What are Blade Servers?

Oct 19th, 2008
Blade servers are highly-specialized self-contained computer servers, designed for high density plug ‘n’ play implementations where future expansion, serviceability, versatility, scalability and flexibility are considered to be priorities

Distributed centralized specialization and resource rationalization are the fundamental tenets of the blade computing model. This means that blade enclosures can be deployed in geographically dispersed locations to provide an organization with a distributed specialized central processing and servicing functionality less prone to organization-wide single-point-of-failure scenarios.

The Blade Computing Model

Unlike stand alone servers, rack mounted servers and traditional clustered servers the blade computing model uses more specialized units dedicated to performing fewer more specialized computing functions and processes at ever faster speeds. To this end; many blades ship minus various combinations of different hardware and support systems normally found in computers removed. Often it is left to the blade chassis/enclosure to provide many of these integral functions rather than having each individual blade component type do them. In other instances other specialized blade units will be dedicated to these “missing” functionalities.

Blade Specialization

Many traditional computer subsystems that were once massively duplicated and hence underutilized in the more traditional server and computing models are not found in the same massive numbers in the blade computing scenario. This has resulted in blades that are specialized for processing, network, storage, Input / Output (I/O) and memory subsystems. “A blade for every function” is the phrase that comes to mind.

If you need more processing power then add a blade that is loaded with multiple multi-core CPUs and oh-la-la, more processing power to brag about is yours. Similarly; if it’s more memory for those graphics rendering intensive applications that you require, then add a memory blade. You can even get “general purpose” blades.

Task and component specialization and purpose-driven blade design are but two of the ways that blade computing provides greater economic rationalization and more efficient use of computing resources within the blade system.

Space and Energy Savings

Smaller Footprint

The idea behind this is that removing many of these over-duplicated under-utilized components saves considerable space. In addition; the removal of considerable numbers of power supply units (PSU) from each individual server unit not only saves considerable space it also reduces the overall excess thermal energy produced during normal and stress level operating conditions. The less floor space occupied by your data center, communications and computing infrastructure the less cooling it requires and the less rent you have to pay.

Greener Computing

Everyone who has put their hand at the back of their PC is only too well aware of the amount of heat that the PSU generates. Reducing the amount of excess (waste) thermal energy produced as a by-product of computing means substantial reductions and savings can be made in the day-to-day running costs of computing facilities. It also means that computing facilities can develop more efficient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly cooling solutions. No surprise for guessing that these measures also serve to deliver the “green points” or the carbon production reduction contributions that companies are now being asked for by government, environmentalists and the general public alike.

Replacing Failure Prone Power Supply Units (PSU)

Factor in the fact that the PSU is the most common component of all computers to fail and you see the sense in replacing thirty or forty cheaper PSUs with two to four more robust and reliable units. In the big picture perspective; this actually is cheaper than the former multiplicity of PSUs solution.

Through the wholesale removal and replacement of older technology PSUs with dedicated leads from DC units of superior performing, less failure-prone, higher quality redundant sets of PSUs blade computing can indeed deliver considerable additional energy and accrued downtime loss savings. Bear in mind that over the years we have found that; statistically speaking, PSU issues constitute nearly 75% of all IT service-related site visits. Because; datacenter downtime is the most expensive of all outage types experienced by enterprise today, reductions in this area deliver considerable fiscal savings.

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