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Benefits of Adding Blades to Your IT Environment

Incorporating blade systems into IT environments can provide numerous benefits including ease of management and reporting, networking options, and built-in redundancy, not to mention power consumption and footprint savings.

When weighing the costs and benefits of blades, it is important to understand that blade enclosures house individual blade servers and are installed into racks. The enclosures offer a range of benefits that help keep the costs of management, rack space, and energy consumption down without sacrificing any processing power. Two comparable and popular blade enclosures are the Dell PowerEdge M1000e and HP BladeSystem c7000 Enterprise Enclosure. Taking into account the real estate cost of data center rack space, or the often limited space when hosting your own equipment, the space savings provided by these 10U enclosures are ideal.

The blade servers that can be installed into Dell M1000e and HP c7000 range in functionality in that some are equivalent to a 1U server while others are the equivalent to a 4U server in terms of compute capacity. This means these 10U enclosures could pack the punch of up to 32 1U servers, 16 2U servers, or 8 4U servers. In all of these cases, 32Us of compute capacity are being squeezed into 10Us of space. Anyone who has received pricing from a data center knows there is a big difference between renting out a half-rack of space compared to a full rack.

Another important benefit made possible by blade enclosures is easier networking. The I/O module slots in the rear of the enclosures offer multiple connectivity options. They can be equipped with simple ethernet passthrough module, copper switches, fiber switches, and fiber or SAS based SAN switches. These switches can range anywhere from 1Gb up to 40Gb in speed, offering great flexibility. Having the switch functionality within the blade enclosure also adds to the space savings as it removes the need for additional rack space for external switches. Additionally, the close proximity and network mapping within the enclosure allows for better quality networking. Each I/O slot has dedicated paths to each and every blade slot to communicate to all blades installed in the enclosure.

The pooling of power and cooling supplies within the enclosures provides built-in redundancy. Because the switches are internal to the enclosure, they also have access to the six power supplies that run the enclosure, making it virtually impossible for the switches to ever suffer from power supply failure. This also increases the cost savings and footprint since many IT buyers purchase dual power supplies for external switches. Another prime benefit from the built-in redundancy is that the enclosures can sustain multiple fan failures and still be able to keep the blades cool enough for normal operation.

The power supplies and configuration of the blade enclosures provide additional benefits for cost savings. The six power supplies in the enclosures can be set up in different modes of redundancy, all can be set to on, or they can be in a 4+2 configuration with two on standby. The power configuration selected will depend on the configuration of the rest of the enclosure. The blade enclosures also have two types of power supplies available, standard and platinum. The option of platinum power supplies is a great choice when it comes to having a solution in place that requires as little power as possible, and platinum power supplies offer the optimal power efficiency. In the long run, blade enclosures will consume less power than the equivalent standalone hardware would consume.

The final primary benefit of blade systems involves their built-in management and reporting functionality. The Dell M1000e and HP c7000 both have the option for dual redundant management modules to be installed. They are set up in an Active/Standby configuration and failover automatically. These modules provide simplistic and centralized management of all blades installed in an enclosure. This means you can access a single IP address, then view and manage all of the blades within the enclosure, eliminating the need to connect to each server on an individual basis. Furthermore, the blades installed into the enclosure come standard with the premium level of Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) features from their respective manufacturer, without the need to purchase additional licensing. In other words, a remote console session for any blade installed in an enclosure can be launched from the management module IP, without additional licensing or configuration. Having this centralized management also eliminates the need to setup email alerts for individual pieces of hardware. These settings are set up on the management module and monitor everything attached to the enclosure.

Even from a high-level perspective, it is easy to see that blade technology offers numerous benefits to help ease the impact IT infrastructure has on operation costs. Key benefits include the space savings the blade enclosures offer compared to their equivalent standalone equipment, the more efficient and flexible networking options provided by the internal networking equipment of the enclosures, the level of hardware redundancy provided by pooling together all power and cooling components in an enclosure, and the single point of management and reporting the enclosure management modules provide without needing additional licensing.

With these features and benefits in mind, there are countless configuration options to fit the needs of your company’s specific goals and budget. With seemingly limitless options, the pre-sales engineers at Aventis Systems will work with you to determine how a blade solution could benefit your IT infrastructure. Contact us to set up an appointment.

To learn more, listen to a discussion between IT experts about blade benefits in our webinar recording or browse the slides below.

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