IBM has previewed a blade computer system specifically designed to help smaller companies simplify technology management, allowing them to consolidate numerous servers in a single system.
The new BladeCenter "S" can help reduce the 25 to 45 servers used by an average mid-size company by up to 80%.
IBM BladeCenter S is "right-sized" to sit on a desktop, plug into a standard power outlet, and manage storage and up to six blade servers at a time.
Designed to integrate applications most commonly used for business functions – such as antivirus/firewall, voice over IP, email, collaboration, back-up and recovery and file and print applications – the new system is intended to run in a typical office environment.
IBM BladeCenter S has also been designed to minimise IT administration. The system can be configured for the first time similar to how a consumer would set up a home PC. Following a "wizard-based" installation interface a user can literally plug the blade servers into the system, plug the system into a power outlet, and launch a management tool that enables easy select-and-click configuration via an "express" install.
For businesses operating branch offices, IT administrators at headquarters can easily pre-configure hundreds of blade systems to operate in the same manner and ship them out the door knowing an office employee will be able to simply plug a system in and power it up.
According to industry analyst firm Gartner, mid-size businesses run 25 to 45 servers on average to power business functions.
Approximately 10 of those servers are typically appliances designed to perform a single or specialized set of server functions such as storage, security and Web serving. Integrating these functions, along with storage, into one BladeCenter system, can help businesses dramatically reduce the physical server sprawl associated with typical data centers and potentially reduce the IT staff needed to manage the applications essential to operating day-to-day business functions.
"Growing businesses with constrained resources have been grappling with ways to leverage technology advances to improve their competitive advantage without increasing costs," says Alex Yost, vice-president and business line executive, IBM BladeCenter.
"IBM's introduction of a purpose built BladeCenter for small offices and distributed locations will now help smaller firms get the simplification and integration that the biggest companies have been getting from blades, in a package that is optimized for their business. IBM BladeCenter is the right choice for customers looking for open, green and easy IT integration."
Blade computers – which integrate servers, storage, networking and applications into one system – were initially designed to help large enterprises break from conventional methods of business computing that resulted in the proliferation of server "farms", large IT staffs to manage them and wasted energy resources.
In the five years since IBM first brought BladeCenter to market, the industry has evolved the simplified computing platform from its role powering front-end web serving applications to a commanding presence in high performance supercomputing environments.