The Blade Enclosure

Oct 19th, 2008
Much of the magic and savings delivered by blade computers is directly attributable to the engineering technologies incorporated into the blade enclosure.

The big thing in blade computing is the engineering technologies encompassed by the blade enclosure. This is what makes it all possible. Here are some of the support features that the blade enclosure delivers:

Unit Housing – Each blade enclosure is capable of providing housing for multiple blade servers.

Specialized Support – Blade enclosures provide housing and specialty support for specialized blade units e.g. compute, memory storage etc.

Utility Services – The blade enclosure is also responsible for the provisioning of redundant utility services such as electrical power and cooling for all units contained within each enclosure. Some implementations even use external power supplies shared among multiple blade enclosures for additional cost and space savings. Transformer related functionality is one aspect of power supply that does generate considerable excess thermal energy as a by-product and having this particular power supply function external to the blade does reduce the ambient temperature within each blade enclosure considerably thereby delivering additional energy consumption and fiscal savings.

Supporting Infrastructure – It is the job of the blade enclosure to provide infrastructure support such as communications, networking and various interconnects for all blade units housed within it and for blade enclosure-to-blade enclosure interoperability. This tends to be through the utilization of fiber optic networking technologies as they deliver the greatest performance, least excess thermal energy production and the greatest immunity to noise, Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and environmental aberrations. Fiber optic networking and communications technologies are also more resistant to interception than copper and RF technologies.

Physical Security – The blade enclosure provides the physical security for those elements housed within it. Compartmentalized accessibility means that to physically access any individual blade component one need not necessarily be granted automatic physical access to every other blade unit housed within each blade enclosure by default.

Platform Management – The enclosure also either links to an administrative unit or contains an administrator interface that allows for authorized authenticated administrative functionalities to be performed upon all units contained within each enclosure. In circumstances that require it; remote administration is also possible.

Blade Unit Manufacturer Variation - Different manufacturers do have different ideas of what should be included with each blade as well as what should or should not be provided with the blade enclosure. However, it is all of these elements in combination that make the blade computing platform.

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