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IT Challenge: Server Blades

Like many financial-services firms located in high-cost city centers, Townsend Analytics suffers from a lack of space. When it comes to managing computing hardware in the firm's high-density data center, Jon Akeson, a procurement evaluator at the company, says Townsend is "squeezing as many pieces of computer equipment as we can in a small area. It's something we try to maximize."

So when hardware manufacturers started announcing blade equipment solutions, designed to improve server density, Akeson says, "We were pretty excited about it, and we looked at several blade products." The "phenomenal advantages" of blade computing would allow Townsend to "double the amount of servers in a given space," Akeson says.

The Challenge
The need to jam more computing power into less space has firms scrambling to manage their data centers. Blade computing, a form of stacking servers and sharing common components, can help. But implementing them is no slam dunk.

Once Akeson entered the testing phase and closely examined the different product lines, however, he found that deploying blade technology wasn't as simple as it sounded. In fact, it required "costly changes" to the power-distribution infrastructure and mandated that the firm add some networking equipment.

While Townsend bit the bullet and spent the money, Akeson points out that blades have to make your management of servers easier in order to be an advantage. "We feel it may result in a decrease in the cost of ownership in the long run, but initial problems make it impossible to just roll them into production without some extra expenditure," he says.

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