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HP Introduces Blade For Hosting Virtual Machines

HP's Proliant BL495c G5 will host up to 32 virtual machines, based on each virtual machine needing a minimum of four Gigabytes of memory.

HP introduced Tuesday the Proliant BL495c G5, the first blade designed to be a virtual machine-intensive host in a data center rack, along with other virtualization products to enhance the offerings of VMware and Citrix Systems.

As system administrators achieve savings by consolidating 8-10 virtual machines per server, HP is saying its new blade will host up to 32 virtual machines, based on each virtual machine needing a minimum of four Gigabytes of memory. When 16 of the blades are stacked in an HP C7000 enclosure, a total of 512 virtual machines can be run from a single rack, said Jim Ganthier, director of HP BladeSystem, its blade server division.

Instead of boosting blade CPU power, the HP BL495C doubles memory to 128 Gigabytes and network connections to eight network interface cards on an otherwise standard two-way blade server. Each virtual machine on a server tends to increase the demand for memory and network connections, so server consolidation tends to load existing server designs with traffic bottlenecks.

The BL495C server uses two AMD, quad-core Opteron 2300 processors. It has a starting price of $2,449.

But the HP design specializes the blade to also use two solid state drives, its first blade to do so. The solid state drives use two watts of power to hold data and make it available to the virtual machines on the server.

The virtual machine-oriented design includes the option of using a local console for building a rack of virtual machines on blade servers instead of being required to tie the rack into a more centralized management console. The Proliant Virtual Console can be used by IT administrators to configure desktops working with Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor, VMware's ESXi hypervisor or Citrix Systems XenDesktop virtual machines.

The Proliant Virtual Console doesn't replace centralized management systems; it complements them by giving IT administers "more granular control" over a rack of blade servers to get a large number virtual machines up and running. Some users could be assigned more memory, others, more CPU, through the console, said Doug Strain, virtualization manager from HP's Insight software division.

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