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Egenera Adds Opteron To Blade Line

To remain what it calls "system agnostic," Egenera says it will offer blades based on AMD's Opteron and Intel's Itanium processors.
With the promise of expanding capabilities and options for users of blade servers, Egenera Inc. on Monday announced availability of its next-generation virtualization platform, as well as plans to offer blades based on Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron and Intel's Itanium processors.

"We try to remain operating-system agnostic, as well as chipset agnostic," says Vern Brownell, founder and chief technology officer of Egenera. "Our mantra is simply about reducing the complexity of the data center."

Egenera, which has previously offered Xeon-based server blades, will begin offering two-way and four-way AMD Opteron-based blades later this month, and plans to begin offering Itanium-based blades in the second quarter, says Susan Davis, VP of product marketing and management.

Egenera customers will be able to mix-and-match Xeon-, Opteron-, and Itanium-based blades within an environment to meet specific application requirements, she says. "We've seen quite a bit of demand for Opteron, both from customers in financial services, as well as others, who have done some benchmarking and found that for particular applications they find the characteristics of Opteron are particularly well suited," Davis says.

The company on Monday also announced general availability of Release 4.0 of its BladeFrame system, with an enhanced graphical user interface, and the ability to dynamically change server characteristics, she says. Based on Egenera's Processing Area Network architecture, Release 4.0 will let customers modify the configuration of a running server on the fly, including the removal or changing of Ethernet ports, disks, and DVD drives. The new release also more tightly integrates the relationship between BladeFrame and VMware Inc.'s GSX Server virtual-machine technology, Davis says, enabling improved automatic failover of virtual machines.

Release 4.0 also will offer an enhanced graphical user interface, which will provide cleaner page views, and a graphical representation of system objects that will help hide complexity from users, Davis says.

Brownell declined to say how many server blades that Egenera has shipped, but said the company's customer base grew from 20 at the beginning of 2004, to about 80 by year's end. One of the newest customers is wholesale bank Commerzbank North America of New York city.

Commerzbank says it will standardize on the Egenera BladeFrame platform and migrate off Unix applications to Linux and Windows. Richard Arenaro, VP of information technology for Commerzbank, said in a statement, "The Egenera BladeFrame gives us the confidence to move our most important services to an open source, nonproprietary platform, and to repurpose resources on the fly."