Skip to main content
Rack em – Stack em – Pack em!

This industry has a talent for taking a simple concept and smothering it with technical detail. I’ve keeping an eye on the blade debate, which is all about the arrival of modular Servers and have decided that it’s becoming a little fuzzy as we try and identify the dividing line between a Server on a card, ‘a Blade’ and a Server on a card’, a Brick.

First of all, we need to understand that Blades and Bricks aren’t mutually exclusive and that a Blade is only one component of a larger, high-density Server unit, rather like the half-human occupants of a Borg cube in a Star Trek movie. With IBM’s latest offering, based on Intel’s Xeon processor, we’re now up to a possible 84 Blades crammed on to a single rack but rather than clearing-out banks of older Servers at a single sweep, the arrival of this tightly stacked blade technology in the Server room represents an evolution rather than a replacement for more traditional Big Iron computing and I would expect to see the two coexist quite happily.

Blades represent a great clustering solution through offering many Servers in a single unit but Bricks, by adding more components to each Blade, - a chunkier Blade if you like -, represents a more interchangeable, scalable solution, which is more appropriate for resource sharing.

It’s not difficult to understand why Blades are going to be a hot topic for some time to come. This is after all a much cheaper way of adding processing capacity without the extra Datacentre costs of space and power. Sitting in the middle of an IT recession, businesses are increasingly cost and productivity conscious and Gartner predicts that the market will grow to $3.7 Billion by 2006.

But any new technology solution carries it’s own health warning and Blades or even Bricks aren’t immune. Standards and compatibility issues still need to be resolved and it’s still early days for management software and it’s argued that Blades aren’t really well-suited to Enterprise applications, although with IBM and indeed Sun Microsystems now playing in this space, I would expect many of today’s problems and objections to have been resolved by mid-2003.

So the Bricks over Blades argument that has recently popped-up is a little specious as both terms really appear to represent one and the same thing, high-end modular computing, not really very different, in principle to slotting multi-function cards into the back of one’s PC, some being more functional and thicker than others.

Moving forward eighteen months and large companies will increasingly start to consider the nature of the Server solution they require. Big Iron, the kind of expression one associates with Unisys and its very successful ES7000 or Server Blades – or Bricks – from IBM or Hewlett Packard or Sun perhaps. Of course, the final decision will be determined by the environment or the application, a solution best suited to one or the other, clustered or Enterprise perhaps?

Move forward to 2006 and I suspect we’ll simply take the choice for granted, choosing the right Server for the task in much the same way as we might choose a family car.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…
A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…