Blade server candidates

Blade servers are not for every IT environment. Author Barb Goldworm identifies ideal blade server candidates.

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SearchSystemsChannel.com: Where are blade servers a good fit? Or, what kind of shop is the ideal blade server candidate?

Barb Goldworm: If you have a geographic location that has one physical server, blades are not a good candidate. Blades by their design go into a chassis and to implement blades you first need to buy the chassis. You then populate the chassis with some number of blades. If all I have is one server, it costs more to deliver the chassis and put one blade in because I have to spread out the cost of that chassis across multiple blades. In general if you are running less than five servers in one location, it is probably not cost effective to go to a blade architecture.

If you have more than five servers in a location, it's worth taking a look at blades for the high density and modularity benefits we've already discussed. In addition to enterprise data centers, there are some nice things about blades in an SMB environment, particularly if you have similar remote offices. I can configure a chassis to have some number of blades in it, running a variety of servers: Web servers, application servers, email servers and database servers, for example. I can put all of those inside my blade chassis and have it as a preconfigured mix. I might have that in different branch offices and make them identical. IBM sells these types of offerings as "retail center in a box," or "data center in a box," or "branch banking in a box."

Also, remote locations with no IT staff can be a good fit for blades because of their strength in remote lights-out management capabilities. Blade manageability was designed from the outset to be a part of blade server systems. There are redundant management modules designed as a part of the blade chassis, for out-of-band management: Let's say I'm running a number of blades and my operating system crashes on one blade. I can still get to that blade, even though the OS is down. I can do everything to that blade system remotely that I can locally, except for physically popping out the blade. I can power them on and off; I can reconfigure them; I can do my operating system-level maintenance on top of that. They are well suited for remote management: disaster recovery, availability, failover and anything else that could go wrong. Because of the modularity, someone who is not an IT professional can look at the lights that are flashing or not flashing on the display, pop out a blade, pop in another blade, stick the broken blade in a Fed-Ex box and ship it off.



10 tips in 10 minutes from Barb Goldworm

 Home: Introduction
 1: Blade server and virtualization benefits
 2: Ideal blade server candidates
 3: How to sell blade servers
 4: Blade server and virtualization misconceptions
 5: Preparing to deploy blade servers and virtualization
 6: Server virtualization channel impact
 7: Future of blade servers and virtualization
 8: Blade server and virtualization consulting
 9: Server Blade Summit must-attend sessions
 10: Blade server and virtualization resources

About Barb Goldworm: Barb Goldworm is founder, president and chief analyst of Focus Consulting and author of the book Blade Servers and Virtualization. She has spent over 30 years in systems and storage in various senior management, marketing, sales, technical and industry analyst positions with IBM, StorageTek, Novell, Enterprise Management Associates and several successful startup ventures. A frequent speaker at industry events, she also created and chaired Interop's Networked Storage Track. More recently, she was one of the top three ranked analyst/knowledge expert speakers at SNW and has been a regular expert speaker for TechTarget and Ziff-Davis E-seminars. She also chairs the Server Blade Summit on Blades and Virtualization.

This was first published in March 2007

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