The evolution of Blade Computing has moved from mere server consolidation to a way of managing IT assets which brings significant business benefits. This paper aims to explain those benefits to the business and IT manager, and show how blade computing can be implemented to save money and improve the way IT serves the business needs.
- Blade computing is not just about a new server form factor Blade computing is a new computing architecture, providing a highly dense, scalable and powerful flexible platform to support an organisation‟s software needs.
- Business benefits are manifold Blade computing does not only provide the means for more compact centralised data centres, but also increasingly addresses power and cooling concerns, as well as providing a highly flexible, long term platform for an organisation‟s computing needs
- The key to blade computing is in the engineering of the total system Each blade has to interact with other blades around it, and this requires specialised chassis with high performance connections ("busses") built in to the system. The chassis also needs to allow for adequate power and cooling provision.
- Each blade can be focused on a highly specific workload Although general purpose blades are available, specific blades aimed at security, caching, memory, storage and network connectivity are becoming more widely available. Also, each compute blade can run different operating systems, and can be tuned for specific workloads.
- Blade computing enables high levels of investment protection A blade chassis should be forwards and backwards compatible with the same vendor‟s blades, so ensuring that new investments will be able to fit alongside existing ones. Also, older investments can be cascaded to support lower importance workloads, extending the lifetime value of individual blade components.
- The "ilities" are fully catered for with blades Availability, scalability and manageability are all catered for within a blade system. Each component is capable of being replaced with the overall system still running, and as extra scalability is required, new components can be added dynamically to the system.
- The overall cost of blade computing will be lower Blades make the most of utilising commodity sub-components - standard CPUs, disk drives, network interfaces and so on. Therefore, initial and ongoing costs are lower. Also, vendors at the sub-component and assembly level have worked hard on power requirements, such that the equivalent blade compute power will need a fraction of the power (and therefore the cooling) of a standard server farm. Also, due to the density of the system, data centres can be smaller, driving down the needs for space cooling even further.
- Blade computing offers a flexible platform for utility computing The dynamic nature of a blade computing platform means that it is ideal for providing the underpinnings for strategic technical approaches such as service oriented architectures (SOAs) or grid computing.
Blade computing creates great opportunities for businesses to optimise existing infrastructures and to prepare for new strategies such as SOA to support the business. The highly modular nature of a blade system means that investment protection will be high, while the flexible nature of the various blade components is well suited to meeting the ongoing dynamic changes within an organisation‟s business processes.
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