OEMs led by IBM are trying to spark interest in blade servers by expanding the capabilities of their respective systems.
IBM is seen as a market leader in blade systems, servers that can fit booklike into chassis and share resources such as power supplies and networking infrastructures. The Armonk, N.Y., company—through partnerships with Nortel Networks Ltd. and Cisco Systems Inc.—has integrated Ethernet networking switch modules into its BladeCenter systems over the last two months.
IBM next month will roll out Fibre Channel switching modules from Brocade Communications Systems Inc., of San Jose, Calif., that can plug into BladeCenter servers. The Entry SAN (storage area network) Switch Module will support a dual-switch fabric and is aimed at small and midsize businesses. The Enterprise SAN Switch Module is aimed at large SAN deployments.
IBM also will ship its Power-based JS20 blade server and the four-way HS40, powered by Intel Corp.s Xeon processors, with Fibre Channel switch blades, management controllers and Fibre Down host bus adapters from QLogic Corp., of Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Dan Kaberon, director of network computing resources for Hewitt Associates LLC, said being able to integrate the networking technology into the IBM BladeCenter systems he uses will simplify management and reduce cabling.
“This is very attractive,” said Kaberon in Lincolnshire, Ill. “Complexity is having lots of different components spread across lots of different boxes and [having them] cabled together and trying to document those boxes and document all those cables.”
Other OEMs are also preparing new systems. Dell Inc., of Round Rock, Texas, is working on a new generation of blades, according to officials. In addition, Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., is scheduled later this year to roll out blade servers based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron processor.
For its part, Intel is evaluating a blade powered by its 64-bit Itanium chip, said officials in Santa Clara, Calif.
At the same time, a separate effort is under way in the industry to develop software for blade servers to make them easier to manage and enable them to interoperate.
Blade pioneer RLX Technologies Inc. by July will introduce enhancements to its Control Tower XT management software suite to further automate tasks, including resource provisioning, rules definitions and policy procedures, according to officials in The Woodlands, Texas.
In addition, an initiative to standardize how networked servers—including blade servers—are managed will bear fruit in the second half of the year, said Gary Thome, director of HPs blade server strategy. The initiative, begun by Dell, IBM, Intel, HP, Sun Microsystems Inc. and AMD, among others, is being carried out by a working group within the Distributed Management Task Force, of Portland, Ore.
Thome said the working group will roll out two versions of the initial specification, one involving a GUI and the other, a command-line interface.
Check out eWEEK.coms Server & Networking Center at http://servers.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.