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Blade Summit update: Power, cooling hot issues; virtual desktops hot topic

In this quick Q&A, analyst and blade server columnist Barb Goldworm offers her views on the news from vendors and users at last week’s Server Blade Summit, which she chaired.

 SSV: How big a deterrent to buying blade servers is power and cooling, based on your observations at the Summit? What cool things are being done about it?

Goldworm: Power and cooling and space are issues for most users, even in trying to expand their rack-n-stacks. Many of them were there because they know they have to do SOMETHING, because they can’t go on like they are. Often there is a list of easy (and not expensive) steps which can be taken, before going to more drastic measures (like liquid cooling). Planning help is available from folks like Eaton and APC, as well as HP and IBM, and others. Advances in hardware and software are continuing to come, with smarter power management, shutting down unneeded processors based on utilization, etc. Processing power per watt is continuing to improve.

SSV: Were virtual desktops — via appliance virtualization, VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and other models — hotter than you thought, in terms of interest?

We expected virtual desktops to be a hot topic and it was. As people get more comfortable with server virtualization, and start looking at Vista on desktops, virtualization for the desktop and applications are becoming a serious topic. I view this area as a continuum, with different approaches offering benefits for different use cases (from VDI to Citrix to the new IBM workstation blade).  I think we’re hitting the tip of the iceberg here.

It’s hot and users are struggling to understand how it all fits together.

SSV: Looking back at the Summit, what are your overall impressions about the state of blades and virtualization after the Summit?

Goldworm: People have been hearing more about blades for the past year or two, often with a lot of warnings. Many came to the summit looking to get a better understanding of the benefits and the “gotcha’s” and were pleasantly surprised with the progress made in the past year, particularly relative to virtualization. Many of the customers we spoke with were very excited about the benefits that blades and virtualization could bring them, and many seemed to be hearing up-to-date information for the first time (including from their own vendors like IBM, HP and VMware).

As users and channel partners are getting more educated, we will see more and more of the marriage between blades and virtualization.

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