A Steady March of New Blades

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A string of new blade server systems promises to hit new heights in processing capabilities, energy efficiency and ease of use, producing even more choices for enterprise users in what is turning into an increasingly crowded field.


The latest entry comes from Dell, which introduced the new PowerEdge M1000e rack enclosure that the company claims can be installed and operational within 15 minutes. The 10U rack can hold up to 16 half-height blades, including the M600 and M605 units outfitted with quad-core Xeon or Opterons. The M1000e will replace the outgoing M1955 enclosure, although it will use the same OpenManage toolkit.


IBM has added a new Power6 blade to its line-up, the JS22 Express, which matches a pair of the dual-core processors engineered with the Advanced Power Virtualization system to host up to 10 virtual servers per core. Unix users might be interested in the system's Live Partition Mobility feature that enables live migration of operating systems and applications among servers. And the EnergyScale system is said to cut power consumption by 30 percent.


Intel's latest contribution comes in the form of the Clear Bay platform that can accommodate six two-way server nodes running either dual- or quadcore Xeons, plus 14 disk drives, two storage control modules and two Ethernet switch modules. Based on the Server System Infrastructure Forum's Modular Server Specification, the system features standardized components, connectors and power supplies designed to both lower costs and ease installation. Key features include virtual storage mapping, integrated SAN connectivity and built-in diagnostics.


Blades may be all the rage now, but it helps to know that they are not the ideal solution for every environment. Among some of the lesser known problems discovered by Info-Tech include heat dissipation and poor air flow among densely packed racks, as well as inadequate power supplies. iSCSI users are also reporting problems booting operating systems from the SAN, particularly in mixed vendor environments.


Nevertheless, blade servers are likely to continue to march their way into the datacenter by virtue of the fact that they can deliver much-needed processing power within the same physical space currently occupied by standard-sized servers. Infrastructure issues can always be resolved, but as they say in real estate, "they aren't making any more land."