In the world of blade servers, IBM has probably been the most aggressive company in touting the idea of a blade as a machine that can do far more than simply route your data around the office or back to central IT. That notion, in fact is the underpinning of the company's "In A Box" approach to bringing blades into specific industries, pre-tooled to handle a variety of functions that make the server the IT shop on the spot.
The latest industry to see an "In A Box" rollout is banking, with a BladeCenter package that, for $100,000 per branch, is designed to let bank branches function independently, yet easily communicate back to the main data center. IBM's program director of BladeCenter marketing, Tim Dougherty, pointed out when I spoke with him Friday that it's not just a matter of tying the ATMs or back-office functions into the server; the machine can even monitor the security cameras, digitizing the video and even applying pattern-recognition software to spot and highlight anomalies in normal customer behavior.
"The infrastructure in bank shops has largely been in silos," said Dougherty. "If you wanted to expand at all, you'd add another server for whatever specialized function you needed to deal with." IBM thinks that plugging in one powerful blade, having that do everything and moving the client environment to thin clients running on its partner ClearCube's platform will be enticing and, in the long run, money-saving.
It's certainly a viable argument. It's also a way for a company invested in blades as the next wave of servers to keep the spotlight on that technology. And, if nothing else, it's an example of IBM thinking about the role of the server in a way that's, dare I say, out of the box.