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Insider: Storage Boosts Blades

Gigabit Ethernet promises big changes in blade server storage

Storage is now one of the main drivers behind blade server deployments, according to the latest Byte and Switch Insider.

The report, Gigabit Ethernet: Blade Servers Fuel Storage Democracy, reveals that thanks in part to increased adoption of Ethernet for SAN connectivity, CIOs are incorporating more blade servers into their SANs. Ease of use, cost benefits, and the small form factor of blades are pushing this trend, according to Max Smetannikov, research analyst for Byte and Switch Insider and author of the report.

"Vendors have focused on blade servers as a perfect complement to SANs and see the use of blade server-storage combinations as satisfying customer needs," explains Smetannikov. "Many have launched new products that deliver not just storage functionality, but also applications that have been developed on the assumption of the availability of blade server-storage switch infrastructure."

Examples include IBM's "Branch In A Box" offering for the banking industry, which uses the vendor's BladeCenter to support local storage backup and restore, wireless networking, and management of automated teller machines. Vendors like HP and Sun also have pushed the marriage of blade servers and storage with a slew of recent announcements. (See IBM Bolsters Blade Strategy, IBM Offers Blade Replacement, , HP Adds Storage Blade, and Sun Glints Off Blades.)

At the heart of the trend is acceptance of Ethernet as a primary data center network. The report explores the following findings:

  • Gigabit Ethernet is threatening to overtake Fibre Channel as the primary storage networking fabric.
  • More blade servers support Gigabit Ethernet than Fibre Channel.
  • iSCSI running over Gigabit Ethernet will lead blade-and-storage platforms down market by expanding the potential customer base to include smaller businesses.

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