3 April 2002 Dell Computer has announced its entrance into the emerging market for blade servers with the launch of two new PowerEdge ‘modular’ servers.
Blade servers provide racks into which servers can be plugged into as single boards. The racks provide a shared power supply and network connections. This ‘plug &play’ architecture enables IT technicians to add server capacity incrementally and significantly reduces the time needed to install and configure servers. They also use less space.
However, blade server technology is still in the ‘early adopter’ phase. Although a host of start-ups have launched blade designs during the past few quarters, Dell will be only the third of the major hardware vendors – after Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Compaq – to launch any products. IBM and Sun Microsystems are expected to release products during the second half of 2002.
Dell’s entrance into the market will undoubtedly spice things up. The company is renowned for its streamlined manufacturing processes that enable it to compete aggressively on price in the PC and low-end server market, both of which it currently leads.
Ultimately, however, blade server hardware will become commoditised, and if Dell is serious about entering higher margin markets it will need to focus on management software. To this end, Dell will also include management software and services with its blade servers.
The hardware manufacturer will discuss the technical details of its blade server strategy, as well as other issues, to analysts in New York on Thursday. Its blade servers are based on Intel’s new 800MHz dual processor-capable Pentium III Xeon chips, which were released in March 2002.
Cutting edge? (March 2002)
‘Blade’ servers claim to squeeze as much computing power into as little floor space as possible. How do they work, and can they offer a scalable and manageable alternative to the way organisations currently buy server power?