IBM Readies Rugged Blade Server for Telcos

IBM next week plans to
unveil a new, rough and rugged blade server
for the telecommunications industry that is also
sturdy enough to deal with harshest of environments, such as military
operations.


The Armonk, N.Y. firm will demonstrate the eServer BladeCenter T at SuperComm 2003 in Atlanta next Tuesday. Blade servers
are prized in the industry for their ability to pack resepctable computing
power into thin, pizza-box- width machines without the mess of cables and
other traditional interconnects.


Several blade servers are then slid into a chassis, which is decidedly
smaller than the classic refrigerator-sized mainframe. HP, Dell and Sun
Microsystems are among the many vendors who offer such hardware, while RLX
Technologies and Egenera are smaller purveyors of the craft.


Tony Evans, Vice President, Telecommunications, IBM Systems Group, said the eServer BladeCenter T system is geared for deployment in demanding
environments but in order for it to be taken seriously, it has to meet
certain gold standards of durability. The model T has been certified by both
Network Equipment Building System 3 (NEBS 3) and European Telecommunications
Standard Industry (ETSI).


Evans said these specifications test it to make sure it will continue to function
despite extreme hot or cold temperatures and unstable environments that
might otherwise spell disaster for less rugged machines. They also stand the
greatest chance of making it through lightning strikes, airborne
contaminants, fires and electrostatic discharge.


Why is it geared for the telecommunications industry? Basically, telco
outfits require that servers be placed in several locations with some
proximity to the area their serving. Positioned in a data center on a
mountain, a desert, or in an area prone to harsh winds or precipitation, the NEBS-3
server has the best chance of maintaining applications that require almost
constant uptime.


With NEBS 3 certification, the BladeCenter T will help network equipment
providers reduce the time and costs associated with creating applications
for mobile network infrastructures and softswitches for voice over IP
(VoIP), as well as other storage, networking and computing components. The model T also has specialized telecommunications features that do
not appear in other blade server systems, such as a Telcom Alarm Panel,
which provides shorter chassis depth. This allows the servers to fit in 600
millimeter racks.


Like the other BladeCenter offerings, T is powered by Intel processors. IBM
said these chips, coupled with enterprise-grade Linux, are ideal for future
telecommunications applications. IBM has also received endorsement from Nortel Networks, which has designed a switch specifically for the BladeCenter chassis.


IBM’s move is not without precedence. In February, Sun Microsystems
delivered
a NEBS-3-certified server: the Sun Fire Netra 1280.


The IBM eServer BladeCenter T systems are planned for release next year,
coupled with IBM Service Provider Delivery Environment (SPDE) framework,
which is designed to give wireline and wireless telecommunications service
providers the flexibility to introduce new voice, text and Internet services. Evans also promised performance scalability and density enhancements to BladeCenter before the year is through, but wouldn’t reveal exactly what they would be.


Pricing for BladeCenter T is not yet available.

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