RLX vs. Tatung: Sharpening the Differences Between Blade Servers Page 3

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Tatung TUD-2016

TUD-2016: A new player in the blade server marketplace offering solid performance

The first thing we noticed about the TUD-2016 was that installing it is not quite as simple as doing so with the RLX unit. First, a DHCP server is required, even if the blades have static IP addresses. Next, a workstation or server is required to install and run its ManageSite application and M-Director blade.

With the setup Tatung shipped to us, the application was pre-installed on an external PC running Windows 2000. In addition to the ManageSite application, the management PC requires MySQL, MyODBC, a PXE server, an IIS Web server, and an FTP server. Setting up the management PC from scratch would probably require about eight hours of an administrator's time.

Physical configuration of the system is straightforward, although we found accessing the blades individually to be somewhat difficult since the front panel is attached with four screws, rather than simply locking. This might induce administrators to leave the panel off for convenient access to the blades and their function LEDs, which could lead to a security problem.

Each blade features a KVM connector that can be used to configure an operating system or install applications. Redundant network and management modules are available on the back, along with redundant power supplies. This full redundancy means a single failure cannot take the whole system down.

TUD-2016 Ultra-Dense Blade Server

Source: Tatung

Once the system is plugged in, the ManageSite 1.1 management application is started. The Web-based interface is logically organized, although we did find the read-only aspects of some things confusing. For example, you can see the IP addresses of the management interfaces, switch interfaces, and server blades, but you cannot change them through the application. Configuring IP addresses required attaching a serial cable and using a serial terminal to log in. There are also separate logins and passwords for the management blades, the management console (ManageSite), and the serial management consoles, making it difficult to know (and remember) which login and password is required.

Creating and deploying operating system images is fairly straightforward, although the system we received supported only Red Hat 6.2 and Windows 2000 Server for rapid deployment. (Red Hat 7.2, 7.3, and 8.0 support is scheduled to be available some time in the first quarter of 2003.) Other operating systems that can be installed via the network can also be manually installed, giving a fair degree of flexibility. Deploying Red Hat 6.2 to a blade took less than 10 minutes, and deploying Windows 2000 Server required about half an hour, due primarily to the larger size of the operating system image.

ManageSite also features good tools for monitoring the hardware and software.

Vendor Home Page: Tatung Science & Technology
Product Home Page: TUD-2016 Ultra-Dense Blade Server
Operating Systems Supported: Red Hat 6.2 and Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server; Red Hat 7.2, 7.3 and 8.0 support to be available soon Price: Chassis with dual fan modules, dual power supply modules, dual management blades, and dual switch blades is $5,890; server blade with an 800 MHz Pentium 3 processor, 512 MB RAM and a 40 GB hard drive is $1,490; Amphus ManageSite for platform management and fast automatic deployment comes bundled; fully loaded system with 16 blades, $29,730

Pros: Integrated switch modules reduce cabling complexity; Full redundancy of all components ensures system reliability
Cons: System setup and configuration is fairly complex; Third-party management application means the possibility of two separate support requirements; Access to the blades is inconvenient

This article was originally published on Mar 6, 2003
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