Appro Rolls Out Energy-Efficient GreenBlade Server System

Appro's GreenBlade System comes with a host of energy-efficient features, from shared cooling and management capabilities to AMD Opteron processors. Appro is among a growing number of OEMs-such as HP and Dell-that are offering green IT to businesses. However, given the current economic issues, many businesses are reluctant to part with their money right now to invest in green IT, says one analyst.

Systems maker Appro is adding to its Go-Green technology initiative with the GreenBlade System, designed to make it easier for businesses to scale up their computing environments while reducing power costs and data center floor space.

The blade architecture, announced Feb. 17, offers a variety of energy-efficient features aimed at driving down operational costs and a modular design that will allow businesses to pay for computing capacity as they need it, said John Lee, vice president of advanced technology solutions at Appro.

Lee said that in traditional data center environments, servers are bought with enough computing capacity to handle peak performance demands. The problem is that when those peak demands aren't present, there is a lot of unused-and expensive-computing capacity around, he said.

With Appro GreenBlade, "you can have all the capacity and performance you want," Lee said. "You just don't have to pay premiums and you get better TCO [total cost of ownership]."

To see Appro's GreenBlade System, click here.

The Appro GreenBlade System-which houses server, storage, network, power and management capabilities-is based on quad-core Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices. In addition, rather than having each blade running its own cooling system, the GreenBlade System blades share a cooling system that cools an entire 5U rack, Lee said. Power is also shared.

Appro is positioning the new system as an alternative to 1U servers. The GreenBlade System supports up to 10 dual-chip blades with up to 80 processing cores, and comes with hot-swappable and redundant cooling fans, power supplies and blade nodes. It also offers power supplies that are 90-plus percent efficient, Lee said.

The new system, which offers a choice of Microsoft Windows or Linux, is aimed at businesses with HPC (high-performance computing) needs as well as mid-sized businesses.

Appro in the second quarter will roll out storage blades to go with the GreenBlade System.

The vendor's Go-Green initiative, designed to support green IT programs, includes 1U and 2U high-density servers. Other aspects include such programs as shipping 1U servers in reusable plastic containers and shipping computing racks preconfigured and preinstalled with the servers.

Green IT has become a hot topic, and Lee said Appro is seeing an increased interest from businesses, particularly in light of the rising power costs. For example, he pointed to national laboratories that in the past had little interest in green IT, but now are taking advantage of such technologies as AMD's PowerNow power management offering.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said that despite the growing number of vendors-such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard-that are pushing energy-efficient products, many businesses must be convinced of economic advantages in green technology before they adopt it.

"What we've been hearing from vendors is that they're getting push-back," King said. "The customers are pushing back and saying that energy efficiency for the sake of the environment [isn't enough]. They want to save money and want help to do what they do less expensively."

The recession has only made that argument stronger, he said. Businesses now are more reluctant to spend money upfront on technology if the payback is incremental. They'd be more likely to buy such technology if they can get a return on investment in 12 months, rather than having to wait 24 or 36 months, King said.

"Most companies today are looking to hold onto their money and use the technology that they have," he said.