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Blade Runners Need To Keep Cool

They're small, they're flexible, they're useful for enterprises of all sizes -- no question, blade servers are increasingly attractive. This week's Server Blade Summit surely amplified the attention on an already hot product. Companies are hearing about more technologically advanced equipment, as well as real-world examples of businesses solving problems with them, and it seems that users like the message.

The ability to cluster blades in densely packed racks means that businesses can turn to them to solve large-scale problems. For instance, IBM and Napster are teaming on an architecture that rather than serving downloadable music files over the Internet, groups installations of IBM blade servers in strategic spots for direct file-serving to customers. Similarly, Gryphon Networks turned to blade clusters to grapple with compliance and volume issues in the call-center network it operates for 350 telemarketers. In each case, the companies have overcome issues that would have required huge server rooms in the past.

Blade vendors are continuing to tune their systems. Hewlett-Packard recently rolled out a two-processor blade that's even thinner than previous versions, enabling more servers to be run in available space than before.

But one technological bugaboo continues to bother IT managers running blade installations -- keeping them from overheating. Sun Microsystems blade specialist Frank Schwartz says that air conditioning costs are starting to match the costs of the blade servers themselves. For enterprises that need server flexibility, though, that investment might, in fact, be a truly cool one.

Blade Servers Gain Traction At Networks' Edge
This is the week of the blade server, as a barrage of announcements unveiled all sorts of products, ranging from standalone machines to massive clustered configurations.

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