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Fujitsu makes Windows Server 2012 see double

Double-stuffed and clustered Primergy racker aimed at SMBs

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Small and medium-sized businesses want high availability (HA) capability for their core applications, just like the largest enterprises do. But server clustering can be intimidating and expensive, so Fujitsu has rejiggered some of its Primergy hyperscale dense servers to support the clustering of Windows-based servers inside of a single chassis, and to take advantage of shiny new HA features of Microsoft's Windows Server 2012.

For a number of years, Fujitsu has been selling a tray server design based on the Primergy CX400 S1 series enclosure, which crams two or four half-width, two-socket servers into a single 2U chassis, all sharing power supplies and fans. These nodes are called the CX200 S1 series.

The CX400/CX200 combination is similar to hyperscale designs from Dell, HP, Super Micro, IBM, and others. In the case of the Fujitsu design, the chassis has disk drives in the front, which hot plug into a disk backplane. That disk backplane in turn hooks into a midplane that is, as the name suggests, is a passive electronic connection in the middle of the box. The CX200 server nodes plug into the chassis from the back.

The Fujitsu CX420-S1 spitting out a disk drive

The Fujitsu CX420-S1 spitting out a disk drive

To make a Windows Server 2012 cluster, Fujitsu forged a half-width, double-height SX272 S1 server node. This machine is based on Intel's C600 chipset and supports most of the SKUs in the Xeon E5-2600 series of processors, including variants with 2, 4, 6, and 8 cores. Main memory on each server node ranges from a minimum of 16GB using 4GB sticks all the way up to 256GB using 16GB sticks. The C600 chipset is used to create a boot disk from a pair of 2.5-inch SATA drives, and each server node has two Gigabit Ethernet ports and two PCI-Express 3.0 x8 slots on a riser card.

The CX420 S1 chassis supports up to two 1200-watt power supplies, which slide in from the back between the two server nodes; the front of the chassis can hold a dozen 3.5-inch SAS disk drives or solid state disks. The drives are hot pluggable, just like the server nodes and power supplies are.

The CX420-S1 squeezing out a server node and a power supply

The CX420-S1 squeezing out a server node and a power supply

The interesting thing about this whole setup is that the chassis includes a dual-port SAS adapters that link both compute nodes to the dozen disk drives. And with the Storage Spaces storage-virtualization feature of Windows Server 2012, you can manage those dozen disks at the front of the Fujitsu double-whammy as a single storage pool.

Both Windows compute nodes access the disks over the SAS adapters and disk backplane, and presumably there is a SAS controller (perhaps on the C6000 chipset, perhaps in a peripheral slot) that is in charge of the drives.

What El Reg can tell you for sure is that SATA drives are not supported with the Storage Spaces software, so forget about going with cheaper and fatter SATA drives. (Hey, you can't have everything.)

The point that Fujitsu is trying to make is that you don't have to buy a SAN to have some sort of server failover and recovery. Fujitsu says that there is an internal network connection that provides the "heartbeat" between the server nodes, and communication between the nodes (and synchronizing them) is done across "the regular network," meaning your own Gigabit Ethernet switching infrastructure.

The CX420 S1 dual-node cluster supports Windows Server 2012 Standard or Datacenter Edition, and also supports the Hyper-V 3.0 hypervisor that is based on that OS as well as the Windows Storage Server 2012 Standard Edition that is also based on it.

The two-node "cluster-in-a-box" starts at under $12,000 in its base configuration; the chassis and its two nodes will ship in North America in June. ®

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