Last year I picked up a surplus HP C7000 Bladecenter (generation 1, complete with BL460c and BL480c G1 blades, fibre channel, Cisco switches, etc) to run Openstack test loads. At about 150 KG, I paid just under £3 per KG, which is pretty damn good for a self-contained test lab (near scrap metal prices, actually).
It took me a while to get somewhere, because my super-cheap home-friendly rack wasn’t deep enough. Eventually I acquired a second-hand Kell Systems 24U silent rack (now called the APC Netshelter SX) and plopped it in the corner of the living room (after taking the front door to the flat off the hinges). Now I’m building up a new routing and switching core for the house, and enabling the C7000 at the same time. The rack also came with a rackmount APC SmartUPS with external battery pack, which is a nice addition.
I know the C7000 isn’t new, but let me tell you, from someone used to bootstrapping with generic white boxes, it is a pretty cool piece of hardware. I just spent an hour going through basic technical documents to get ready to put everything into service, and I have to say I’m impressed. For the price of two rackmount servers I’m putting 10 machines online, complete with remote management, Cisco switching, high-speed interconnects, and full redundancy. HP clearly knows what they’re doing.
Total cost so far — Bladecenter, Blades, Switching, UPS/PDU, silent rack, spares — including shipping, about £1,200. I’ve paid more for a laptop. Resale value (if I wanted to) probably three times that. But seeing as the newer HP BL servers are the same form-factor, and second-hand prices for something slightly older are extraordinarily reasonable, incremental upgrades aren’t expensive. So my test lab is set for the next several years.
HP engineers, my hat’s off to you. The architecture of the C-Class (or whatever your marketing wonks call it) is amazing, especially at second-hand prices. For anyone who is looking to test or startup with some in-house hardware (yes, I know, ‘the Cloud’, etc), take a look at a second-hand C7000.
When I get it all running, I’ll post some pictures. But, since the rack looks like decent office furniture, nothing is exciting until you open it up.
Now, anyone have a stack of HP driver DVDs they need to get rid of?