Dell Bringing New Blades to Market

After ignoring the market for several years, Dell is bringing news blades and a chassis to compete against similar offerings from HP and IBM.

Dell's new blade architecture is ready for prime time.

The Round Rock, Texas, company is announcing Jan. 21 that after much rumor and speculation, its new blade architecture will now be available to customers starting this month. In addition to new blades, Dell will be offering a new 10U (17.5-inch) PowerEdge M1000e chassis that can hold up to 16 of the company's new "half-height," dual-socket blade servers.

It's the first time in several years that Dell has offered a new blade architecture for customers. In that time, Hewlett-Packard has soared to become the leader of this particular market, controlling about 42 percent of all worldwide blade revenue in the third quarter of 2007, according to the latest market report from IDC.

For the first time, revenue from blade shipments exceeded $1 billion in the third quarter of 2007, which might account for one reason why Dell decided to rejuvenate its hardware. Rick Becker, vice president for the Dell Product Group, told eWEEK that he believes the company has made tremendous strides in improving the power and cooling efficiency of its blades compared with previous generations.

These improvements include nine hot-pluggable, redundant fans for the chassis that use less power, while allowing the system to use the least amount of fresh air possible to cool the chassis. The enclosure also includes a total of nine power supplies and technology that allows the system to place lightly loaded power supplies into standby, which increases energy efficiency.

Click here to read more about Dell's move to expand its storage offerings.

In addition, Dell has incorporated its OpenManage software into the new PowerEdge M series, which Becker said will help reduce the complexity of controlling the system and allows for remote management. These developments are also part of Dell's "Simplify IT" initiative that CEO Michael Dell announced last year.

"What we are seeing these new blades used for are very dense deployments, where power and cooling are major issues and customers need a very specific blade solution," Becker said, adding that Dell is still dedicated to its standard rack-mounted servers.

"We are very committed to blades when they are the right answers to the right problems," Becker added. "This is all very much part of a complete data center solution, and we see the M series as a way to address problems ranging from virtualization to power management, and we believe that we have leaped past anything the competition has to offer."

The M1000e chassis supports a number of different networking options, including Ethernet, Fibre Channel and Infiniband. Dell is also introducing a new feature called "Flex I/O," which allows users to scale the system and add bandwidth as needed.