Home > Hardware, Home Lab, IBM, RackSwitch > IBM RackSwitch–10GbE comes to the lab.

IBM RackSwitch–10GbE comes to the lab.

I’ve recently come into some IBM RackSwitch switches in both the 1Gbe and 10GbE varieties, that I’m hoping will work out well for the home lab. While they’re neither the Dell 8024F’s or Cisco Nexus 5548’s that I have the most experience with – they’re significantly cheaper. I’m going to be doing a series of posts on getting these units running over the next week or two, but wanted to collect some notes first for those who might like some background on these switches.

First, let’s get some information links out there:

IBM G8000 48 port 1GbE 1U Switch with dual uplink module options:
446013__98888.1408029068.386.513.jpg (386×47)

IBM G8124 24 port 10GbE SFP+ 1U Switch

First a little background on these switches, as you’ve probably never heard of them. BLADE Networks was the name of a company that came from the remnants of Nortel’s Blade Chassis Networking division. This would eventually get purchased by IBM and become IBM RackSwitch and BNT products, often seen used in IBM BladeCenter chassis’. So when you go looking for information, you may have to dig and switch names around to find what you’re looking for. The links above should certainly help you out.

So why would someone want some non-Cisco, HP, Juniper, Dell switching? Cost. They’re not very popular, and that works for us. Normally the more popular enterprise equipment was, the lower their resale as off-lease or on eBay. However, when no one has ever heard of it – it tends to make them cheap. Like:

$1000 USD for the G8124 24pt 10GbE switch

$160 USD for the G8000 48pt 1GbE switch

What made me prefer these over the Dell’s I’ve been using? Well I can find a Dell PowerConnect 8024F 24pt 10GbE switch for about $1500 if I get lucky. I do like them as they have 4xRJ45 ports for 1000/10000 ports, and standard RJ45 based console ports. But the power supplies are often $350 and the $1500 switches seldom come with two. The G8124 comes with both power supplies, and supports stacking for $1000. How can I pass that up?

The PowerConnect 6248’s have always treated me well, and support CX4 based stacking in the rear, which removes the need to tie up any front based ports. Also support a 2pt 10GbE SFP+ module that I can never find cheap. With the CX4 stacking module and cables, they’re worth about $600 typically, each. Understandably, the G8000 at $160 was a steal. Especially when you consider that they come with dual power supplies.

So the hope is to take:

1x PC8024F working, single power supply (~$1300)

1x PC8024F non-working, single power supply (~$500)

2x PC6248 working, single power supply, CX4 stacking (~$500)

Or about $2800 in switching

And turn it into:

2x IBM G8124 (~$1300 landed in CAD)

2x IBM G8000 (~$250 landed in CAD)

For about $3100 in switching.

The hope, of course, was to get dual redundant 10GbE switching, and have everything have dual power supplies, for a near wash.

Then I ran into a snag. Turns out these stupid switches have some “mini USB B to DB9” console cable required. It’s the same as the IBM VirtualFabric BladeChassis switches, I could tell based on some units one of my clients had. However, they manage theirs via the chassis/AMM and not the console and didn’t have cables available. So I had to dig some up. If you’re looking for them, you might find this PDF – http://bladenetwork.net/userfiles/file/PDFs/Blade-Console-Cables.pdf – which will help. It’s even so kind as to list some part numbers:

· Blade Part: BN-SB-SRL-CBL

· IBM FRU/CRU: 43X0510

Except, it turns out that FRU isn’t an orderable number, and you’ll get bounced all over IBM if you’re looking for it. You do have two orderable numbers you can try:

· 90Y9338 – mini-USB B to DB9 only

· 90Y9462 – mini-USB B to DB9 and mini-USB B to RJ45 for use with a Cisco console, this is the kit that comes with the VirtualFabric switches.

You’ll find out that no one stocks this cable, and no one is even sure where to order it from. I randomly googled for nights while watching TV until I found a place that said they could. And 3 weeks later I had some cables. They work J

So where am I at now? I have completed the basic configuration and documentation of the G8124’s, and verified they work. I need to get them configured for some networking, primarily stacking and then simple 10GbE so I can use them as vMotion and PernixData interconnects on my ESXi hosts. ISCSI is coming, but right now all my iSCSI is 1GbE. SO I’d have connect the SAN’s to an SFP+ to 1GbE RJ45 transciever. I DO have XFP HBA’s for my NetApp FAS3040’s, so with any luck, and some fibre cables, I can make that work out. What I’d really like to do is find some of the 2pt SFP+ modules for the G8000 and then I think I could get fancy.

If nothing else, I’m learning IBM Networking, and having some fun.

More to come soon!

Categories: Hardware, Home Lab, IBM, RackSwitch
  1. Kevin
    April 9, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    Do you happen to have a spare mini usb to db9 cable for the console?

  1. September 23, 2014 at 6:01 AM
  2. May 20, 2015 at 7:01 AM

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