Vendors readily talk the talk in promoting the ”value proposition” of server blades: Just add a blade to the chassis and scale to as much processing as you need. But do blades walk the walk in delivering the goods?
”Many users are clearly disappointed in blades’ failure to deliver the benefits promised,” said Bob Gill, chief research officer of the TheInfoPro (TIP) research firm in an interview with internetnews.com. According to a report just released by TIP, many users who have installed and tested blades report putting widespread deployment on hold.
”The top reasons I heard in my interviews for getting blades were improved manageability, cost, space and energy savings,” said Gill. ”But those were the same areas they complained about [after installation].”
For example, Gill said he repeatedly heard from blade users that they couldn’t fully populate a cabinet with blades because that density gave off too much heat. Instead cabinets were filled to closer to half their capacity undercutting cost, and space promises. ”If you can’t fully populate the chassis, it’s like buying an expensive razor and then finding out the blades aren’t that cheap,” said Gill.
Despite this grim assessment, TIP said roughly two-thirds of those it interviewed envision some value in a blade approach in the longer term (2006+) and have them in their purchase plans. Also, 25 percent of those interviewed said they are aggressively deploying blades that are critical to operations.
TIP said it conducted 70 in-depth, one-on-one interviews with server professionals at Fortune 1000 companies.
Mark Potter, director of HP’s BladeSystem division, said HP is investing heavily in the technology, and that it’s the fastest-growing segment in the company’s server business, with 115 percent growth in revenue year-to-year.