Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dispelling Myths about Blade Infrastructures

Of all of the myths surrounding blade infrastructures, the most common one is that they are more expensive. In fact, blade infrastructures actually reduce the total cost of operation (TCO) in the long run. The key is to determine what savings the hardware will provide over its lifetime, and not just the initial investment. Some of the long-term savings that blade infrastructures provide are the result of reduced physical space, reduced administrative and management costs, and reduced power and cooling costs. Typically, the breakeven point for an organization making the transformation to blade server is 7-8 servers. After that, the savings become increasingly apparent.

Another common misconception is that blade infrastructures are not as redundant as traditional rackmount infrastructures. This is inaccurate because blade servers support the same CPUs, memory, and disk capacities as their rackmount counterparts. Additionally, blade servers can be clustered using clustering software, as well as offering many high availability (HA) features and hot-pluggable components. All blade servers within a blade chassis also benefit from the redundancy that the chassis provides, without incremental costs.  All chassis have multiple power supplies and multiple cooling fans, plus they may (and should) be configured with redundant management modules and redundant switches.

Additionally, many hold the incorrect assumption that blade infrastructures provide slower performance than rackmount servers. This myth can be dispelled for the same reason.  Blade servers are just as redundant as their rackmount counterparts. The performance of the blade infrastructure can easily be enhanced by configuring the blade servers with multiple Intel or AMD processors with multiple cores as well as high-speed RAM or fast SAS or SATA disk drives.

Another reason that organizations may have previously dismissed blade infrastructures is due to the misconception that they are only intended for large organizations. Since many SMBs face similar challenges to large organizations when it comes to management, blade infrastructures benefit them as well. Furthermore, blade infrastructures free up the limited IT resources that SMBs have through simplified, consolidated web-based management.

Blade infrastructures are also inaccurately perceived as requiring more power consumption and having higher cooling expenses. In actuality, blade infrastructures often cost considerably less to power and cool due to their common midplane that allows for shared power and cooling resources amongst all of the server blades housed within the blade chassis. The shared infrastructure of the blade chassis allows for fewer fans and power supplies, resulting in reduced power consumption and cooling expenses. 

Last but not least, there is the myth that blade infrastructures are more complicated to set up and manage than rackmount servers. In fact, blade infrastructures are actually less complicated because the power, cabling, cooling, network and administration are all integrated within the blade chassis. As a result, deploying a blade infrastructure is quite simple. First, the blade chassis must be racked and plugged in, then configured with the management software. The management software must then be used to provision the server blades. The blade infrastructure is now deployed. Once the blade infrastructure has been implemented, provisioning additional servers is very fast, easy, and efficient.

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