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Jul 22 2015

FUJITSU Integrated System PRIMEFLEX: Your Fast Track to Datacenter Infrastructures, Pt. 1


Delivering the right information to the right person at the right time has been a prerequisite for running successful businesses since the days grain trade first emerged in Ancient Egypt. In today's hyper-connected economy, following this key rule is of even greater vital importance than at any point in history. Sadly, many organizations are still unprepared to adapt to this ever-increasing demand for efficiency. Fujitsu's PRIMEFLEX integrated systems are designed to help companies meet this requirement.

When the Internet and its related technologies first became popular some 20 years ago, everyone marveled not only at the treasure trove of information that was suddenly at their fingertips, but also at the new opportunities to connect to relatives, friends and business partners around the globe in real or at least near-real time. However, only few people had an idea of where the journey into the Digital Age would take us or about how people and companies could best handle the abundance of information flowing in from a constantly growing amount of sources. Today smartphones, tablets, PCs and a host of intelligent devices – from wristbands through smart meters – generate trillions of data where once there were 'only' billions, and the job of sifting through them to create meaningful information gets exponentially harder every year. But to rein in this flood of data and support its transformation, most companies would need IT infrastructures that are very different from what they have today – infrastructures that are flexible enough to grow as needed, but will stay as easy to operate and manage over the medium and long term as they are today. The problem is that creating such infrastructures is anything but simple, if not downright impossible, for firms that decide to do it all on their own: choosing the adequate servers, storage systems and network devices and integrating them into a consistent whole is indeed a 24/7/365 job. Or put differently, a job even the largest IT departments, let alone smaller ones, can't handle flawlessly or with feasible human effort. Unless, of course, they have the right building blocks.

Integrated Systems: What They Are and How They Work
But what do such building blocks look like, and which requirements do they have to meet? Within the past ten years, so-called integrated systems have seen a massive boost in popularity. Integrated systems have been described as combinations of server, storage, and network connectivity, sold with management software that facilitates the provisioning and management of the combined unit. In other words, each building block is essentially a self-contained system that includes all components required for successful IT operation and would easily work as a single entity. Market researcher Gartner expects the worldwide market for such solutions to grow by 23.8% each year through 2018, to a total of roughly $19bn; so it's in fact a growth segment that both users and channel partners must keep an eye on.

Fujitsu has a long tradition of building integrated systems based on our extremely reliable PRIMERGY family of x86 servers combined with equally solid components either from our own production – namely, our ETERNUS storage arrays – or from our technology partners. Lately, these efforts culminated in the creation of the PRIMEFLEX brand. Today, PRIMEFLEX is an umbrella term for a portfolio of over 20 different products, all of which can be used in almost any IT environment, from SMBs through midsize companies to large corporations. Two of the most popular solutions from this portfolio are PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box and PRIMEFLEX vShape, which were explicitly designed to bring enterprise-class computing capabilities to smaller organizations.

PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box
First introduced in 2012, PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box was developed to provide a "fast track to continuous operation" for SMBs that previously couldn't set up server clusters because they either lacked the skills or found them to be too expensive, or sometimes both. To eliminate these problems and clear up several other issues in the process, we pack all required hard- and software components into one compact enclosure that can then serve as a small but complete datacenter covering typical SMB demands. Always received as ready-to-run package, Cluster-in-a-box is available as fixed-size appliance or configurable solution; nowadays, more than 50% of all related revenues stem from sales of configurable setups.

Like their fixed-size counterparts, the configurables are available in two different form factors, one based on FUJITSU Server PRIMERGY BX400 blade systems and another one derived from our scale-out model FUJITSU Server PRIMERGY CX420:

  • The BX-based model packs two PRIMERGY BX920 S4 Server Blades, one PRIMERGY SX980 S2 Storage Blade, two Ethernet switches, two SAS switches and four redundant power supplies into a BX400 housing. Each server blade is equipped with a pair of Intel® Xeon® E5-2400 v2 processors1 with four, six or eight cores and clock speeds ranging from 1.8 to 3.1 GHz, up to 768 GB of main memory, and four 1 Gb/s Ethernet or two 10 Gb/s CNA mezzanine cards or one 6Gb/s SAS HBA. Internal storage capacities may vary depending on the media type; customers can choose between three types of 2.5 inch drives, namely SAS HDDs with capacities ranging from 300 GB to 1.2 TB, NL-SAS HDDs with capacities between 500 GB to 1 TB and SAS SSDs that offer between 200 and 1.6 TB of storage space. The different disk types can be mixed whereby each configuration requires at least three drives.
  • The CX-based model builds on two PRIMERGY CX272 Server Nodes and is completed by a set of NL-SAS HDDs, SAS HDDs or SAS SSDs and two redundant power supplies in a CX420 box. The disks are already connected to the server nodes via SAS Expanders. Each node is equipped with two Intel® Xeon® processors from the E5-2600 family with similar core counts and clock speeds as the above model, 256 GB main memory max, Ethernet and SAS controller (plus optional Ethernet cards). Unlike the BX-based model, this one uses 3.5 inch disks, albeit with identical capacities and transfer rates and identical requirements regarding minimum configuration.

As noted above, every PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box is supposed to work as a 'miniature datacenter' that provides the basis for operating physical or virtualized Windows Server environments. To achieve this, each bundle comes with Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Datacenter pre-installed and is set up as a high availability cluster by default. Thanks to the adapted Out-of-the-box Configuration Wizard the entire configuration is up and running in less than 45 minutes after it is powered on the first time. Like every other PRIMERGY-based solution, PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box includes Fujitsu's ServerView Management Suite. Altogether, PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box makes it easier than ever before to implement compute clusters that ensure continuous business operations at an affordable price and with little human intervention – the perfect 'entry-level cluster' for midsize and smaller businesses.

This solution essentially provides reference architectures (or 'blueprints') for virtualization and private cloud projects that help novices and experts alike to avoid the typical pitfalls of such projects, especially with regard to exploding costs and complexity. All PRIMEFLEX vShape reference architectures use technology from leading vendors as building blocks: x86 PRIMERGY servers from Fujitsu, storage systems from Fujitsu or from NetApp, and switches from Brocade. Moreover, all are validated using industry-leading hypervisors like VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V. Available in sample configurations that support anywhere between 25 and 2,400 virtual servers, or alternatively Virtual Desktop Infrastructures with 20 and 42 VMs, all packages are modular and scalable, and their building blocks are adaptable with regard to performance, functionality and capacity – hence every PRIMEFLEX vShape solution can be configured to fit individual company needs. Building on this kind of integrated flexibility, Fujitsu has created an ecosystem of expansion packs for more specific usage scenarios, such as automated IT, data and storage resource management or business intelligence, with the help of technology partners. So overall, PRIMEFLEX vShape makes implementing virtualization and private clouds much easier by helping customers to

  • Take a holistic approach to virtualization and cloud
  • Implement virtualization and cloud infrastructures efficiently
  • Avoid vendor lock-in and
  • Invest with a long-term view

To round out the offering, Fujitsu acts as a single point of contact for the complete solution during the design, setup, testing, operation, and maintenance stages of individual projects.

With PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box and PRIMEFLEX vShape, Fujitsu has wrapped up two very attractive solution packages that radically simplify consolidating and modernizing IT infrastructures for SMBs as well as companies with a large network of branch offices. Implementing virtualization and private clouds has never been easier for these customers – and channel partners that can help them 'make the move' will rank high as trusted advisors in future. For a detailed look at methods that help boost the efficiency of small to medium IT infrastructures, please visit our new SMB microsite.

[1] Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Kathrin Hofherr


About the Author:

Kathrin Hofherr

Product Marketing Manager Storage at Fujitsu


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