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The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Get Blades

IBM strengthens its BladeCenter portfolio with POWER7 blades

IBM strengthens its BladeCenter portfolio with POWER7 blades
Photo By Iakov Kalinin

Blade servers have long been like students at the back of the room, waving their hands and trying to get the teacher to notice they have an answer—a good answer.

For much of the past decade, however, blade servers just didn’t match up well against their standalone server counterparts. Blades lacked much of the capacity, functionality and scalability companies were looking for in the fast-breaking world of business IT innovation and explosive data storage growth.

That pendulum is gradually beginning to swing the other way, as sprawling server farms, increasing cooling costs and extremely complex cabling have led companies to take another look at blade servers. And in 2010, there’s a lot to like in what they’re seeing.

IBM is betting heavily on its BladeCenter* portfolio this year, as demonstrated by its April announcement unveiling three new blade-server solutions based on the latest POWER7* processor and system architecture. These new blade offerings—which target UNIX*, Linux* and IBM i environments—bring a level of performance, capacity and scalability that can be seen in larger standalone servers, yet require only a fraction of the footprint, energy and administrative complexity. The way IBM sees things, there’s a bright future in blades.

“Within the server market—regardless of whether it’s Windows*, Linux, IBM i, UNIX, whatever—blades are the fastest-growing server segment in the whole entire marketplace,” says John Biebelhausen, IBM worldwide offering manager for Power* blades. “In fact, if you look back at 2009, all of the other server segments were either flat or declining. The only server segment that saw growth in the market as a whole was blades.”

The Next Generation of POWER7 Blades

In April, IBM expanded its line of POWER* technology-based blades by bringing on board three new offerings equipped with the new POWER7 processor and system architecture.

“What we did in April is pretty significant, because we expanded our entire BladeCenter portfolio to include POWER7 processors and at the same time doubled our capacity in terms of the number of cores and the amount of performance you can realize from these new blades,” Biebelhausen says.

Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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