Compaq vanquishes appliance servers with its Proliant blades

Compaq claims it has condemned appliance servers to niche markets with the release of its blade servers. The company believes...

Compaq claims it has condemned appliance servers to niche markets with the release of its blade servers. The company believes today's users want flexible, re-usable servers rather than dedicated systems, writes Eric Doyle.

Blade servers are board-level systems that have a compact design and low-heat output, which allows several systems to be racked together. This means they take up a lot less space than most appliance server designs and offer users the ability to configure and reconfigure each server as requirements change.

Compaq's industry standard server business manager Iain Stephens said, "Appliance servers have not been a success because they fail to offer the flexibility users require. IT departments do not want sealed products, they want the flexibility to redeploy each server to extend its useful life."

The Proliant BL 10e server blades use Intel's ultra-low-voltage 700MHz Pentium III processors backed by an initial 512Mbytes of memory, expandable to 1Gbyte. The on board disc drive has a capacity of up to 30Gbytes.

The blades plug into a 3U (135mm high) rackable enclosure that provides network connections and redundant, hot-plug power supplies and cooling fans. Each enclosure can hold 24 boards, which means a 42U rack cabinet can hold up to 240 blade servers.

Over the course of the next year Compaq plans to extend and supplement the current 10e blades with two-way and four-way versions.

Stephens said the blade servers will allow greater flexibility and space saving in datacentres. In conjunction with Compaq's Adaptive Infrastructure and management software the blades can be clustered for load balancing. They can also be partitioned to allow several applications to run safely on a single server and allow dynamic scaling when loads peak or fall. The individual status of each server means that Windows and Linux systems can be mounted side by side.

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