RLX Stands Up to IBM, HP

Integrated management sets blade server apart.

RLX Technologies Inc.s System 600ex chassis, ServerBlade 2800i blades and Control Tower XT blade provide a robust, easy-to-manage blade server platform thats best suited to midtier applications.

eWEEK Labs tests of a configuration including the RLX System 600ex chassis, four ServerBlade 2800i blades and the Control Tower XT blade showed RLXs latest platform offers impressive blade server management and provisioning capabilities.

RLX System 600ex and ServerBlade 2800i

The RLX 600ex blade server system offers strong management features out of the box with the Control Tower XT blade and ERMMs. IT managers looking for a powerful and easy-to-manage blade system to tackle midtier applications should consider the 600ex with 2800i blades. The 600ex enclosure starts at $4,900; the 2800i blade starts at $3,400 without KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch support.
















  • PRO: Robust management package out of the box; built-in remote management module on blades and enclosure.
  • CON: Limited KVM capabilities; no SCSI option for internal storage.

• HPs ProLiant BL20p G2 • IBMs eServer BladeCenter HS20

The components, which shipped this month, are built on the latest Intel Corp. Xeon chip sets and hardware, making the 600ex/2800i/Control Tower XT combo a formidable competitor to IBMs eServer BladeCenter HS20 and Hewlett-Packard Co.s ProLiant BL20p.

The 600ex chassis, priced starting at $4,900, accommodates 10 dual-processor 2800i server blades, which start at $3,400 each. The 6U (10.5-inch) 600ex can accommodate 70 dual-processor blades in a standard 42U (73.5-inch) data center rack.

Although the RLX 600ex system doesnt offer blade density as great as the eServer BladeCenter (see review), which can fit 14 more blades into a rack, the RLX systems robust integrated management capabilities and built-in ERMM (Embedded Remote Management Module) set it apart from comparably priced rivals.

RLXs ActivManage management scheme comprises the ActivStat LCD panel, Control Tower XT and ActivConfig management software. The ActivManage suite provided solid out-of-the-box management capabilities in tests.

The Control Tower XT blade discovers blades in the chassis and deploys and provisions operating systems. A single Control Tower XT blade can manage multiple 600ex chassis.

We could use Control Tower XTs Java-based Web user interface for all management tasks and easily provisioned and monitored the blades using the intuitive Web interface.

The ActivStat LCD panel displays server information and commands for each blade. We used ActivStat to access power controls, obtain IP information and check overall system health. We could also access the ActivConfig blade management user interface via the Web.

The 600ex chassis has strong hardware redundancy features. The system we tested included three redundant hot-swappable 1,500-watt power supplies.

In terms of connectivity, the 600ex chassis has a modular E-tray, which houses all the network components. The system can support two 20-port Gigabit Ethernet Layer 2 switches. The company plans to release Fibre Channel hookups for connecting the blade system to a storage area network back end.

The 2800i blades come with dual 2.8GHz Intel Xeon processors with 512KB of Layer 2 cache, a 60GB hard drive and 2GB of double-data-rate error-correcting code synchronous dynamic RAM.

The 2800i blade can accommodate a single 20GB or 60GB ATA hard drive and can scale with up to 8GB of memory but doesnt offer SCSI or RAID options. IBMs and HPs offerings have slightly more on-board capacity, and IBM offers a SCSI storage option.

The four 2800i ServerBlades we tested had Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Red Hat Linux 7.3 preinstalled.

In addition, the blades support Windows 2000 Server and Red Hat Linux 7.3 and 9.0.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu is at francis_chu@ ziffdavis.com.