A hot market for blade servers

Blade servers may be attractive to companies seeking more computing power without needing more real esate. However, these devices generate more heat, raising the need for effective cooling solutions, said George Kong, vice president for ASEAN of APC-MGE, which specializes in the provision of power, cooling and management solutions for desktops, data centers and factory floors.

“The energy cost of maintaining the right environment to keep servers running far outweighs server costs alone,” Kong said. “Data centers need a precision cooling environment that allows servers to run at optimal speed without burnout.”

He noted that many companies today deploy blade servers to achieve greater computing power in the same area. “However, this presents a major challenge for data centers because the more blades there are in one rack, the greater the heat emitted, which may cause server failure.”

With environmental cooling alone unable to deal with the heat, gaps need to be left between blade servers, limiting the extent of high density deployment, he added.

To address this issue, APC-MGE provides customizable integrated data center solutions that combine power, cooling and management components, according to Kong. He pointed out that the traditional way of building a data center involves projecting three years of computing power usage, followed by the construction of a large facility with general air conditioning.

“The non-traditional approach is the scalable model, where instead of projecting power usage, the data center is expanded as and when you grow your business,” Kong said. CIOs face the difficult decision of how to expand data center capacity when needed, according to him. “Besides high density blade deployment, other considerations include expanding floor space or outsourcing to a data center provider.”

Kong noted the trend among enterprises moving towards the adoption of a hybrid data center model, where some functions are kept in-house and the rest outsourced. Another trend: the increasing use of high density blade servers by enterprises to keep down space rental costs.

The data center market’s financial and banking segment should experience the most growth in 2008, Kong said. “In Asia especially, many financial institutions are consolidating their dispersed computing systems into single big data centers.