Plenty of users are surprised by the cost of a blade server project, according to Anne Skamarock, research director...
at Boulder, Colo.-based Focus Consulting and co-author of Blade Servers and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs. "A fully populated blade system may require more cooling and power than a fully loaded rack system," she cautions. And if you don't have a storage-area network (SAN) in your data center, you should establish one as the foundation for a blade project, she added.
"That's an upfront investment you should make as you prepare for a growth strategy with blades," Skamarock said. Many analysts will tell you that real returns on blades can only be seen when you buy enough blades--more than eight--to cancel the price of the chassis.
In addition, the popularity of virtualization -- a natural technology companion to blade infrastructures -- is helping to drive the adoption of blades.
Before you commit to a particular blade vendor, here are some points to consider to make sure the technology fits with your data center requirements.
- Are there any prerequisites for a diskless server or server boot over SAN options?
- Is there a set storage requirement per blade? Will it ever change?
- Which level of tech support will be provided? Is there a different level for Fibre Channel (FC) users?
- Request a vendor compatibility/interoperability matrix. Blades are a proprietary technology.
- Will you need disk drives on your server blades? Are they hot swappable?
- Don't assume that a fully loaded blade system won't cost as much to power and cool as a fully populated rack. Ask vendors to help with projected power needs and possible savings.
- What remote management features are included in the price? Some may be priced on a per-server basis.
- How many blades are supported in each chassis? Will you need a second blade center to support your growth strategy?
- Will special power connectors or cabinets be required?