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Five cool reasons to use blade servers; one big caveat

Why use blade servers when your rack servers aren’t giving you any hassles? I met up with Craig Newell at the Server Blade Summit this week, and he gave some answers to that question. I’ve put them in the list below.

Newell has more field experience working with blades than anyone else I met at the summit. As U.S. Client Services Manager for Halian, Inc., — a U.K.-based global IT services organization –he has worked on blades implementations in banking, pharmaceutical, government and other types of businesses.

The top 5 reasons to use blade servers:
1. They’re tiny. Blades conserve data center floor space better than any other server option. If your floor space is at a premium, then check out blades.
2. They’re dense. Combined with virtualization, blades give you the most compute power per square inch of any server.
3. They’re easy to deploy. Today’s blade server toolsets allow for ease of server deployments. The cabling, power and much more are built into the chassis, so there’s less to do when you slip the box in its slot. Virtualize and speed of deployment increases more.
4. They’re a good fit for lab environments. “Blades and virtual servers provide great architectures for lab, testing, and development environments,” Newell said.
5. There will be no more snakes on your plane! Those cables roping around your data center will disappear, as blades have far fewer power and network cables.

Put all these uses and benefits together. Mix well. Then, watch TCO get TKOed. Typically, corporate processes significantly increase overall server deployment time, leaving you with lower overall total cost of ownership, even though upfront costs may be higher.

Here’s the big if, and and but:

Newell warns:

“Power and cooling concerns are real! The power consumption/square foot in a blade-based data center are significant…like 25,000 watts per chassis.”

So, do your homework, and evaluate cooling requirements and power consumption as a part of your overall cost for hardware deployment.

“Returns take numerous years due to the significant capital required within a data center environment,” Newell said. “Smaller environments may see faster returns.”

In other words, good things come to those who plan, deploy and wait.

Want more info on reasons to or not to use blades? Check out these links:
Why wed blade servers to virtualization?; Barb Goldworm’s guide to blades and virtualization; Former Morgan Stanley exec praises blades; and Blade servers dominate market by 2009.

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