Blades have cutting edge
about Blade Servers and the question you're likely to be asked is: "Are
blades ready for prime computing?" Blade server vendors certainly seem
to think so. Hewlett Packard for instance, says blades are faster to deploy
and, coupled with the right tools, are easier to manage.
"Applications require more power and so enterprises
are looking at more processing power at the same price points. It is important
to provide the customer enough headroom to grow and yet protect the investment,"
said Arun Natarajan, Product Manager, Industry Standard Servers, Asia Pacific,
The space saving and low power consumption factors make
blades ideal for data centers, especially in areas where space is a limitation.
But CIOs are more concerned about factors like acquisition costs, ease of management,
time to deploy, server re-purposing, and TCO.
With these parameters in mind, HP did a comparative study
of traditional 1U servers and blade servers.
In terms of acquisition costs, HP claims its Proliant p-class
blades offer savings of 22 percent on Linux and 26 percent on Windows.
"Without a SAN connection, you'll start seeing savings
with blades for 20 servers or more. If a customer requires a SAN you'll start
seeing benefits for five or more blade servers," said Natarajan.
Cable clutter and cable problems are also serious concerns.
Typically, a rack of 40 1U traditional servers has 240 cables protruding from
the back. That includes KVM, power cords and LAN cables. "With our blades
system complemented by the Integrated Lights Out (ILO) management solution,
there are just 14 cablesthat's a 93 percent reduction," said Natarajan.
That's 5 x 2 network cables plus 4 power cables (the KVM is eliminated).
In locations where real estate prices are high, data center
space becomes a critical issue. To put this in measurable terms, HP considered
density within a 42U rack. According to HP, a 42U rack would typically accommodate
30 - 36 1U servers. That's because the switches are also fitted in the same
rack. HP claims it can fit 48 - 96 blade servers (depending on the model selected)
in a 42U rack. That's 25 - 60 percent saving in space.
Explaining this arrangement, Natarajan said, there are
eight blades per 6U enclosure along with the integrated Ethernet switches (in
two slots). In a 42U rack (six feet high) you can have two power enclosures
and six blade enclosures. That gives 6 x 8 bladesthat's 48 blades in a
Apart from space savings, the other major benefit is power
savingswhich also means less heat generation. According to HP, 40 traditional
1U servers need 16.6 kW, whereas the same number of blades would draw 12.1 kW.
That's 27 percent in power savings.
Other concern areas are server installation, provisioning,
and re-purposing. With ProLiant Essentials, a suite of server management and
deployment tools, installation time is just 10 - 30 mins per blade. It takes
eight hours to deploy a traditional 1U server. In comparison, that's a 94 percent
to 98 percent reduction.