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Blade Servers Offer Lower Cost, Reduced Complexity

Blade servers can be a cost-effective alternative to rack-based IT gear, according to HP's John Gromala, and offer a growth path from towers.

HP c3000 Blade Server
(click image for larger view)
HP c3000 Blade Server
If your company is outgrowing or ready to refresh a collection of tower servers, but is offset by the price and the management complexities of moving to a rack, there's another option, according to John Gromala, director of product marketing, HP Industry Standard Servers and Software at HP: blade-based solutions.

For small to midsize businesses, on-premises IT infrastructure -- servers, networking, and storage -- must balance current cost with room and flexibility to handle more employees, applications, and business activity. Traditional tower servers are straightforward and highly affordable, but won't grow or scale well; rack-based IT gear can grow, but can be expensive, and can require IT time to add new servers.

According to John Gromala, director of product marketing, HP Industry Standard Servers and Software at HP, depending on the size and scope of a company's IT requirements, there's a third option which can be most affordable and flexible: blade-based solutions.

A blade-based solution consists of a blade enclosure, also known as a chassis, and one or more blades. The chassis includes power supplies, fans, internetworking, management, and can also include storage and other shared resources. The blades can be servers, or storage. HP's BladeSystem c3000 can hold up to 4 full-height or 8 half-height blades, and HP's c7000 Enclosure can hold up to 8 full-height or 16 half-height blades.

According to Gromala, blade solutions can offer IT and business benefits important to SMBs including:

-- Easy to install, easy to upgrade capacity as IT requirements grow

-- Function in office environments, no special data center or computer room required

-- Lower TCO, lower energy use than rack solutions.

"A blade system can provide an 'IT infrastructure in a box,'" said Gromala. "It can be more easily deployed than a rack, and can grow easily -- you just buy and insert another blade module. The modular infrastructure of a blade system lets customers pick what they need to match their requirements."

For example, according to Gromala, a company could start with a chassis containing two, three or four server blades to handle existing server applications like Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory, file and print serving, CRM, and an intranet.

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