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BladeCenter Fundamentals
Study Guide
Release 3.00
July 2008
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International Business Machines Corporation, 2008 All rights reserved.
Worldwide xSeries Service and Support Education
IBM Systems, Department EYGA.
Building 205, Post Office Box 12195,
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709-2195
IBM reserves the right to change specifications or other product information without notice. This
publication could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. References herein to IBM
products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make themavailable in other countries. IBM
provides this publication as is, without warranty of any kind either expressed or impliedincluding
the implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Some jurisdictions do not
allow disclaimer of expressed or implied warranties. Therefore, this disclaimer may not apply to you.
Data on competitive products is obtained from publicly obtained information and is subject to change
without notice. Please contact the manufacturer for the most recent information.
The following terms are trademarks or registered trademarks of IBM Corporation in the United States,
other countries or both:
Active Memory, Active PCI, AT, BladeCenter, the e-business logo, EasyServ, Enterprise X-
Architecture, EtherJ et, HelpCenter, HelpWare, IBM RXE-100 Remote Expansion Enclosure, IBM
XA-32, IBM XA-64, IntelliStation, LANClient Control Manager, Memory ProteXion, NetBAY3,
Netfinity, Netfinity Manager, Predictive Failure Analysis, RXE Expansion Port, SecureWay,
ServeRAID, ServerProven, ServicePac, SMART Reaction, SMP Expansion Module, SMP Expansion
Port, UM Services, Universal Manageability, Update Connector, Wake on LAN, XceL4 Server
Accelerator Cache, XpandOnDemand scalability.
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product, and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.
For more information,
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This publication is intended for use by students taking in the BladeCenter Fundamentals course,
This document represents a training technique developed for and used by IBM and is not for sale.
Portions of this document, such as foils, charts, and quizzes, may be copied and distributed if required
to conduct the training properly.
Current release date: J uly 2008
Current release level: 3.00
Test numbers for this guide are: XW5033R300
The information contained within this publication is current as of the date of the latest revision and is
subject to change at any time without notice.
Please forward all comments and suggestions regarding the coursematerial, format, and content to
your local IBM xSeries Service and Support Education country coordinator or contact.
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Table of Contents
Preface 3
Table of Contents 4
Introduction to the Study Guide 4
Topic 1 Blade Server Concepts
Topic 2 BladeCenter Chassis
Topic 3 Management Modules
Topic 4 Blade Servers and Blade Server Options
Topic 5 Switch Modules
Topic 6 High Speed Switches
Topic 7 Storage
Topic 8 Solving Problems
Topic 9 Support References
Introduction to the Study Guide
The purpose of this guide is to provide you with the necessary documentation to support the learning
experience so that you can successfully fulfill the objectives defined for this course.
Identify the concepts behind blade servers
Describe the IBM BladeCenter chassis offerings and associated parts
Describe the blade server offerings and associated parts
Describe the switch offerings available for the IBM BladeCenter
Describe how to perform basic problem determination on BladeCenter
Before attending class, we recommend that you are
Server +certified
We require that you have completed the following course and associated authorization test:
Supporting xSeries Servers Part I (XW2001)
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BladeCenter Fundamentals
Topic 1 Blade Server Concepts
This module describes why blade servers have come into being in the modern server market place.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals Objectives
By the end of this module, you will be able to:
Understand the modular concept of the IBM BladeCenter design
Identify the IBM BladeCenter family of products
Recognize the key differences between the IBM BladeCenter chassis
Recognize the modular components that make up the BladeCenter Chassis
List the key advantages of the IBM BladeCenter Chassis
Describe the systems management options available
for the IBM BladeCenter Chassis
Modern businesses are constantly demanding new innovations in technology to support their operations.
One such innovation is the blade server. There are a number of things to be aware of when supporting
products in a blade server environment. We will discuss the driving forces for blade servers, what it
means for the mechanical and electrical environment and also what it means to support IBMs
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BladeCenter Fundamentals IBM BladeCenter Rack Computing
Typical Server Environment
-Many cables and connectors
Each server is connected to switches and PDUs
Potential problems if not managed correctly
-Risk of error when servicing a equipment in a full rack
- Disconnecting the wrong power cord may result in the wrong server being powered
- Disconnecting the wrong LAN or fibre optic cable may result in loss of
communication to clients
-Limited rack space
Server design means only a limited number of devices can be installed in a rack
- UPS, LAN and fibre channel infrastructure take up rack space
- Support specialists from multiple disciplines may be needed to support the whole
Before the introduction of blade server enclosures, the most popular form of dense computing was
standard racks and thin servers.
Rack environments allow businesses to concentrate a number of computers in a small vertical space,
mixing power devices, communication devices and computing devices in a standard, 19 inch rack,
sharing only a small amount of floor space.
All devices in a rack are interconnected in some way. They probably share a common power source and
the hosts are all typically connected to the same communication devices (LAN switches and storage
controllers or switches).
For service, the requirement when servicing components in a rackis to disconnect the right cable when
repairing a failed device. It is often very difficult to trace both ends of a power cord in a rack.
Disconnecting the wrong cable could result in a perfectly good server being powered off by mistake.
With the wide variety of components in a rack, it is likely that several support specialists would be
needed to service the different products in the rack. A server specialist would look after the host servers;
a networking specialist would look after the LAN products and a storage specialist would look after the
fibre optic devices.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals Blade Servers Driving Forces
Blade servers offer a number of advantages to a
-Consolidate and maximize use of common resources:
Space install more processors per unit of rack space
Common components share power, cooling & communications
-Blade servers pose new challenges to support
Acquire new skills:
-Work with centralized management technologies and tools
-Isolate problems without stopping a large number of devices
Regain forgotten skills
-Learn how to work with communication devices (switches)
While there are obvious advantages for businesses to deploy blade servers in order to consolidate
infrastructure and ultimately save space, time and money, the very design of blade server enclosures
poses new challenges for organizations that support the products.
With standalone servers even concentrated tightly into racks - support teams have traditionally
supported the server in isolation. This requires detailed knowledge of the product but the support
specialist may not need to know anything about what is going on outside the box in order to isolate and
fix a hardware fault in the server.
With blade servers, the mechanical and electrical components of the rack are consolidated into a central
chassis. The chassis also contains components that were once elsewhere in the rack room, such as
network or fibre optic switches.
To successfully support a chassis, the support specialist needs to acquire new skills or regain lost skills
in order to support these additional components.
System management hardware is different in a chassis environment as it needs to support multiple blade
servers as well as switch components. Support teams need to understand how to manage a large number
of devices from a central point safely i.e. without stopping a whole chassis from functioning.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals IBM BladeCenter Blade Server
Enclosure or Chassis
A blade server enclosure can be thought of as a powered rack with shared components.
Consolidation means the removal of duplicates. In a blade server enclosure, there are common power,
cooling, management, media and communication devices.
An enclosure also eliminates a large number of wires as, typically, everything in the enclosure will be
connected internally.
At one level, this helps serviceability as there is a reduced risk of pulling out the wrong cable. However,
it does introduce new challenges for service in that the support team must understand the concept of
centralized communications and management.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals IBM BladeCenter Standard Rack vs.
Blade Enclosures
On the left, you can see an example of a 36U rack that contains ten xSeries servers. There are eight
xSeries 335 servers at the bottom of the rack, one xSeries 360 and one xSeries 345 server toward the top
of the rack. The rack also contains switch devices for ethernet and fibre optic storage as well as one
storage server.
On the right, you can see the rear view of an IBM BladeCenter. The BladeCenter Enterprise model takes
7U of rack space. Although this example is largely unpopulated, there are four switch module bays, four
power supply bays, two blower bays and two management module bays. The BladeCenter supports up
to 14 servers, mounted at the front of the chassis.
Apart from the size difference, the BladeCenter eliminates much of the rack wiring by connecting all the
devices through a common midplane. This improves physical accessto the BladeCenter for service but
requires support teams to have a greater understanding of all the components within the BladeCenter.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals IBM BladeCenter Support Skills
Required for BladeCenter
Server knowledge skills
-The blade server is a standard server
Standard board layout with Intel/RISC processor
Standard OS (Windows/Linux/AIX)
Centralized system management skills
-Management module manages all devices
-Media tray is shared by all blade servers
Communication device skills
-All blade servers share LAN and other switch components
Support teams need to be able to isolate faults on these devices
The IBM BladeCenter is a single machine type, with many components. Some of the components such
as blade servers have their own machine type but some such as switches and power supplies have
only option part numbers.
With many different parts in one chassis, support for the product moves into a single domain, requiring
support teams to have skills that were previously not required.
Now, a support specialist needs to understand how to access and use a centralized management tool
the management module to read event logs and understand where a problem lies. Basic network and
fibre optic communication skills are needed to understand why a switch may be malfunctioning.
The remaining modules in this course will help remote support centers to understand the products
contained within an IBM BladeCenter and how to support a BladeCenter when a problem is reported.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals IBM BladeCenter What is an IBM
IBM BladeCenter chassis
- 7 to 11U (model dependent) mechanical
housing to hold multiple blades
- Hot swappable modules and integrated
- Lightpath diagnostics
- Redundant components and paths
IBM Blade Servers
- Vertical mounting hot swap servers
Well begin our discussion by asking the question What is an IBM BladeCenter? Think about the
BladeCenter chassis as an entire datacenter in only 9U of rack space. Within 7 to 11U of rack space
(model dependent), the IBM BladeCenter chassis provides slots for high performance server blades, as
well as all of the basic components (power, network, storage, management, etc) within a single solution.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals IBM BladeCenter Components of the
There are several components that make up an IBM BladeCenter.
These components include:
Blade Servers
Media Tray
Power Supply modules
Hot-swappable Fan Packs
Ethernet Components
Fibre Channel Components
Pass-thru components
High-speed Components (BC-H & BC-HT Only)
Integrated Disk Storage Module (BC-S Only)
Management Module (BC-T Only)
Advanced Management Module
There are several components that make up a BladeCenter chassis. Listed above are the components that
help the BladeCenter chassis provide a power efficiency and manageable infrastructure. Lets begin our
discussion with the actual chassis itself.
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BladeCenter Fundamentals IBM BladeCenter Summary
This module has enabled you to:
-List the driving forces behind blade servers
-Describe the mechanical and electrical implications of
working in a blade server environment
-Describe what is required to successfully support the IBM
You now have a good understanding of why blade servers came intoexistence and what it means to
have to support them.
The remaining modules of this course discuss the BladeCenter components and options and discuss how
to approach problem solving in the BladeCenter environment..