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Virtualization and blade servers: Pros and cons

What do you think about blade servers and virtualization as an Enterprise option?

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Server virtualization technology combined with blade server technology is a very compelling scenario. Virtual server technology consolidates many physical machines onto one physical machine and blade technology makes managing many physical machines almost as easy as managing one physical machine. Blades share interconnects, power supplies, and storage. This simplifies the data center by cutting down on cable clutter and management overhead associated with multiple physical non-blade servers.

So, one could provision virtual machines and physical machines in the same blade chassis. This creates a very flexible environment. The best part is that the infrastructure would be standardized on a particular hardware and the same management tools could be used to manage the blades.

However, there are some considerations to make with blade servers. They require excellent power and cooling since there is so much computing power in a small space. Also, the initial blade enclosure purchase may be cost prohibitive for many small to medium businesses. You should carefully consider whether to invest in blade technology. If you forecast the need for several virtual server host machines and have a SAN, blade technology might be the best route to take for future expansion. However, if you will just be consolidating a few file servers and you do not expect tremendous processing growth in the future, you may be fine using virtualization technology on regular servers.

This was first published in July 2007

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