Servers

Dell shows off new PowerEdge Blade Servers

Dell introduced the PowerEdge M-Series, which consists of a new 10U chassis that is able to support up to 16 half-height blades. Blades are built around either Intel or AMD processors, and full-height blades for the chassis will be offered later this year.
Dell introduced the PowerEdge M-Series, which consists of a new 10U chassis that is able to support up to 16 half-height blades. Blades are built around either Intel or AMD processors, and full-height blades for the chassis will be offered later this year.

Developed over two years, the PowerEdge M-Series server was the culmination of the "most extensive R&D program we've ever done," according to Rick Becker, vice president of solutions for Dell. The company says it has applied for more than 30 patents for this new product.

It is not hard to see why Dell would invest so many resources into its blade servers, because sales of blade servers are growing faster than the overall server market.

According to Forbes:

Sales of blade servers grew 13.8% in the third quarter of 2007, accounting for 10% of all server sales, according to tech tracker Gartner Group. Dell, with 10.8% of the worldwide server market trails both IBM, which has 33.7%, and Hewlett-Packard, with 25.3%.

The new M-Series blade servers are slated to ship this week. Prices for the M1000e blade enclosure starts at $5,999 with blades starting from $1,849.

Do you use blade servers in your company? What circumstances, in your opinion, would make a compelling reason to aggressively deploy blades?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

3 comments
paulmah
paulmah

Do you use blade servers in your company? What circumstances ? in your opinion, would make a compelling reason to aggressively deploy blades.

ToR24
ToR24

I've been using IBM and Dell blades for several years, and they are ideal in situations where space is critical, nests of wiring problematic and equipment disposal a concern. Blades save space, lots of it, while also minimizing the gob of wiring that normally accompanies servers. Computing hardware ages fast, and many useful components like power supplies, cooling fans, connectors and some external media devices are tossed onto the waste heap when their processors are no longer viable. Blade systems help to retain the use of many long-lived components. I have different models and submodels of blade servers coexisting in the same chassis and didn't need to acquire new power supplies, cases and cables. Blade systems also save power by consolidating some of these power hungry components like power supplies and fans into a redundant, fault-tolerant system. Similar to stand-alone server systems, if a power supply or fan fails in a ten or fourteen blade server chassis, there are others to pick up the load until a replacement can be acquired. The same is true for networking using multiple switches. If you have multiple chasses, your flexibility increases to easily move blades around to different locations in a very short time to accommodate special needs, aid in deployment, diagnose problems or recover from some kind of failure. After a certain break-even point, blades even become a comparatively cost-effective solution for dense, multiple server installations, where the number of machines or the segregation of organizational resources are of primary importance. I've been a big proponent of blade systems, but like everything there are downsides which need serious consideration. Noise: Blade chasses are loud. Fans are always loud, but blade chasses have lots of big noisy ones. Power: Chasses often require special power like 208V 20A per chassis, so your UPS also needs to be special. Cooling: Like any server system, adequate cooling must be part of any site planning. But the increased density is a lure to put these things into small, inadequately cooled spaces. Disk Space: They are limited in the number and size of disks that can be accommodated. External I/O: The systems are often lacking in dedicated external attachments like SCSI, USB and video. If any are available, they often must be shared. Remote access: Comfort in remotely managing servers and support systems is important, because working in front of the rack is uncomfortable, but in essence no more or less than any other large rack-based server system. Vendor commitment: The chassis decides the manufacturer from whom you will buy your future servers. Blade servers fill a unique niche by providing a high density, cost-effective, data processing solution. Investing in a blade system requires research; so take the time to seek out and visit other blade server installations to see if it's right for your organization. Ask vendors to introduce customer contacts. And remember to bring earplugs.

3kl
3kl

I've found that blades in general are an excellent fit for VMware implementations. You want the backend storage (SAN) for VMware as it is, so the blades provide much more bang for the buck and rack unit. I've been very excited about the Sun blades personally (especially their remote administration via ILOM.) I've worked with HP blades as well and they did have a good servers to footprint ratio. However, if I recall the HP's where much more expensive. Regardless of vendor, VMware on blades is almost a no brainer.

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