e-Science Blade Center

In November 2003 the e-Science Centre at Daresbury Laboratory took delivery of an IBM HS20 BladeCenter. Software was subsequently installed on the system which has been used by many e-Science projects for development and now for production service provision. This Web site is to keep users updated on progress and the services provided.


The HS20 BladeCenter is part of IBM's e-Server product range. It is a compact rack-mounted solution for hosting Web services with remote access via a management module. An IBM Web page gives further information and a link to a "visual tour" of the blades and their enclosure.

Up to 84 blades could be hosted in a single 6' rack if we had enought electrical power. We currently have 28 dual 2.8 and 3.2 GHz Xeon blades each with 80GB IDE disk and 2GB memory.

Services hosted on the BladeCenter:

Following 2 years of successful use and an upgrade from 12 to 14 blades, Roger Downing has taken the steps to virtualise some of them using Xen running with Debian Linux. These are identified in the table below with "a", "b", "c", etc. following the blade number.

Note, the real hosts are named after rivers and the virtual hosts after trees.

Services are being hosted on the BladeCenter for a number of projects as follows:

Chassis 1

Chassis 2

A second chassis has been installed in 2007. This will host services for the NW-GRID Project and also additional production services for other e-Science projects such as the National Grid Service.

How to get access to Daresbury resources:

If you are working on one of the projects listed above, you may need to log into the corresponding Blade to do development work. If you do not already have a Daresbury UNIX id, you will need to print, complete and sign the attached form. Please add a note telling us which system you want to access and a copy of the DN from your e-Science Grid certificate and send it back to:

Dr. Xiao Dong Wang
STFC Daresbury Laboratory
Warrington WA4 4AD


Support will be provided for BladeCenter users. We plan have implemented a request and work order tracking system for e-Science products and projects at Darebesbury using the open source Elips software. Client tools will be provided to log a query with the system via a Web form. A new ticket will be created for you containing details of your request. It will then be dealt with and you should receive and e-mail response.


Monitoring software is being installed for the BladeCenter so that we can ensure good availability and performance. We are currently using Nagios.

Security, Backups etc.


Normal STFC and JANET security procedures apply to this server which is provided for academic use for UK e-Science Projects.


Any software installed on the blades must comply with the applied license conditions. Any software found not to comply will be removed.

Backup procedures

Backup and quality procedures around the BladeCenter are documented separately. A copy of the documentation can be provided to project leaders on request via Rob Allan (e-mail below). CVS backup is provided via a separate IBM x330 blade with secondary backup to Tivoli tape store via TSM client. Direct backup to a RAID file store or to the ATLAS StorageTek silo is also implemented.

Networking and Firewall Ports

All blades are currently on the 125 subnet of dl.ac.uk. This subnet is used for external services which are kept separate from the main laboratory network. Firewall ports can be opened allowing access to hosts on the 125 network as required.

An information paper was provided to the UK Grid Engineering Task Force (ETF) giving agreed firewall service and user port range. We recommend that these ports be opened between known hosts. Some services will require additional ports e.g. Tomcat (or other hosting container) on port 8080.

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Topic revision: r2 - 06 Dec 2007 - RobAllan
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