One way to address the problems associated with server sprawl is through physical consolidation. Through physical consolidation, an organization reduces the total number of servers in use by merging the workload onto fewer servers.
Organizations are able to make more efficient use of their computing resources, not to mention free up data center space, reduce power and cooling costs, and reduce complexity to make management easier.
The use of blade servers in the data center is one approach to physical consolidation. Blade servers are different than traditional rack-mount servers. Blade systems are built with a modular infrastructure that can share many resources with fewer components. Unlike rack-mount servers, blades do not have their own power supplies or fans.
Rather, they share these components with other blades in a chassis that they all reside in. Another key difference is that blades do not have traditional input connections that can be found on the back of a rack-mount server. Communication is performed through the chassis mid-plane, which interconnects all of the blades to the chassis.
Blade servers offer many benefits of physical consolidation within the data center. Their consolidated design is more affordable to purchase and maintain than traditional rack-mount servers. Less rack space is used, and blades offer an almost 20 percent reduction in server airflow and close to a 30 percent power savings over traditional servers. With some manufacturers, up to 16 blades can fit into a 10U rack space. That’s quite a space savings compared to the traditional 1U “pizza box” servers of the past. Blade deployment is also much easier. Blade servers can be set up in minutes. And best of all, the IT team can add resources to the blade setup without having to rewire the entire rack.
Blade servers may not be a good fit for every situation. If an organization is only looking to replace one to three servers, blades are probably not appropriate. Or if an organization’s storage needs are great and there is no budget for a centralized storage system, then rack-mount servers may be a better fit given their greater internal storage space.