Data centers are changing, and blade servers are bringing new efficiencies and flexibility to them.

Andrew Conry Murray, Director of Content & Community, Interop

September 27, 2007

2 Min Read

In 2005 and 2006 we surveyed more than 500 IT professionals about their server strategies, including adoption of blade servers. Results show that conventional servers with four or fewer CPUs have been the platform of choice in both years, particularly for organizations with fewer than 100 servers. However, results also show a 10% increase in the use of blade servers in the 10 to 99 server category, which may indicate an increasing number of companies installing blade servers to test the suitability of that architecture for their data centers.

When asked what drives server initiatives in the enterprise, the top response in 2005 and 2006 was the need to replace aging systems. However, the three factors that showed the greatest growth were the need to cut power use, which rose 12 percentage points; a requirement for increased server density, which was up 10 points; and a demand for increased space savings, up 9 points.

In 2006, 35% of respondents had blade servers in operation, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2005. However, there was no change over the two surveys in the 22% of respondents that expressed plans for future blade server purchases.

chart -- Reasons for Implementation: If your organization is operating or plans to install blade servers, what is the main driver for doing so?

Blade server adoption may be hindered by several issues. Blades lack the flexibility of expansion card options for storage, networking, and other I/O compared with rack-mounted servers. This affects costs because there's no commodity market to drive down prices.

In addition, the most cost-effective way to use blades is to completely fill a chassis, which means a purchase commitment of seven to 16 servers--a more substantial capital outlay than buying individual rack-mounted servers. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say that budget cycles and initial investment requirements are the greatest barrier to blade adoption. That figure is nearly twice as high as the second-most cited barrier, heat dissipation.

That said, blade systems are very well suited for large-scale replacements, new data center construction, and other initiatives that require a large influx of hardware. Companies may hold off on blade server purchases until such an initiative is undertaken.

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The newest generation of blade servers increases computational capabilities and processor densities and offers greater space savings and energy efficiency compared with rack-mounted systems. These offerings will resonate with IT professionals as the data center evolves to become more efficient and flexible, and better able to meet the needs of rapidly changing businesses.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Conry Murray

Director of Content & Community, Interop

Drew is formerly editor of Network Computing and currently director of content and community for Interop.

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