Thursday, July 23, 2009

A tale of trying to run the HP BladeSystem Power Sizer

Normally when I want to evaluate the power that a server will pull from the grid, I just check its specifications and I'm done with it. Yesterday I needed to measure the power requirements of a C3000 chassis we're going to install in a data center downtown. It hasn't been that trivial.

Here is the scoop: I'll tell you how right away how much power a C3000 consumes.

  • It has a maximum of 6 power supplies, each rated at 1200W.
  • Since this is a 3+3 configuration of redundant power, this means that the total it can consume is 1200W * 3, which makes 3600W.
  • At 240V, 3600W gives out 15 amperes.
  • Done.

While this is possibly not the best way to calculate how much power it requires, doing otherwise is not very easy. The quickspecs detail every possible configuration but are shy on the exact consumption. 6.2A per power supply is mentioned at the end. So okay, we're at 18.6 amperes then.

Then there is the tool named "HP BladeSystem Power Sizer" that looked promising. I could not have been more wrong.

I expected a nice web-based application or, at worst, an Excel spreadsheet (Google docs would have been way cool). But of course, no, no, no, no, no, no! HP made a stand-alone software to do this. I don't see that much anymore, especially for such a purpose. Maybe it has nice bells and whistles that the programmers didn't know how to develop using AJAX, because they're stuck in limbo in a brave .NET world? Perhaps. How could I know? I haven't even been able to make it run!

For a vendor to release stand-alone software like this in 2009 is an excellent way to loose sales. Writing short-sighted Javascript too, by the way. Here's why:

1. Many corporate PCs are locked and users do not have administrator privileges, it's my case here. The Power Sizer is a full-blown InstallShield-packaged setup program, and it fails with an error if you're not an admin. Okay, so I ask an admin to install it.

2. Then I'm welcomed with a dialog that asks me to input my name, company, and e-mail address. It's definitely going to send this back to HP. Why not doing a web-based interface then? No privacy policy info can be seen anywhere (looks like it was at the end of the long EULA I blood-signed when I installed earlier).

3. And, at the end of it all, I get greeted by this:

As you see, this is a white window, with useless menus at the top which don't do anything except offer me the choice of leaving or changing my profile information and an about box.

Boy, does a tool like this suck. Not only does it run only on Windows (GNU/Linux users, scram!), but it requires administrator privileges to install (users with locked PCs, scram!), and according to the EULA, it sends back to HP what you're doing with it (privacy advocates, scram!). And finally, it doesn't even work (customers who made it here, scram!).

Back to the calculator to chew up the power requirements, I guess.

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