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Buyer's Guide
Blade Servers
September 2022
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Network Administrator at a educational organization with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Long-lasting and reliable solution with complicated upgrades
Pros and Cons
  • "They are really easy to maintain. I've added RAM to them. I've done a lot of other things with the virtualization."
  • "The biggest pain point for us is the matrix for the firmware upgrades. It is a pain. You look at that thing, you might as well be reading Greek. It would be a whole lot better if they could clean up their documentation on it."

What is most valuable?

Cisco UCS E-Series Servers have been reliable. I think that's one of the big things. Their hardware has been pretty, pretty reliable. I have noticed some issues with their controllers failing due to the thermal paste drying up and the heat sinks falling off causes them to fail. But that was something we experienced last year. It took almost five years for any hardware failure. And even that was like a $100 repair. So nothing too major. 

Additionally, the UCS GUI is pretty straightforward. The server itself is a lot easier to maintain than some of the other Cisco equipment, like the routers and switches.

They are really easy to maintain. I've added RAM to them. I've done a lot of other things with the virtualization.

What needs improvement?

In terms of what needs improvement, I would say the biggest pain point for us is the matrix for the firmware upgrades. It is a pain. You look at that thing, you might as well be reading Greek. You just look at it and you're like, well, is it this with this one? Or this with this one? My model matches this, but my CPU is running this. It's just a nightmare. It would be a whole lot better if they could clean up their documentation on it.

It would be good if they organized that more making it a little bit easier for people who don't understand the language as much. I think that's kind of what Cisco in general is, if you're not a CCNA or something like that you're going to have a lot of trouble managing and maintaining it. I think that's probably one of the biggest failure points with Cisco, from their documentation all the way to their products. I mean it's a solid product for sure. And they have some of the best experts working for them. But for small house users and schools, it's not really feasible.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Cisco UCS E-Series Servers for three to five years. We bought all the Cisco equipment at the same time. It was before I actually joined the company, but they were pretty much all bought within a year or two of each other. So somewhere in that three to five range.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I took it over the maintenance two years ago. I've also worked with vendors to initially get that started because I didn't know at the beginning how to do that.

We don't have a choice where I work. I have to handle everything on the racks. So servers, everything that's contained in the servers, all the switches, all the infrastructure. I deal with it by myself. And we have 10 sites with the same infrastructure at all sites, I maintain all those.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support is really good. I don't go through them, though. We have a reseller that we go through. They've basically got the TAC licenses. We work with an organization called OneNeck. And they do the majority of our tier one support. Then, if they can't get it figured out, they call TAC. And I've dealt with TAC just one or two times because I took over on the troubleshooting. But I would say that they know their stuff. I give them the logs and they can knock it out pretty quickly.

How was the initial setup?

In terms of the initial setup, I didn't do the install. I've done installs of their Cisco switches and things like that, and those are pretty straightforward and simple. I didn't actually do the UCS servers, so I'm not sure. We had one fail and we used an old one and spun that up, and that was relatively easy to reconfigure, I should say. So just reassigning IPs and folks' names and all that. That was simple.

The hardware was pretty simple to maintain.

What other advice do I have?

Our next move will be going away from them. We're probably going to move to a PowerEdge Dell or HP solution. We've already looked into that a little bit. So I don't have a lot of great things to say necessarily. With the blade servers, as long as they run, I think that's the most important thing. And software and everything seems to be pretty stable with those. They're pretty hands-off. It's just a little more complex when you have to upgrade the firmware.

On a scale of one to ten, I would give Cisco UCS E-Series Servers a seven. I think the biggest thing is they have good longevity.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JuanDuque - PeerSpot reviewer
Manager of Capacity and Control Management at a insurance company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Very reliable, expands well, and is pretty simple to set up
Pros and Cons
  • "The product has been simple to set up."
  • "It could always use new tools."

What is our primary use case?

I'm working just with the Generation 9 and Generation 10 as Generation 8 is obsolete. We are leaving that kind of solution. These generations are a little bit obsolete since the processor, and the spec of the Blades are behind a newer HP solution.  

Right now, we're using that with a Citrix server and use it with VMware SX 7.0.

What is most valuable?

It's scalable, and it's stable.

The product has been simple to set up.

What needs improvement?

One thing that is already being fixed in the new solution is how you connect with the console of tech management of this Blade or other enclosures. Right now, usually, you have to connect one by one, and it's a little tedious. And besides, the better option or best option they have to improve is to consolidate the way you connect to this platform. Right now, for example, if the new solution (Synergy) has a way to connect to everything and is a one-view console, it would be ideal.

It could always use new tools. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a stable platform. The number of issues or the number of failures on the system that we have with this platform is minimal. It's reliable, and the performance is good. 

This is important. Usually, you get a cluster configured on that platform. This cluster usually has critical services, and it's important that you put services on a stable platform. Specifically, with generation 9, we have four years with this solution, and in those four years, the issues or failures have been very few.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution can scale. 

There are 30 people, approximately, who can access the console and manage the whole platform. The server that we have inside of it is related to the virtualization and might have more than 1000 users.

How are customer service and support?

In the past year, support was very good. We got fast answers. 

For example, if we have a Blade fail or something like that, the response was very quick. However, right now, it takes so long to change parts, it's not as good. For example, if you need to replace a part of the display, sometimes it takes a while, even if we have a contract. Even if we have an SLA contract, they take so long now.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Neutral

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

Compared with other brands like Cisco and Dell, HP is very stable and very scalable. It's very useful for the Intel platform that we use it is related to VMware or Citrix.

We like the HP platform and have used it all these years. We are very comfortable with it. It's one reason we want to continue with it. However, the price is not that good. 

How was the initial setup?

It is very straightforward to set up. It's not complex. 

The length of deployment depends on the way that you configure the Blades. For example, if you're going to work with VMware, the time could be at least 25 to 30 minutes. It is not going to depend on the BladeSystem; it is going to depend on the time of the operate system deployed. 

The number of people you need for maintenance depends on the monitoring system that you have. For example, if you have a good monitoring system for this platform you're going to need less than ten specialists, but if you don't have a monitoring system to check the platform, probably you're going to need more than ten people.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The prices right now for HP are high. It has the highest price if you compare it with other solutions like Dell, for example. 

That said, I don't directly deal with contracts and can't speak to the exact cost.

What other advice do I have?

We're a customer.

I'm currently using HP Blades for c7000 Enclosures. Also, I'm using two Synergy Blades with Synergy Frames.

The Blades are not being sold anymore, and HP is moving people over to Synergy. I'd advise new users to take advantage of Synergy Blades going forward. 

I'd rate it a nine out of ten due to its general stability. Compared to other solutions in the market, HP is quite stable.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Syed  Ibrahim - PeerSpot reviewer
Assistant Manager Systems - IT Infrastructure at a transportation company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Provides a high initial ceiling before upscaling is required, user-friendly and rich in resources, but has occasional stability issues
Pros and Cons
  • "The product is very user-friendly and has many resources at the enterprise level."
  • "Forced restarts due to free upgrades is an issue that needs to be resolved. We can manage this as we have high availability and redundancy, but without that it could be a real problem."

What is our primary use case?

We use the solution for virtualization and as a physical system. 

What is most valuable?

The product is very user-friendly and has many resources at the enterprise level.

Lenovo provides a 14 blade server, which allows for high resource consumption before upscaling is required when compared to other products.

This solution is also very good from a network and bandwidth perspective and I would recommend it. 

What needs improvement?

The solution should come with cloud native applications to prepare for cloud based solutions.

Forced restarts due to free upgrades is an issue that needs to be resolved. We can manage this as we have high availability and redundancy, but without that it could be a real problem.

The level of customer support needs to be improved.

There is currently an issue with Lenovo switching out SAN switches from the chassis, which will cause problems for people who already have a set up with the SAN switch connected to the central storage. This could require an entirely different network, adding an additional cost for the user. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for the past five years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There is an occasional stability issue when there is a requirement for a freeware upgrade, which happens automatically. This can interfere with workflow and is something that needs to be dealt with.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good as Lenovo provide 14 blades. This allows vast accommodation of resources in a single implementation which is important for an enterprise solution. Going with Cisco, HP or Dell would require you to purchase additional chassis, as they are limited to eight or nine blades per month.

How are customer service and support?

We have called them during certain critical cases to avoid delays during production. I would rate the support between fair and good, there is room for improvement. 

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

Previously we used IBM, but switched to Lenovo because it has the 14 blades instead of the eight blade server of IBM. As an enterprise level company Lenovo is more attractive to us from a budgeting and resource perspective. Switching hasn't caused us much of a problem.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is easy, XClarity integration makes management and framework upgrades very simple.
In our environment, deployment complexity is more of a network issue than a hardware issue.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The 14 blade server allows significant room for upscaling before having to invest in another chassis. You would have to purchase another chassis much sooner in the case of an eight or nine blade server. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also considered Cisco and Dell as potential options.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

We implement this product for 1,500 to 2,000 clients.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Associate Engineer at Quess GTS
Real User
Top 20
Flexible boot functionality, allows for a complex network design, and has good technical support
Pros and Cons
  • "The Boot from SAN function is good because using OTV, we can boot the device from any remote location."
  • "This product uses a converged network adapter because it is the only way to provide flexibility with both fiber and ethernet connections."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and this is one of the products that we implement for our clients. These systems are for advanced data.

What is most valuable?

The template feature is very good, and it works well.

The Boot from SAN function is good because using OTV, we can boot the device from any remote location.

I like the level of complexity that this product offers because I have a lot of relevant knowledge, which makes troubleshooting and performance tuning easier.

What needs improvement?

This product uses a converged network adapter because it is the only way to provide flexibility with both fiber and ethernet connections.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with the Cisco UCS B-Series for approximately three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable product. However, if the customer is using devices from different vendors on the same network then there can be some small problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This product is very much scalable. Once you are using active/passive devices, you can switch them depending on the needs of the infrastructure.

Only one of my clients has this device implemented.

How are customer service and support?

The technical support is very good. They are very knowledgeable and have taught us a lot.

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

I work with a variety of Cisco products. For example, I have a lot of clients that are using Cisco firewalls. As such, I have a lot of experience with Cisco devices including HyperFlex, UCS, Nexus 7K, 5K, 2K, and 1K virtualization.

Some of my clients are using products from vendors such as HP or Dell, rather than using a Cisco Blade Server. I also have customers using VxRack and VxRail. the Cisco products consume less energy, and I prefer to implement them.

How was the initial setup?

The level of complexity for the initial setup depends on the client. For example, new clients usually only require a normal design. For clients that redesign their network, there is some inherent complexity.

In general, a hyperconverged system is very easy to configure.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This is a premium device and our clients are not as concerned about the reasonableness of the price compared to satisfaction with their productivity.

What other advice do I have?

This is a product that I recommend. If somebody instead chooses to implement a Dell, then they will have a converged system or will be using NetApp. This is much more complex than setting up a hyperconverged system.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Buyer's Guide
Blade Servers
September 2022
Get our free report covering Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and other competitors of Dell PowerEdge M. Updated: September 2022.
632,539 professionals have used our research since 2012.