CrossNodes Briefing: Blade Servers - Page 2

By Gerald Williams | Posted Feb 4, 2002
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More servers and more disk storage do not necessarily translate to more efficiency. IT managers who oversee several servers in a group must guard against overloading the disk drives. This is especially true if the data is not distributed across several servers. Blade servers, like most server technology, do not directly address this problem. Some networks, however, now use Storage Area Networks (SANs) to enhance performance, and IT managers will need to verify that such options exist before they move to blade servers.

Reliability remains a determining factor in any network's success. IT managers considering blade servers need to determine whether the equipment's software supports failover capabilities and redundant components. Many blade servers come with dual power supplies and hot-swappable components. In addition, some allow technicians to isolate a single processor blade and reboot that card without affecting other blade servers. These types of capabilities become critical when managers consolidate the entire computing center.

As an emerging technology implementation, blade server vendors currently limit support to Linux or Unix based operating systems. For most large companies, this may not present a problem. For those companies that run Microsoft Windows on their servers, however, it represents a conversion and a learning curve. Nearly all the vendors plan to support Windows in the near future, but the current lack of support may force some IT managers to postpone a decision.

In addition, the vendors who pioneered blade server technology were new companies. Several of those companies now struggle as Hewlett-Packard and Compaq responded quickly, and IBM announced future plans that, if implemented would take blade server technology to a new level. Most of the other, established vendors will follow and release versions of blade servers over the course of the next year. IT managers, if they choose to implement the technology now, must ensure that the vendor is financially sound and able to continue competing in the market. Such key areas as support and the companies' ability to continue innovating as the market attracts larger and stronger vendors must be considered.

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