Raw horsepower under the hood doesnt do you much good if you cant use it, and computing power packed on cards and placed in a rack wont do you much good if you cant manage all that CPU horsepower. Thats the current state of affairs with server blade technology, which is getting way too much emphasis on horsepower while the issue of managing all that easily expandable processing power gets only passing notice.
In this weeks eWEEK Labs report on blade servers, we test drive server blade products and talk with the IT managers who use them. Technical Analyst Francis Chu tests new blade systems from Hewlett-Packard and RLX Technologies and finds easily deployable systems well-suited to Internet-centric, front-end applications. However, making systems that are easy to deploy often means deployment outpaces the ability to manage all those systems. Senior Writer Anne Chen talks with IT managers wrestling with those deployment issues in her accompanying article to Francis review.
The issue of managing blade servers has not gone unnoticed by vendors looking for new avenues of market growth. Both F5 Networks and Jareva Technologies have introduced management products for the blade environment. And if you are not ready to fork over the IT dollars for blade servers, Francis looks at server virtualization software, which holds the possibility of building independent server partitions in your legacy hardware.
If the knock against blade technology has been unharnessed horsepower, the knock against online, Web-centric technologies has been what happens when you want to operate in an unplugged mode. Marc Benioff, the tireless promoter of Salesforce.coms end-of-software product, has promised a solution to the connected company that sometimes has to operate in a disconnected world. In this weeks issue, Labs Director John Taschek runs an exclusive test of Saleforce.coms Offline Edition and finds the product lives up to that promise. This product is a big step in the companys quest to be seen as a technologically advanced, lower-priced and much more user-friendly competitor to more traditionally designed products from market leaders. The subscription software model has long been held up as the next step up from purchase models that require big front-end costs and expensive consultants. For one of the first applications that bridges the gap between hosted applications and the offline world, see Johns review.
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