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Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

HP Blade iLo – it’s 2010 and disappointingly still using a 100Mb NIC?

I wrote this original post over 2 years ago when I first had to build a set of HP blades in a c7000 chassis, having just taken delivery of another c7000 I had hoped that technology in the onboard administrator (OA) modules had progressed a bit further than it has.

For some reason they still only have 100Mb/s on board NICs, despite all other parts of this chassis using the all-singing and dancing Flex10 10Gb technology.

iLo/OA NIC Settings

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Blade Chassis Interconnect Bays – high speed goodness

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Whilst I realise PXE and Altiris etc. are the preferred method for building out large numbers of blades, it doesn’t work for everyone and particularly when it’s the 1st chassis in a Greenfield environment you need to get an OS on a blade before you can even start to setup a PXE server – Windows 2003 over iLo takes about 4 hours to install, 2008 is even worse – or have someone use a USB attached CD to install the 1st blade an OS physically in the DC.

I accept that the iLo is for out of band, emergency type access where the blade OS isn’t accessible – but in my experience there are a large number of scenarios where you need to use tools that boot from DVD/CD .ISO images in a hurry like data recovery, forensic analysis, bare-metal OS restore tools, P2V tools etc. and 100Mb/s just doesn’t cut it these days.

Also if you work in a secured environment then getting clearance to run great and useful tools like DHCP/PXE on networks that could be routed to/from outside the DC is hard, sometimes virtual .ISO media over an isolated and secured OoB network or a person on-site in the DC with physical media is the only acceptable method for moving data.

Gigabit networking is such a ubiquitous technology these days, and with the OA modules for a blade chassis costing around £1k GBP each (2 generally required for redundancy) you would think there is enough budget to go for Gigabit on-board and make the excellent virtual media features really usable in all scenarios

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On the plus-side, they have a fancy new BIOS splash screen 🙂

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…or is it just me?

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12 responses to “HP Blade iLo – it’s 2010 and disappointingly still using a 100Mb NIC?

  1. KyleMcM May 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Not only is the iLO2 network interface 100MBps, there also appears to be some form of performance cap for virtual media (0.50MBps), hence your poor experience with remote installations. You’ll be glad to hear that the new G7 hardware and iLO3 is going to vastly improve the experience with three times the virtual media performance. It too has a swanky new GUI and interface.

    http://h18013.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/12362_div/12362_div.html

    • vinf May 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks KyleMcM – maybe it is being throttled by something in the virtual media applet then, frustrating nonetheless, any HP people able to comment?

  2. mza May 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Hi,
    I don’t know where you get the information that HP still delivers 100Mbit ILO for c7000 but you are wrong.

    I’ve running two new chassis c7000 G2 with two Onboard Administrators with KVM running OA 3.0.

    Onboard Administrator Name:
    MAC Address: XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX
    NIC Settings: Auto-Negotiate, 1000Mbps
    Link Status: Active

    But the BladeServer’s have only 100Mbps in G6. Maybe G7 with iLO3 will have Gbit.

    Kind regards,
    mza

    • vinf May 20, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      Interesting, I too have a c7000 G2 chassis, but G6 blades – so maybe as you say the blades only have 100mbs, which is still a bit pants in 2010, the screenshot showing 100mbs doesn’t have an option to 1Gb/s but I suppose that would make sense as gigabit should really be auto-negotiate – I’ll have to double check the config it is in a gigabit port, but maybe there is a config problem, in which case – I partially retract my post 🙂 will post up details when I’ve had a chance to check 🙂

      Thanks for the info

    • KyleMcM May 20, 2010 at 5:52 pm

      Vinf is 100% correct in stating that the iLO2 interface on the G6 blade is 10/100MBps. Mza you are also correct in stating the OA interface is 1GBps, I think its important to understand they are handled by two different adapters although they do share a physical port on the OA.

      Also for reference I believe the iLO3 adapter on the G7 blades will be 10/100MBps. The improved ASIC and firmware will provide the increased performance.

    • Chuck July 23, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      The confusion comes from the display that was posted above, that says Auto, or 10 meg or 100 meg. In the install doco, it says that the system can Auto detect 10/100/1000, or if set to not negotiate, the choices are 10M or 100M.

  3. nate May 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Also note there may be quite a bit of cpu overhead on iLO when it does virtual media stuff, so even with 1Gbit you may saturate the processor long before you saturate the network.

    What we have done when building a new site is we send a seed server with the systems, or at least seed hdds with a ESXi installation and everything needed to build the rest of the network via PXE. I think my last record was building a site of 13 additional physical servers(10 running real OSs, 3 more running ESXi), about 6-7 hours of time to install everything including application and configs etc, lots of automation. All from 1 seed server via remote access card from about 5,000 miles away. It was pretty neat. I can build the ~60 server environment faster than the network guy can configure the load balancers(2) and switches(2). And believe me the server stuff is far more complicated.

  4. Paul Cruiser June 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    The problem with slow virtual media performance on iLO 2 is that iLO 2 encrypts the virtual media session. This pegs the iLO cpu as well as uses more bandwidth. The original iLO did not do this. HP has not provided a method to disable the encryption. It should be possible for HP to provide this functionality (disable virtual media encryption), considering that original iLO and iLO 2 were based on the same cpu. Unfortunately I have no idea who to contact at HP regarding this long-standing issue. It is sad that iLO 2 performance was a severe downgrade over the original iLO.

  5. Casper42 August 31, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    DISCLAIMER: I work for HP, but have only been there for the last 4 months. Was an HP/Compaq Customer for 12 years before that working as a Windows SysAdmin

    OA Version 1 is 100Mbps
    OA Version 2 is Gig
    Easiest way to know which one you have is physically (or in the web gui) look for a Blue VGA port on the OA. Blue VGA Port means Integrated KVM which means OA G2

    iLO 1/2 are 100Mbps
    iLO 3 (All G7s) are Gig.

    So a c7000 with OA G2 and G7 blades will be allllll Gigabit.

    The slowness with iLO2 and Virtual Media has to do with encryption and also the fact that HP is emulating USB1.1 for the devices.

    iLO3 bypasses this limitation by emulating USB2 and offloading AES to a new piece of silicon within the ASIC. iLO3 should be about 3x faster than iLO2 as far as Virtual Media support goes. (Remote Console is like 7x faster but buggy as hell since the code is all new)

    Another trick I have done/seen that seems to help speed things up, although it might just be my imagination, is to use a Web Hosted ISO file.
    Put the ISO you want to boot from on a web server that is accessible to the iLO (connection goes from iLO to the web server) and then using HPONCFG/iLO GUI you can set it to boot from a URL. I would reccommend using an IP rather than host name otherwise your iLO needs to be configured for, and have access to, DNS servers.

    Here is an example script I put together last night for someone.

    Hope that helps explain things,
    Casper42

    • Paul Cruiser September 2, 2010 at 11:09 pm

      Hi Casper42,

      1st – THANK YOU for your reply.

      2nd – regarding iLO 2, can HP make an option to disable encryption of virtual media? Where can I make this request (is there an enhancement request web page somewhere)?

      3rd – regarding the trick to use a web-hosted ISO file. This does not work reliably in my experience, especially with newer versions of Operating Systems. Usually the iso will boot, but at some point during the install, it will get lost/disconnected. So, preferably, an option to simply disable ilo2 encryption would be best.

      4th – ILO3 would be nice if old servers could be upgraded. Unfortunately HP did not make the iLO chips replaceable. Another enhancement request. And yes, ILO3 is very buggy so far 😦

  6. Casper42 August 31, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Script didnt take
    Lets try this again.
    Replace all [ with

    [RIBCL VERSION=”2.0″]
    [LOGIN USER_LOGIN=”adminname” PASSWORD=”password”]
    [RIB_INFO MODE=”write”]
    [INSERT_VIRTUAL_MEDIA DEVICE=”CDROM” IMAGE_URL=”http://ip.ip.ip.ip/path/filename.iso”/]
    [SET_VM_STATUS DEVICE=”CDROM”]
    [VM_BOOT_OPTION VALUE=”BOOT_ONCE”/]
    [VM_WRITE_PROTECT VALUE=”YES” /]
    [/SET_VM_STATUS]
    [/RIB_INFO]
    [/LOGIN]
    [/RIBCL]

    • Casper42 August 31, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      Arg
      replace left bracket with less than
      replace right bracket with greater than

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