Scalability is limited and, as separate entities, the eight nodes have to be independently managed. However, as the basis of the recently announced Boston Cloud Appliance it could carve out a niche market of its own.
Eight servers in just 3U, Xeon E3-1200 (Sandy Bridge) processors, redundant power, hot-swap storage, available as a turnkey cloud appliance
Each node needs to be independently configured and managed, local storage is Sata only
£9,799 + VAT
Form factor: 3U rack-mount chassis
Power supply: 2 x 1620W redundant hot-plug power supplies
Drive bays: 16 x hot-swap 3.5/2.5in
Nodes: 8 x hot-swap server nodes
Processor Intel Xeon E3-1240 processor (quad-core, 3.3Gbit/s)
RAM: 16GB DDR3 unbuffered ECC RAM
1 x 1TB Sata hard disk
Interface: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet interfaces
Port: 1 x dedicated Ethernet port for IPMI remote management
The Boston Quattro 1332-T could easily be mistaken for a rack-mount storage array with its 16 hot-swap disk bays spread across the front.
Walk round the back, however, and you'll find eight plug-in server modules, each with its own processor, memory and network interfaces. This turns an otherwise ordinary looking box into a self-contained server farm, suitable for traditional datacentre deployment or as a cloud computing hub.
The hardware is from SuperMicro (Boston is the UK distributor), contained within a 3U rack-mount chassis. Power comes from dual, redundant hot-swap power supplies and there are four large hot-swappable fans that plug in from the top to keep the whole thing cool. It's not quiet, but then it's destined for life in a machine room not an open plan office.
The server nodes are hot-pluggable, each containing a very compact single-socket motherboard that can take any processor from the latest Intel Xeon E3-1200 (Sandy Bridge) series. Ours had a full complement of eight nodes, fitted, with a 3.3GHz quad-core E3-1240 processor plus 16GB of ECC protected memory per server, which is upgradeable to 32GB via four Dimm slots.
A master switch at the front is used to power the chassis up, and small on-off switches are located at the back to control each of the server nodes. The nodes plug into a passive backplane hidden deep inside the unit giving access to two of the disks in the front mounted bays. Ours were allocated just one each, Boston shipping 2TB Western Digital Sata drives for this purpose.
Unfortunately the storage is Sata only, with no option for SAS at present. That said, the Intel C204 chipset on the server motherboards does support the latest 6Gbit/s Sata technology and most customers will use local storage purely to hold the operating system, with shared data delivered over an iSCSI SAN.
One trap to avoid is thinking of the Quattro 1332-T as a kind of compact blade server, not least because the backplane is only there to link server nodes to their respective hard disks, not to consolidate access to the LAN or other interfaces.
Instead, networking is handled by two independent Gigabit ports located on each of the server modules, implemented using a small plug-in card which can be swapped for 10GbE if needed. Added to which it's possible to plug an adapter into the low profile PCI-E slot provided on each module to deliver Fibre Channel SAN connectivity, for example.