SearchSystemsChannel.com: What kind of blade server advancements can channel professionals expect in the future?
Barb Goldworm: There are a couple of interesting areas. At the component level, there are improvements going on at the chip-level from Intel and AMD like quad-core and beyond. Virtualization assist is now happening at the hardware level, which is making the next level up -- the server virtualization software -- run substantially faster. We are also seeing continuing improvements in the power and cooling efficiencies and capabilities. When you start packing this much density into a smaller footprint, you have to address the heat output. The newer generations of blades systems have improved substantially, to the point where a blade server generates less heat and is more efficient from a power-utilization standpoint than its counterpart rack server. But when you pack them into a small footprint, the power and cooling requirements for that footprint are greater. We've seen a tremendous improvement in both power utilization and cooling capabilities. And we continue to see significant enhancements.
There are interesting things going on with virtualization inside the blade chassis. There are a number of innovative vendors in the blade space that did this early on, like Egenera. Recently, HP announced a product called Virtual Connect, which is virtual IO inside a blade system. We are just seeing the beginnings of that in the channel. There are a lot of really interesting things happening in the virtualized IO space, coming from the chip and hardware platform vendors, and being utilized by the virtualization software vendors. We're going to talk about all of this at the conference.
There's another interesting place where server virtualization and blades intersect: People who want alternative ways to deliver desktops to their end users. If I'm running in a traditional environment, I have servers running on the backend and I have users running PCs in the front. They have old hardware. They are trying to figure out what to do next. They are looking at Windows Vista and saying, 'Do I need to do that; what kind of hardware will I need?' One of the interesting areas in which these things come together is the whole virtual desktop infrastructure. This allows someone to leverage the server virtualization software and a blade backend infrastructure, along with some of the things that Citrix and Microsoft have been doing with terminal services to create an architecture or an infrastructure that lets you deliver what the end user needs, whether it's a physical box, a virtual desktop, or a shared set of applications. At the conference, there will be a variety of sessions on virtual desktops and virtual infrastructure. We've got folks from IBM, VMware, Citrix and Microsoft talking about it.
From a channel perspective, it will be important to understand what these technologies are, how they fit together and what it means in terms of options to offer end users as they look at next-generation desktop delivery. It raises questions such as, should I be upgrading everybody to hardware that runs Vista, or does that apply to some portion of the user base? Maybe some of them should be on PC blades? Some of them should be running virtual clients that are running on some backend set of blade servers. Should some of them be running Citrix terminal services applications? How do I figure out which users should do what? It becomes a much more strategic view. The channel will have a lot of opportunity to look at this as they deliver out to the community and help users understand their options.
10 tips in 10 minutes from Barb Goldworm
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.