Vegas Blade Warning

IT managers talk about how to place their chips on blade servers at the Data Center World conference in Vegas

April 7, 2004

2 Min Read
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LAS VEGAS -- Data center managers may have their work cut out for them in justifying the cost of blade servers to their boards, warns Carl Greiner, Meta Group Inc. vice president, at the start of the Afcom Data Center World Conference in Las Vegas.

Speaking today to an audience of users and vendors at the typically understated Rio Hotel and Casino, Greiner highlighted the current cost disparity between blades and traditional rack-mounted servers. He says, I have to do more interconnect, I have to share more memory -- there’s lots of things that I have to do with a blade that I don’t have to do with the individual rack.”

This means that many organizations are delaying their blade purchases. “Some people are getting pushed back by their management," notes Greiner, "saying ‘let’s wait for the next go-round.’ ”

But the former IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) executive urged users to emphasize the improved flexibility and utilization offered by blade servers, if they want to convince their boards that the technology is viable. “Just be aware, there are economies to this thing -- it just isn’t a hardware-for-hardware comparison.”

Blade servers, which are marketed as a compact, high performance, alternative to traditional servers, are attracting increasing attention from users at the moment. Although research from firms such as Meta Group and IDC. say that blades still only represent a tiny proportion of the server market, the technology offers some real benefits in the data center.According to IBM, users can save money on electricity and cooling costs by using low-power processors on certain blades. The hardware vendor also claims that the technology eliminates many of the power-consuming infrastructure components found in 1U rack servers.

IBM recently announced its new BladeCenter-T server in an effort to win market share from Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), its bitter rival in this space (see IBM's BladeServer Blitz).

One IT manager at the conference, who asked not to be named, is already using some 96 blades from HP. He says, “We have gone for that route to consolidate a lot of the old Compaq NT and Compaq Windows servers -- the blades are working very nicely.”

The good news for IT managers is that they could be in line for more cash to spend on data center technology next year, with Meta Group predicting budget growth of between 9 and 11 percent in 2004, up from 8.2 percent in 2003. Currently, the data center accounts for between 50 and 75 percent of firms’ IT budgets, according to the analyst firm.

James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum0

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