The Desk-side Data Centre

ROBO The Ultimate Torment

If, like me, you’ve been knocking around in the IT operations management game for a while, you probably bear a few water heaterscars. You probably have a few horror stories that you keep to yourself unless someone has plied you with alcohol or you are under the influence of heavy medication.  One of the memories I have is the time I lost a sales office. Now obviously I didn’t lose a complete office, it isn’t something you leave behind in a Kebab shop at 2 o’clock in the morning. No, this was a complete loss of all IT services. How? Well my guy on the ground told me over the phone that the water heater had burst.

Excuse me? What stupid water heater? Now bear in mind I had never been in this office. It was relatively small and we were about to move to larger premises. I had a good lad on the ground who I had recently hired and he was fully engaged on the planned move. “James, please explain to me how exactly this happened?”.

“Well Pete, the water heater was on a purpose built shelf over all the servers and the PABX. It is an old model and we had a big freeze over the weekend that caused the pipes going into the heater to burst.”

DC in a cupboardNow this was at a time before smart phones and the use of webcams was relatively new. We suffered a little bit from cultural differences. Something that gets exaggerated when you wander into subjects that are not often discussed  on international corporate calls i.e. plumbing. In the absence of “a picture paints a thousand words”, it took some time for me to fully realise that what we were talking about was a 40 gallon immersion tank and our server room/cupboard was in fact what we call over here, in Ireland anyway, the immersion press (cupboard to our international readers).

To clarify this completely, take the picture on the left here which is a classic example of the remote office data centre. Also take the water tank in the picture in the top right of this page and install it above all the equipment.

You don’t need me to tell you that we now have a perfect recipe for a complete disaster.

In a nutshell that is my little anecdote. I am sure that many of you could share similar stories. The challenge for managing the remote office is delivering complex solutions without having complete control over the environment. Even if you have a dedicated room is it really secure? I know I have seen dedicated rooms that doubled, unbeknownst to me, as stationary cupboards. All of this is before we even get near the complexity of the technology itself.

Now throw in the need for local data storage. You may need a local exchange server on top of the active directory domain controller. There may be some form of local database or application server. All of this in an environment where you cannot retain control over how the servers and storage are physically connected. We have all been the victim of “what does this cable do?” events.

ROBO – The Ultimate Solution

Try to imagine what the best in class solution would look like. It would have the ability to have multiple servers in the one chassis. Let’s say four is a good number. It would have some form of shared storage. Let us imagine a world gone mad with data growth and allow up to 48TB of data. Connect it all with 1Gbe. Now throw in the ability to add up to 8 PCIe cards. Take the platform and get it certified to run with both VMware and Microsoft HyperV.

Now put it all in a single box that can be a free standing tower or racked up only taking up 5u of rack space. Make it quiet enough that it will run in an open office without driving everybody bonkers. Base it all on the best in class Blade server solutions utilising the M520 or the fantastic M620 blade servers.

Not enough? How about a single console to manage the whole thing!

Taa Daa

I give you the Dell VRTXVRTX

  • A 5U Tower chassis that is rackable
  • Up to 4 server nodes that are hot plug and serviceable
  • Capable of holding 12 x 3.5″ or 25 x 2.5″ Hot Plug HDDs
  • Internal 1 Gbe switch module
  • Optional Pass-Through Module with 8 x 1Gbe ports
  • 8 Full height and 5 low profile PCIe slots
  • High Availability, Redundant PSUs/Fans
  • Full Systems Management through a Simple and Easy To Use Chassis Management Console
  • Office level acoustics

Now where can I get a time machine?


7 thoughts on “The Desk-side Data Centre

  1. Can I get one?
    I don’t need the disks, I’ll throw in a few quad-ports FC HBA in it (I have a few lying around) so I can boot on my SAN storage 🙂

  2. But you can do this. You will not use ALL benefits but for sure some. Like small form-factor blade box with much less power consumption than any other blade or rack solution. But better will be replace your “old” FC solution with fastest PCI-E Solution 🙂

    • I know it would looks great in my rack, and offer me better management than my current servers (even though they’re pretty good (2xQuadCore CPU, 32GbRAM, 2x300Gb SAS HD each)).
      I’m not looking to replace my excellent SAN array, but to complement it with good servers, easy to manage and maintain 🙂
      And a small blade chassis/serverswould perfect 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on TheyCallMeBeef's Blog and commented:
    Simply Bitchin’… As a storage guy who has benefited from the best storage acquisitions Dell has made in the past 15 years, this box makes me jealous, envious and proud at the same time.

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