IBM introduces thin blade server

IBM Corp. announced on Tuesday the release of its new thin-design blade server that will allow six units to fit in an industry-standard rack, giving it the ability to scale up to 84 two-way servers in a single rack.

The eServer BladeCenter is based on a plug-and-play design with a removable card that plugs into a chassis, that in turn plugs into a rack. It also features Intel’s fast Xeon processor.

The BladeCenter combines high-performance computing resources and shared infrastructure to create a cost-effective, high-density solution helping enterprises to meet their infrastructure needs in a data centre, IBM said.

The blade server can hold 84 two-way servers per rack that connect to shared resources, such as power, cooling, switching and management, through the midplane. IBM said it is aiming to compete with Hewlett Packard’s ProLiant BL20p system with its offering.

Blade servers offer a lot of benefits for enterprises, according to Stephen Ibaraki, a North Vancouver-based information systems professional and Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) member

“Since power consumption can be much less and they (blade servers) take up less space. These blade servers can reduce computing costs,” he said. “Hundreds of servers can be placed into the same space where only a few could be placed before, and fewer fans are needed for heat dissipation.”

Ibaraki believes the IBM servers will go “mainstream” from Web hosting to applications. But, he said, performance and reliability will have to be displayed before enterprises will jump on board.

“IBM will have to prove that they are reliable and that the performance is there before companies move more of their core functionality to this technology. The concept is attractive,” he said.

The BladeCenter will support Linux, Microsoft Windows and Novell Netware. The server will be available worldwide beginning in November at a base price of US$1,879.

According to an International Data Corp. (IDC) study titled Blade Market Update: The Competitive Landscape in 2002, the blade server market is set to grow to almost US$3.7 billion by 2006.

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