SearchSystemsChannel.com: Can you briefly describe the steps involved with preparing for a blade server and/or virtualization deployment? Or, how should channel professionals prepare to take on such a project?
Barb Goldworm: If your users have already made a decision on a hardware vendor then they don't have to go through a bake-off process. However, a lot of users are reexamining those relationships and looking at alternatives -- and then doing a bake-off is a good idea. We have talked to a number of users who have brought in blade servers from multiple vendors and run them through a bake-off process. I highly suggest that if you are considering server virtualization, that you run your tests using server virtualization software. It essentially becomes the operating system level functionality -- the kernel that's running on the hardware. I suggest to people if you are running a bake-off, and you know you are going to be running VMware with guest operating systems underneath it, then do it running VMware with those guests.
As you do that, it's important to consider things like power efficiencies and power and cooling savings over rack servers, and power and cooling issues comparing vendors. Modularity and architectural specifics between different blades systems should also be considered.
One of the interesting trends is that a lot of folks are starting to implement blade servers with no local storage. There is a very high attach rate of blades servers to storage area networks (SANs) -- 70 to 75% -- higher than the attach rates for rack servers to SANs. Because of the way the blades are architected, you have the option of going diskless (not using local storage). You can also have storage blades within the chassis. You can attach to SANs, you can attach to network-attached storage (NAS). You have a variety of options and there are different reasons to look at diskless or stateless blade implementation and/or storage blades. The reasons to go diskless have to do with provisioning capabilities, flexibility and manageability. If I have no disk on that blade, it becomes more replaceable. If that blade fails I can very easily go to another blade and I don't have to worry about having access to the right storage. People should consider what things the blade architecture offers users in their shop; see what advantages blades might give me in each user environment. HP just released a storage blade that allows you to have local storage, but a lot more of it. All blades have the ability to connect to SANs and NAS and have the ability to boot from the SAN and completely eliminate local storage.
For people who are deploying a blade-server environment as a consolidation project, it's very clear that virtualization and blades together are very strong components for any consolidation project. When you are consolidating and virtualizing, the first question is which workloads should be virtualized and which should not. Secondly, which ones should be virtualized together; it's important to understand the workload mix. There are a number of vendors who are working with channel partners to deliver services to help users through this planning. There are opportunities for channel partners who want to deliver those services, and channel partners who are working with their vendor partners to fill services that those vendors are providing directly. The benefits of consolidating with both technologies across the data center are significant. The ROI and TCO numbers and savings potential are phenomenal. The channel has a tremendous opportunity here.
10 blade server 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. 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.