The edge for data centers

XXXSPLITXXX-XXXSPLITXXX-1. What applications will you move to blade servers?2. Do the applications require 32-bit or 64-bit chips? Do they require x86, UltraSparc, Itanium, IBM Power, Cube or other processors?3. How much memory do the applications require?4. How much storage do you require? Is local storage necessary, either to boot the server or store locally?5. What network connections do the blades require?6. Can these applications run multithreaded for virtualization? If so, ask about virtualization features of hardware and software. 7. Is it important to access other servers within the same enclosure? If so, input/output connections in the enclosure will be important. 8. What power constraints does your agency have? Ask vendors about power and cooling needs of any configuration. 9. How much server consolidation are you aiming for? The more blades an enclosure can hold, the more space you can save. 10. Do you need to consolidate multiple platforms? If so, look for enclosures that can accept blades with a variety of processors. 11. Is disaster recovery important? This will involve multiple, geographically separated servers and possibly remote mass storage. 12. Is integration with existing systems necessary? If so, try to select blade servers compatible with existing systems. This can mean blade servers from the same vendors or blade servers operating under an open architecture that can include the existing systems.

HALF AGAIN: Hewlett-Packard's C7000 models hold 16 half-height blades, adding another dimension to consolidation.

Hewlett-Packard

So you want to consolidate your data center, lower its power
bills, reduce cooling needs, boost utilization rates and simplify
server management? And get rid of some of those cables snaking all
over the floor? Those are increasingly common goals among agencies.
And blade servers are an increasingly popular means of reaching
them.


A blade server is a single circuit board that contains the
minimum necessary components for computer processing '
processors, memory, network connections, storage interface and
possibly hard drives ' without extraneous elements such as a
monitor or keyboard. You slide blades into a blade enclosure, a
specially designed cabinet that provides electrical power, cooling
and connections to the blades.


Blade servers are ideal for specific purposes, such as file
sharing, Web hosting, e-mail and print serving, and even heavy-duty
computation such as forecasting. SGI has created several
blade-based supercomputers ' sporting thousands of
processors, terabytes of memory and cable-free enclosures '
on its Altix ICE platform. However, experts say, blades are not
well-suited for general-purpose computing or very large transaction
processing.


Easy management


Manageability and flexibility are also important aspects of
blade servers' appeal. For Luigi Canali, project manager of
the Content Management System (CMS) project at the Bureau of
International Information Programs, the main advantage of blade
servers is their flexibility. CMS handles content management, Web
hosting, search, security, continuity-of-operations, training,
support and Web reporting tools for embassies and the State
Department. As a result, the bureau's CMS hosts more than 100
public Web sites and associated digital products in more than 140
countries.


'It's easier to manage 10 blades in one box than 10
boxes,' Canali said.


The comparative ease of managing blade servers is one of the
major paybacks of the technology, said Joe Clabby, president of
consulting firm Clabby Analytics. 'Blades are easier to
manage, requiring fewer people in a smaller area.'


Most people are familiar with tower servers, where each server
is in a separate box, and rack servers, where each server is in a
separate horizontal slot in a rack. In a standard rack-mount
configuration, one rack unit (1U) is 19 inches wide and 1.75 inches
tall. This is the minimum possible size of any rack-mount
equipment. The most common computer rack is 42U high, which limits
the number of rack servers to 42. Blades are not so restricted: As
many as 84 can fit in the same space.


In a tower or rack arrangement, each server has its own power
supply, storage, input/output and other components. Because blades
forgo certain elements of tower servers and rack servers, including
monitors and keyboards, and share others, such as power supplies
and fans, they are cheaper. In addition, server blades are smaller,
more cost-efficient and consume less power than traditional tower
or rack servers.


What's more, blade servers have fewer points of failure
than towers or rack systems.


Putting it together


Despite their relative simplicity, there's a lot to
consider in configuring blade servers.


For starters, many different processor types are available on
blades, including those from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices with
x86 architecture, Sun Microsystems' UltraSparc, Intel
Itanium, IBM Power and the graphics-oriented Sony-Toshiba-IBM Cell
Broadband Engine chip. Some blade enclosures also offer slots for
multiple processors. And newer blades can take advantage of
multi-core chips, such as the quad cores available from Intel and
AMD. The Sun Blade X8420, which costs $10,615, can handle four
quad-core processors, for instance.


Other examples of the variety offered by blade vendors include
Fujitsu's Primergy BX600 line, starting at about $1,948, with
quad-core x86 chips from Intel or AMD. Sun's Blade Modular
System supports UltraSparc, AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon processors.
HP offers AMD and Intel x86 processors in addition to Intel
Itanium. And IBM has AMD, Power and Cell Broadband Engine
chips.


Memory is another critical consideration.


Some high-end blades, including the Sun and HP lines, offer as
much as 64G of memory, equal to larger stand-alone servers and
enough to satisfy the most insatiable chip. Having many memory
slots on a blade improves flexibility.


Some Sun blades allow 16 DIMMs. If you need only 8G of memory on
that blade, you can buy comparatively inexpensive 1G DIMMs. But you
also have the option to add higher-priced 4G DIMMs to max out your
RAM.


Next, don't overlook connectivity. Blade connections to
storage or networks can be ordinary wire ' often called
copper for clarity ' or fiber-optic cable. The input/output
architecture is perhaps of greater importance. 'Blade vendors
typically use a proprietary [input/output] architecture,'
said Mike McNerney, director of the blade server product line at
Sun, which uses industry standard PCI SIG modules, such as PCI
Express.


Blades can also include hard drives, which allow the blade to
boot independently of outside storage and store data locally. The
downside is that local hard drives take up space ' so blades
with drives can't be so close together ' and require
more power and cooling. Blades without hard drives can boot from
outside storage, such as storage-area networks.


If you're considering blades, pay attention to the
enclosures, which are a lot more than metal boxes. They are
essential to the operation of the blades, and the design of the
enclosure is at least as complex as the design of the blades.


For example, the enclosure must provide power ' usually
redundant ' and the complex connections to interface with
networks, storage and other blade enclosures.


Enclosures also remove heat, most of which originates with the
processors. Usually, high-speed fans cool the blades by moving warm
air out of the enclosure. For example, Hewlett- Packard's
enclosures can include 10 Active Cool fans. SGI goes a step
further, with water-cooled doors in its Altix ICE systems.


Hidden benefits


Blade systems offer other management advantages. Installing and
maintaining them is simpler than dealing with tower or rack-mount
systems. The enclosures often intelligently tend the needs of their
blades, so there is less monitoring for managers to do.


Management software allows remote, hands-off administration of
large farms of servers.


Also, virtualizing blades ' running multiple logical
threads on one physical blade ' allows them to use processing
power and memory efficiently. Multiple applications can run on a
single blade, yielding the utilization rates that warm information
technology managers' hearts. 'Managers are used to
tower servers with 20 percent utilization,' Clabby said.
'With blade virtualization, they're seeing 75 to 85
percent utilization.'


Energy efficiency is also becoming more important to government
agencies. 'Blade servers can save one-third of the power of a
standalone server,' said Mitch Barcellos, BCS server
specialist at Hewlett-Packard. For example, Dell's new
PowerEdge M-Series blades, starting at $1,849, are designed to
require lower power and cooling levels. SGI said its Altix ICE
energy-smart power architecture realizes more than 90 percent
efficiency on its power supply and as high as 87 percent efficiency
on the blades.


Some vendors, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, push
consolidation to another level by offering half-height blades and
enclosures.


HP's 10U C7000 enclosure holds 16 half-height blades, and
its 6U C3000 ' called Shorty ' accommodates eight
half-height blades. Dell's M1000e, starting at $5,999, also
holds 16 half-height blades in a 10U format.


Blade technology is new enough that there are no independent
standards for blade enclosures and design yet. This means it often
isn't possible to use one vendor's blades in another
vendor's enclosure. For now, it's probably safer to
obtain both from the same manufacturer.


DeJesus (exdejesus@gmail.com) is a freelance technology
writer
.



More information abut blade servers:



Avocent

http://www.avocent.com



Blade.org

http://www.blade.org



Blade Systems Alliance

http://www.bladesystems.org



Clabby Analytics

http://www.clabbyanalytics.com



Dell

http://www.dell.com



Hewlett-Packard

http://www.hp.com/go/bladesystem/evaluate



IBM

http://www.ibm.com/systems/bladecenter



Savvis

http://www.savvis.net



SGI

http://www.sgi.com



Sun Microsystems

http://www.sun.com/servers/blades/index.jsp



VMWare

http://www.vmware.com



Wikibon Project

http://wikibon.org/Blade_Servers

























X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.