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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.

Server Technology Hits A Crossroads
(click image for larger view)
Server Technology Hits A Crossroads
Subsequently, if more processing or storage is needed, to support additional users, a higher workload, or additional applications, such as medical or dental office environments, additional server blades can simply be slid into the available slots, versus bringing in an additional tower, or having to connect a new rack server to power, storage, networking, and management components.

According to Jed Scaramella, research manager, Enterprise Servers at IDC in an August 2010 report, "Blade adoption continued to gain momentum in the second quarter of 2010, as blades accounted for its largest portion of total server revenue since the form-factor came to market."

Blades are also well suited to server virtualization, said Gromala. Virtualization lets one server blade act like it is several physical servers each dedicated to a specific application. "Virtualization needs a balanced architecture of I/O and memory. Blades' I/O capability is well-suited for virtualization. And blades are good for SAN storage, which many medium size businesses use, consolidating the storage and processing.

HP's c3000 can use "low-line" outlets (like 110 volts), and can be used in rooms with limited air conditioning. This makes it a good match for SMBs that do not have a data center or dedicated computer room.

"There aren't any applications that can be run on rack servers that can't be run on blade servers," stated Gromala. "From a compute density perspective -- more of interest to high-end enterprises than to SMBs -- I can get more density from blades than racks. We crossed that recently with server blades that can have up to one terabyte of memory. Some of the more rich compute configurations can be deployed on blades as well."

Blade solutions can be significantly less expensive than rack solutions, according to HP. "The basic cost for blade servers and rack servers are about the same," said Gromala. "The big difference is in the infrastructure. Many people just compare the cost of servers, and don't consider the rest of the costs."

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