 for management and two DL380G7 (96GB RAM per node) nodes and a P4500 2-node SAN (14.4TB, if net-mirrored there is something about 5TB left) in a HP rack – starting at 175’000$, so this one is cheap ;-)

  3. Enter the Fujitsu CX420, no way near as high end, fairly scalable though but more importantly affordable!

    http://www.fujitsu.com/fts/products/computing/servers/primergy/scale-out/cx420/

  4. prices for all Fujitsu CiaB have been reduced by 10% recently. that gives ~55k€ for the big “L” model reviewed here.
    keep in mind that the big “L” model has no single point of failure (all! data paths are dual active/active redundant), It can be expanded with 10 additional SAS disks and memory can be upgraded (within limits) too.
    and since the converged 10GbE network and windows datacenter licenses are included in the price, it is not cheap, but reasonable. you’d have a hard time building and designing one of these yourself – at lower cost.
    and I already had one of these to play with – startup takes about 35 minutes from box to production. as in: when you can begin to import workloads and data.

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