Ever Wondered What A Terabyte of RAM Looked Like?

The cloud is finally coming at the place I work, and a couple of chassis’ worth of HP BL685c G5 goodness arrived in the lab on Friday so that we could finally get to work with some scalability and performance testing before finalising the specifics of VM sizing and the cost model. Except it wasn’t fully assembled. This was on purpose though – sharing the rather common geek characteristic of (1) extreme impatience and (2) the ability to assemble any given bit of infrastructure without the aid of manuals or even eyesight, we told HP to not worry about shipping the order to the company that usually assembles stuff for us, and just ship it direct to our labs. We weren’t quite expecting the 5 pallets worth of boxes that showed up however. So when one of my co-workers picked up the phone to hear a voice somewhat like the lab manager’s but more whimpy, crying “help… help…” we thought the Right Thing to do would be to hit the lab and assemble the kit ourselves.

Now as you can imagine, the scenario was something akin to Gollum and the ring of power. A couple of infrastructure architects standing in front of 5 pallets worth of brand spankin’ new HP kit (we wants the HP… we needs the HP), salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. We decided to go for a couple of “mystery” boxes first, that were clearly not blades, chassis’, or disks. And boy, what a way to start the proceedings – contained within the 2 boxes was no less than a full Terabyte of 4GB DIMMs.

Jackpot! After several unnsuccessful attempts at stacking them house of cards style, that impatience I was talking about earlier got to us and we debated which layout would be more impressive – end to end from one end of the lab to the other, a domino arrangement, or some other kind of tower. Given we only had phone cameras on us, we went for a more traditional “tower” approach that sacrificed the impressiveness of a chest-high tower for a lower one with structural stability.

Terabyte Tower! However even that proved too ambitious, and the only shot we could get was during the final stages of construction as the tower only stood freely for a nanosecond before swayng uncontrollably and coming down. And for the record, as I was kneeling right next to it, the RAM wasn’t unduly shaken or sent straight to the floor. I caught all the bits that fell. Seriously. I have ninja catching skills.

A few hours later everything had been assembled and racked, ready for the cable oompaloompas to do their thing. The lab manager was looking and sounding decidedly healthier too, which is good because our engineering lab is fucking huge and there’s no way I would want to maintain it.

And so begins the path of the internal cloud. I’m stoked to be co-leading the technical / design charge with the guy who took the photos, and will hopefully be able to start a new series of posts covering the trials and tribulations of designing and building the internal cloud at one of the largest global investment banks. On VMware vSphere 4, of course :-). Stay tuned!

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5 Responses to “Ever Wondered What A Terabyte of RAM Looked Like?”

  1. Rob Says:

    This has to be the first and only blog posting I’ve read that used the word “oompaloompa” – a terabyte of bonus points to you for that.

  2. Hany Michael Says:

    Can’t wait to see the updates of this cool project!

  3. Craig Says:

    Poor Tony – I hope you bought him a beer (with some of your Ninja money…)

  4. Hugo Says:

    My lab is bigger than your lab!

    http://vmwire.blogspot.com/2009/05/my-lab-is-bigger-than-your-lab.html

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