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Blade Server: What Are the Pros and Cons?

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Blade body

The blade server is being increasingly employed these days by companies intent on consolidating IT resources at lower cost, but not all enterprises stand to gain from switching to blade technology.

Essentially a reduced version of a standard rack-mounted server, the blade server contains just the bare essentials: a CPU, RAM, integrated input/output (I/O) ports and network adapters. Other elements such as storage, cooling equipment and power converters that are provided by the blade server chassis, can then fit into a standard rack enclosure.

A main point of separation from standard servers is a blade’s increased power offering; it takes up less space and can be organised in a specialised enclosure with other blades to maximise space usage.

Below, we consider some of other key pros and cons of the blade server so you can make a more informed choice about what’s best for your business.

Pros

Easy to set up: The smallest kind of server, blade’s stripped down internals make it straight forward to set up.

With storage and power converters in the chassis, the server body is far more versatile in terms of where it can be kept in an office or server room. This brings knock-on advantages to the organisation of its surrounding area.

Similarly, fewer cabling requirements mean the blade server is generally a neater setup than standalone servers, which often need far more cabling attachment to connect to the network.

Management: Load balancing and failover capabilities are two areas in which blade servers outperform regular standalones. While the latter are able to carry out these tasks, the blade server is engineered specifically for them, and its more slender infrastructure contributes to its ability to work more efficiently and in a less complex way.

Furthermore, in the event of hardware malfunction, blade servers can self-diagnose enabling problems to be identified and dealt with quicker.

Consolidation: A particularly useful attribute of blade servers is that multiple servers can be housed in a single unit, complementing its storage, maintenance and cabling plus-points.

Components and power source can be shared by each multiple server, while other resources such as equipment and further storage can be equally consolidated.

Disadvantages

Climate control: Typically, standalone servers can be stored throughout a building and will not have many detailed requirements in terms of the temperature of their surroundings.

Blade servers are much more dense than standard rack-mounted units, so they generate far more heat. While they have cooling technology built-in, a more sophisticated, and potentially more expensive, approach to climate control is needed to eliminate the risk of the server breaking down or becoming damaged.

Expense: Blade servers can get costly once the process of research, purchase, configuration and physical setup has played out. However, the end cost can vary depending on the brand and model of the blade server, and on individual unit specifications based on configuration settings.

Installation, training of IT staff and high maintenance costs are further factors that can push the price of blade up in the long-term.

Devaluation: As with any technology, new brands and models appear on the market every few months which means blade servers go out of date and can depreciate after a period of use. With further upgrades come further costs, and there’s always a chance that the hardware will not be compatible with the original unit.

The cut and thrust

There are many situations where blade servers make complete sense. When twinned with virtualisation setup, such as Vblock platform, blade’s additional computing power without the bulk can bring undeniable advantages.

 

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Tags: Business, Digital Transformation