Are blade server technologies still viable even with the advent of virtualization

Posted on 2014-07-30
Last Modified: 2014-07-31
Good afternoon experts,

My question is really an inquiry as to the viability of blade server technologies in a virtual environment. In my previous job, we had a combination of  blade servers and rack mountable servers. when it came time to virtualize the environment , the decision was made to invest in rack mountable servers that were sufficiently beefy enough to handle the 150plus servers, that inlcuded , but not limited to,  member servers, domain controllers, etc, into a VMware infrastructure. At the end of the day , the physical footprint of the data-center was reduced significantly , thus supporting the concept of going green. I believe this could have been achieved just as well using bladed technologies. I would appreciate some feedback on your agreement , disagreement , or opinions.
Question by:BLACK THANOS
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LVL 120

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 100 total points
ID: 40229959
Blade technologies require more power and air con,

what is green, :-

Datacenter is now changing, and we are starting to see smaller footprint unbranded hardware servers, no air conditioning, Air Flow only....

and in recent new datacentres, I've seen no Blade Enclosures.....

We've recently seen, three servers installed in a 19" rack bay, with dual processors, and 96GB RAM, in open cases....

if a server fails, it's marked as bad, when all the servers fail in a 42 U rack the rack is marked as bad, and they call an engineer to break fix and swap out the motherboards...

and tin is being replaced with software!

yes, software network, sans, and hypervisors.....more software less tin.
LVL 11

Assisted Solution

by:Forrest Burris
Forrest Burris earned 75 total points
ID: 40229966
Absolutely 100% yes for blades working in a VM environment. Interesting that your physical footprint was reduced. Blades tend to be more space friendly. They tend to be more expensive however and the midplane single point of failure on a chassis occasionally cause people to move away from them. They also require proprietary power plugs yet can save thousands a year in power consumption depending on data center scale. Blades have a great unified interface for management but they can be a bear to configure. Blades also force you in to a vendor 'lock-in' if you will because of their proprietary enclosure. With standard rack mountable servers you can typically work with a hodge podge of different server tech (Dell PEs thrown in with HP PLs etc). Blades also tend to require enormous amounts of focused cooling. However SSD tech is making that process a bit less cumbersome.
LVL 95

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 50 total points
ID: 40229980
It really depends on the network design.  A blade environment connecting to SANs with 10GbE or Fiber could have multiple VM Hosts in a very small space...
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Assisted Solution

rastoi earned 50 total points
ID: 40230038
There is no good answer and you have always to think in per purpose relations.
 if you run environment for small environment, with dozen of hypervisors and you don't expect grow in multiples, it really doesn't make sense to go for blade from power as well as from price point of view.
Once your need will come to tens of physical servers, you will see the benefits of blades density, manageability and flexibility.
LVL 120
ID: 40230093
There are more virtual machines in the world now, than physical machines....

and there are also more virtual network ports in the world now, than physical network ports.
LVL 14

Assisted Solution

RickEpnet earned 75 total points
ID: 40230254
Yes on Blades they can be a very good choice for the right consumer. In my option HP really has the only well rounded and viable blade system. Blade can add complexity to your datacenter if you are not used to them. Once you understand the way they work they can be wonderful and virtualization is where blades shine. You have to think a little different way when considering blades. If you have only purchased traditional servers. For example if you already have shared storage they can be an easy and good fit. If you do not have shared storage you really need to thing about that first. Networking is very different in Blades as far as the way each blade communicates with things outside and inside the chassis. What I would recommend is to get with a trusted re-seller and go over the pros and cons of Blades.

Author Comment

ID: 40230752
These are exactly the discussion points that I was looking for. I will leave this thread up for a day or so in order to get  more invaluable input on blade vs. traditional rack and stack servers.

Author Comment

ID: 40230759
See the link below understand what I meant by going green in the data center.
LVL 62

Accepted Solution

gheist earned 150 total points
ID: 40231020
Blade servers have no advantage over 1U servers -
they take some space
they eat same electricity
they are fitted in expensive enclosure
and they are a bit more expensive than 1U servers

At advent of virtualisation 10 years ago blade servers came up as a solution to compact your datacenter even more in addition to virtualisation....

Just that - blades sometimes did not do all a server needs so we had a couple of servers aside
Virtual machines too did not pass through so well - so we had couple of non-virtual OSes
So in the end we moved 6 racks into one, with about the power consumption of 4 racks, and same cooling requirements.

Moral - dont just change everything for sake of changing....
LVL 120
ID: 40231057
Yes, I understand what |green is!

hence why if you drop air conditioning, you will be even greener, Blade Servers will require air con.

Personally I believe Blades are a thing of the past!

Higher densities are currently being rolled out than blades, using commodity hardware!
LVL 62

Expert Comment

ID: 40231173
Blades allows to compact datacenter and grow tropical fruit in freed space - there is always something good even it looks bad....
And plants become more green if you give them more CO2

Author Comment

ID: 40233399
Funny Gheist

Author Comment

ID: 40233402
Thank you gentlemen for the wonderful and insightful inputs. I will now allocate the points accordingly.

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