Dell Delivers on Blade Server Promise

Dell finally made
good
on its promise of delivering blade servers to the market Monday when it
shipped its PowerEdge 1655MC, which is targeted for data centers,
server consolidation projects, thin-client computing and
high-performance
clusters.


Austin’s Dell said the blade server fits the slim, 3U
(five-and-a-quarter
inches) form factor, yet harnesses the performance of as many as 12
Intel
Pentium III processors with server deployment and management software.
Announced last April, PowerEdge 1655MC consists of a box with six
dual-processor
server blades, SCSI hard disk drives with integrated hardware RAID,
hot-plug
redundant power supplies and cooling fans, an integrated management
card and
redundant Ethernet switches.


Aligning its blade purpose with the likes of competitors RLX
Technologies,
Egenera, and IBM in the industry — that is, consolidating space and
cutting
down on messy cables — Dell argues the single box lowers hardware
costs
associated with current dual-processor, 1U rack servers by a third
because
components are shared across the six blade servers.


Indeed, Randy Groves, vice president of Dell’s Enterprise Systems
Group,
said the 1655MC will reduce cables by up to 80 percent and rack space
by
nearly 50 percent.”


It’s not enough to just have the hardware. Blades need competent
software to
run the boxes and Dell believes it has it in its Open
Manage Remote Install
software, which allows customers to remotely
tune
hundreds of blade servers at the same time. Each enclosure comes with
an
integrated Embedded Remote Access Module that monitors chassis and
server
blade status. Software can be installed locally through a USB
connection or
remotely with Dell’s OpenManage Remote Install.


Geared for the low-end market, PowerEdge 1655MC has a starting price
point
of $3,298 for an enclosure and one blade server. It supports Microsoft
Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Red Hat Linux.


Dell isn’t the only firm shipping the modular servers. Announced
in
September, IBM’s next round of blade servers will also start hitting
the
shelves this week. The eServer BladeCenter line is targeted for the
enterprise to help businesses pare back the total cost of ownership.
IBM counts AOL Time Warner as one of its most high-profile customers in this segment.

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