Sample RFP: Blade Servers

As IT managers contend with performance issues, management issues and space constraints, an increasing number are considering blade servers for their data centers.

As IT managers contend with performance issues, management issues and space constraints, an increasing number are considering blade servers for their data centers. There are several factors IT managers should consider when developing a request for proposal for blade servers. For example, a blade deployment or expansion will depend on the quality of the management platform that supports the blade hardware. And blade servers may offer more streamlined management than traditional rack-mounted servers but may also present cooling challenges. Power consumption, blade density and back-end storage are other issues to consider. This sample RFP is intended to help IT managers develop an evaluation tool for a blade server purchase. All RFPs should include requests for customer references, as well as an evaluation of the vendors viability and reliability. RFPs also should clearly state what goals the enterprise hopes to attain by deploying the technology being proposed.

Blade Servers


* Describe the chassis:

• Form factor

• Height

• Width

• Depth

• Weight

* How many CPUs are supported per blade?

• Minimum

• Maximum

* How many power supplies are in the chassis?

* What is the wattage for the power supplies?

* Do you offer redundant power supplies?

* What kind of cooling mechanism do you offer?

• Fan

• Liquid

* Do you provide redundant cooling fans?

* Do you provide hot-pluggable cooling fans?


* What is the maximum number of blades per chassis?

* What is the maximum number of blades per rack (42U)?


* What type(s) of processor(s) do you offer? What speed(s)?

• Advanced Micro Devices Opteron

• Intel Xeon

• Intel Xeon DP

• Intel Pentium 4

* What chip set is included?
* How many processors do you support?

• One

• Two

* At what speed does the front-side bus run?

* What is the standard cache?

* What is the maximum cache?

* How much RAM is included with the system?

* What is the minimum and maximum RAM configuration?


* Are your blades equipped with IDE drives?

Some blades are equipped with laptop-quality IDE drives installed on each blade. Such drives have a tendency to fail, forcing IT managers to replace the hard drives and provision their blades manually.

* What is your blade servers maximum internal storage capacity?

* How many internal drive bays do you offer?

* How many hot-plug drive bays do you offer?


* Does your blade server come with server management software?

* With what other management frameworks does your product work? Check all that apply.

• CA Unicenter TNG

• HP OpenView

• Microsoft Operations Manager

• Microsoft SMS

• Tivoli

• BMC Patrol

• Altiris Management Suite

• Other

* Does your blade solution come with remote management software? If so, what?

* Do you integrate a baseboard management controller?

* What other remote management features do you provide?

• Chassis status/inventory

• Full-length PCI adapters

• Remote power control

• Power monitoring

• Serial port

• Telnet or GUI

• Text-based console redirect

• Directory authentication

• SSH (Secure Shell)

• Virtual media

• KVM over IP

* What provisioning tool do you provide?

• Altiris Deployment Solution

• Symantec Ghost

• Microsoft Automated Deployment Services

• IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager

• HPs Control Tower

• Other

* What features does the management software support?

• Monitoring and management

• Remote management

• Resource pooling

• Operating system provisioning

• Clustering for PERFORMANCE• Load balancing

• Patch management

• Application provisioning

* Please list power consumption by component:

• Processor

• Blade

• Chassis

• Hard drive

• Power supply

• Maximum total power consumption

Blade servers present cooling challenges for IT managers. While high density is an attractive feature, some data centers are not equipped to handle racks populated with hundreds of processors. Data center heat can lead to blade server instability and hardware failure.


* Describe the likely deployment process and plausible timeline.


* What is the standard warranty for the system?

• Duration

• On-site service

• Next-business-day response

• Parts

• Labor

• Phone support

* What is your licensing structure?

• By blade

• By CPU and blade

• By chassis

Licensing models vary, but some vendors offer licensing plans by the chassis, allowing organizations to add, remove and reconfigure blades without worrying about subscription licenses.


* What does basic service include?

* What does premium service include, and how much does it cost?


* What platforms does your blade server support? Check all that apply.


• Microsoft Windows 2000 Server

• Microsoft Windows Server 2003

• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 64-bit

• Red Hat Enterprise Server

• Red Hat Enterprise Server EM64T

• Sun Microsystems Solaris 9

• Sun Microsystems Solaris x86

• SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9

• Others (list)

* Will your blade solution support multiple operating systems within each blade?


* What kind of cost advantage will we achieve by deploying your blade solution?

* Please list references for customers who have completed a similar deployment.

* What is the list price for an entry-level blade server? What blade server configuration reflects that price?

* What is the list price for an entry-level chassis? What chassis configuration reflects that price?

* What is the price for a fully loaded chassis? What chassis configuration reflects that price?