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Should my small company look into blade servers?

I'm hearing a lot about blade computing, but I can't figure out how blade servers are any different from rack servers. Can you fill me in? Should my company (of 320 users) be looking into blade?

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Blade computers are great for folks who are looking to trim real estate. They look like circuit boards, but are real computer systems under the covers. Your ordinary server rack can hold 40ish two-processor servers, while there is the potential (IBM only does a 2 for 1, from what I see) that a few hundred blade servers can fit into the same space. They also consume less energy and would need less cooling in the data center.

Another plus is manageability. Software loaded on one blade can be replicated very quickly. IBM is devoting a lot of resources towards its blade strategy -- see this url for more info: http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/eserver/bladecenter/. Because blades are still in their infancy, be prepared to pay some money if you're seriously looking at blade servers. Truthfully, if you're a small company with 320 users and already have a small computer room with servers, unless you're looking to move and space is at an absolute premium, I would hold off a bit -- until the costs drop and more people have really started to use this technology.

This was first published in October 2003

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