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Are Blade Server all Hype?

There has been heas of articles on blade servers in the tech press.

Are these mainly hype or are blade server essentially the same as rack mounted servers?

I have not read any articles on benchmarks etc - but I would not probably understand them anyway :)

Flip Flop
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I think it is all about size. Blade servers are nifty because you can mount say ten vertically in the space of a 6u rack mount. This seemed to be a hot topic back when there were drastic dot-com needs. Maybe it is still a need for crowded data centers and the occasional super computer builder.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

One nice thing about modern blade servers is that they can share power supplies and network adapters between multiple nodes.  If you've wired up a rack of machines that are dual homed to a standard switch, you know what a mess that can become. 

There a lot of applications for these.  I've been using early generation blades by Cubix in low cost HA analytic clusters for years.  The new ones look all that much better.  The available compute power (and power requirements) in modern Cubix, IBM, or HP systems seems pretty insane... 

They are a welcome refinement to the rack mounted boxes that are available from your favorite vendor.

Obviously the average web server doesn't need 8 dual 3ghz XEON  machines, but for the applications that do, they can reduce your management headaches. 

christopher baus (
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Blades are not a "be all and end all" general replacement for servers at all, but rather are something to consider when your best method for expanding a system is to scale outwards (e.g. over many low to moderate power systems) rather than to scale upwards (e.g. one hyper-powerful system).

A trivial example of this would be SMTP gateways for a major ISP or company... rather than having just one very powerful gateway you might want several more modest gateways in order to improve redundancy at this point - you wouldn't want to lose your whole email system because you got one mega powerful server and it had a hardware fault.

Robert Moir
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I agree that it's all about size. Rack space at a hosting facility can be expensive, and staying with a more modest half or whole rack instead of expanding out into a second rack can very well make up for the cost of using blades.

It's a juggling game. :)

Brad Wilson (
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Blade servers are useful for:

Low space consumption
Easy expandability - it makes adding a processor like putting in a hot swap hard drive.
High CPU requirements of your software

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Companies who make them probably love blade servers.  You have a high initial cost (which is OK because they are hyped) and then a vendor lock-in once you've purchased the first cage.

I think they have their uses, but I don't see 1U-styled systems aren't going away, either.  Especially now that the size pendulum has swung towards small-is-good away from the towers-are-good of a few years back.

Flamebait Sr.
Thursday, October 23, 2003

yes they are.

Friday, October 24, 2003

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