Egenera Strikes Back With Blade Upgrade


Egenera Inc., one of the first companies to propose blade servers as an alternative to larger, massive machines, is striking back at rivals as it
boosts virtualization capabilities in its blade management software.


The launch comes as IBM and HP command roughly two-thirds of the market for commodity blades. So Egenera is aiming to grab share by offering customers a different option: software that
does much of the work associated with hardware servers from larger rivals.


The company, one of the first to market with blades four years ago, has unveiled
the fourth version of its BladeFrame software. Egenera CEO Bob Dutkowski said
the new software cuts down on the work customers need to maintain their
computing systems — more than any other blade server has to this point.


Dutkowski said part of Egenera’s value proposition is that customers don’t
need the IP switches, fibre channel switches and host
bus adapters associated with blades and other machines. Customers can house
24 thin servers in the BladeFrame chassis without a mess of cables to
connect them.


The Marlboro, Mass., company’s software architecture, Processing Area
Network (PAN) Manager, virtualizes the chores of those devices, Dutkowski
said. The software also allows customers to move software licenses around to
servers that are being used, whereas traditional blades have a software
license for every device.


These cost savings and return-on-investment factors, he argued, were
significant enough to help Egenera win 60 new Fortune 500 customers in 2004
alone. He also said customers were attracted to BladeFrame’s utilization
rate of 70 to 100 percent, a far cry from the t10 to 15 percent resource
utilization from other machines.


Available now, BladeFrame 4.0 has a new, more user-friendly GUI
and more utility computing features than previous versions.


For example, customers may now modify the configuration of a running server
on the fly with no down time. System administrators can also add, remove or
change the properties of peripherals or modify failover policies in seconds
with PAN software.


The improved product also features enhancements to its virtual machine
technology, which allows users to run multiple applications on a single
server. Through PAN, BladeFrame now offers automatic failover and load
balancing of virtual machines. This is made possible through the integration
of PAN Manager with VMware’s GSX Virtual Server.


Egenera is also broadening its horizons with regard to chip architecture
support. Egenera has offered BladeFrame with Intel chips, but
soon the company will deliver two-way and four-way BladeFrames based on AMD’s popular Opteron chips, which enterprise value for their inherent 64-bit computing support.

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