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Blade Servers Gain Traction At Networks' Edge

This is the week of the blade server as a barrage of announcements unveiled all sorts of blade servers ranging from standalone machines and dual-processor models to massive clustered configurations.

Hewlett-Packard led the pack with two new members of its ProLiant family. The wave of blade server news coincides with the week-long Server Blade Summit 2004 conference in San Jose, Calif.

"Blade servers are getting some traction at the edge of the network," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst of Insight 64. "The challenge now is to pack a bunch of processors into a small space."

Blade servers are finding applications for "routine processing tasks" like the management of home pages and in other situations where users hit on the edge of enterprise networks in big numbers, Brookwood said. H-P announced such a machine, its HP ProLiant BL30p, which is based on dual Intel Xeon processors.

The blade server market is also marked by two conflicting trends, Brookwood said. Many users like the "big iron" approach of clustering scores or more servers to form powerful enterprise systems while others favor breaking down systems in smaller configurations. "Oracle, for instance, used to like to deploy in a big box," he said. "Now, Oracle likes to deploy on smaller clustered systems."

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