Blade Server Trade Group Forms

The Server Blade Trade Association says its goal is to educate end users on the benefits of blades.

Proponents of blade server technology now have a trade association to promote their cause.

The Server Blade Trade Association—which counts among its founders Chris Hipp, one of the co-founders of blade pioneer RLX Technologies Inc.—announced its creation this week.

The goal of the group, which was created by more than 20 companies, is to educate end users on the benefits of blades, said Ed Doody, the associations executive director.

"There is high interest among end users about server blades," said Doody, in Irving, Texas.

Blades are much smaller than todays commonly used rack-mounted servers and enable enterprise customers to greatly expand their computing power per rack. Some vendors, for example, can squeeze more than 300 of the ultra-thin servers into an industry-standard rack originally designed to hold only 42 1U servers, at one time the thinnest chassis available.

A blade usually contains the processors, memory and networking components needed to run applications, and are plugged into a single chassis. There also is other technology that accompanies the blades, including backplanes, interconnects and management software.

Doody said the association also will be a clearinghouse for information about other blades, such as security and storage blades.

Blade servers were first popularized by RLX, of The Woodlands, Texas, in 2001, when the cmpany rolled out a system that could stack 324 blades into an industry-standard rack. Since then, the major OEMs, including Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Computer Corp., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc., have unveiled their own systems.

The idea for a trade association arose during the first Server Blade Summit in May 2002. The group will first meet officially at the next summit March 4-6 in San Jose, Calif.

Founding members include Raritan Computer Inc., InfiniCon Systems Inc., OmniCluster Technologies Inc. and QLogic Corp. Doody said he expects that the major OEMs, if they dont join the association, will find value in it.