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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
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Server Technology Hits A Crossroads
Infrastructure costs for a rack solution, according to Gromala, start with the physical racks, and networking switches. "Plus you have to allocate a room, and typically need specialized power brought in, possibly including a PDU (Power Distribution Unit), and specialized cooling."

Also, according to Gromala, blade environments are less complicated. For a system with 16 servers to support a typical virtualized environment, the networking for a rack solution would require around 215 adapters, switches and cables and other components, while a blade solution from HP could be done with a pair of HP Virtual Connect Flex modules.

For example, a c3000 chassis with 1GB networking and a single server costs a few thousand to deploy, according to Gromala. In general, Gromala said, factoring in all the pieces required to deploy a rack, including some of the power savings, HP blade-and-chasses solutions cost roughly 40% less than a rack solution.

(Try HP's interactive online Rack-Mounted to BladeSystem TCO Analysis Calculator for a comparison.)

Another advantage that blade solutions can offer over rack solutions -- depending on the computing workload and the company's office environment -- is not requiring special facilities. A c3000 enclosure can run with regular office power and air conditioning -- however, Gromala noted, under heavier workloads, the system might be too noisy.

Overall, according to HP, blade enclosures reduce the cost to run and maintain an IT hardware infrastructure; let upgrades and additions be done much more quickly and easily -- which makes it easier for IT to provision for new requirements or opportunities; and use less power and cooling, which controls cost and also reduces the likelihood of needing more power than a site has available.

According to the IDC report, "HP maintained the number 1 spot in the server blade market in 2Q10, with 55.8% revenue share, and IBM finished with 24.2% revenue share."

For a small-to-midsize business, where IT money, time and space are always at a premium, but where the ability to increase IT server and storage capabilities quickly and easily is valuable, that makes blades, and blade enclosures, well worth looking into.

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