Recently, one of our competitors misstated a couple of key points about Dell’s FlexAddress and I’d like to take a moment to clarify how easy it is to implement and integrate the virtualization system into existing environments. (To tell you the truth, we're a bit flattered as they also have "real stories" about Sun, IBM and EMC, so we must be doing something right.)
Before I do that, though, I’d like to suggest that all IT companies make their respective technologies easier to understand, which will empower customers to see the facts for what they are and make informed decisions – the true spirit of pure competition.
The Basics: What is FlexAddress
- FlexAddress works by locking a server's World Wide Name (WWN for Fibre Channel Fabrics) and Media Access Control (MAC for Ethernet Fabrics) to a blade slot instead of on the blade itself.
- By removing the network and storage identity from the server hardware, customers are now able to upgrade and replace components or the entire server without taking the additional steps of changing the identity on the network, which can be very time consuming especially as IT environments become more virtualized.
- FlexAddress simplifies how IT departments manage their servers and limits any downtime caused by maintenance or upgrading in the datacenter. This empowers administrators by allowing a server change to not affect the network and storage teams while allowing server administrators to rapidly get their job done. It also seamlessly integrates into the existing server and network administrator management infrastructure.
Implementation: A Different Approach
FlexAddress is enabled through the Chassis Management Controller (CMC) of the PowerEdge M1000e, thus it works with all I/O modules (including Cisco, Brocade, and Dell PowerConnect — it even works with any pass-through module) and IO Mezzanine cards (including Qlogic, Emulex, and Broadcom).
What makes this different from other blade vendors is that you don’t have to switch your switch. FlexAddress is controlled by the CMC, it doesn’t add a management layer, and seamlessly integrates into the network and server management already used in any datacenter today.
The key takeaway here is the customer can use what they have in place, no need to implement new physical hardware and introduce a new management structure.
The 4 Key Things to Ask: Making an Informed Decision
When I talk to customers, I encourage them to ask us or any other blade provider a couple of questions:
- “What does it take to make this feature work?”
- “What hardware has to be implemented?”
- “Can I manage this feature with the tools I have in place?”
- “How much do all these features cost?”
If you don’t get good answers to the above questions, I’d suggest moving to the next blade vendor. I’d also encourage all the companies out there talking up server blades to simplify how you (and we) explain the value of our respective technologies with clear comparisons and solid facts.
Our customers are telling us that they want less hype and more facts to simplify their decisions.