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7/1/2008
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Dell Unveils Virtualization Tool For Blade Systems

The FlexAddress tool from Dell eliminates the need to reconfigure individual servers when swapping out an old or failing blade with a new one.

Dell on Tuesday introduced technology for virtualizing the input/output of its PowerEdge M-Series blade server systems.

The FlexAddress tool is enabled through a firmware-carrying secure digital card for the PowerEdge M1000e Chassis Management Controller. The card is similar in format to the flash memory card used in digital cameras and other portable devices. The CMC is a small module that handles some remote access and power control operations.

In general, the new hardware contains the Fibre Channel World Wide Name and Ethernet/iSCSI Media Access Control. The WWN is a unique identifier in a Fibre Channel storage network, and the MAC provides addressing and channel access control mechanisms that make it possible for networked hardware, or nodes, to communicate within a local area network.

The information contained in FlexAddress eliminates the need to reconfigure individual servers when swapping out an old or failing blade with a new one. Basically, the tool makes it possible to do networking and storage mapping at the chassis level, rather than at the individual blade level.

The Dell product is similar to Hewlett-Packard's Virtual Connect and IBM's Open Fabric Manager. Dell, however, has priced its product at $500 per chassis. Open Fabric Manager runs from $1,400 to $2,000 per chassis, and Virtual Connect is available for about $4,700. The disadvantage of the Dell product is that its rivals can connect to many more systems.

FlexAddress is controlled by Dell's Chassis Management Controller, so the new product doesn't need its own management layer. As a result, adding FlexAddress would not have an impact on network management tools within a data center, Dell said.

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