28 February 2002 Hardware vendor Sun Microsystems is to release its first super-thin blade servers in the second-half of 2002.
Although Sun is following the lead of competitors, including Compaq and start-up RLX Technologies, it is an important move as blade servers are expected to become key to boosting sales in the depressed server hardware market.
Blade servers are generating excitement for several reasons. Their small size means that organisations can save on office space. For example, around 200 blade servers can be fitted into an area the size of a refrigerator. The servers can also share common resources such as power supplies and cooling fans, which cuts down on operational costs.
Blade servers are typically used on heavy duty web sites. This includes performing tasks such as serving up millions of web pages and keeping hackers from entering corporate networks.
Sun will release two blade servers products later in 2002: one using Intel chips running on the open-source Linux operating system and another using Sun’s UltraSparc chips running Sun’s own Solaris operating system. Both will be 16 single-processor servers in a cabinet 5.25 inches thick. It intends to add a dual processor product in 2003, according to company executives.
Plans for blade servers have also been unveiled by other hardware suppliers including IBM and Dell Computer. While Dell will release its blade servers in mid-2002, IBM has said it will unveil its “Excalibur” server at the end of 2002. However, Sun executives warned that with many organisations still cutting back on their web site expenditure it did not expect blades servers to deliver revenue growth until 2003.