Blade servers and rack servers are two excellent equipment options for enterprises Read up on these two server styles today and see how they compare.
Blade servers and rack servers are two types of servers used in enterprise environments, each appropriate for different settings and data demands. Other elements like density, power consumption and cable management are areas where one type of server may offer an advantage, depending on your setup. Both designs are distinct from traditional tower servers, which are large and stand alone, similar to tower PCs.
Let’s break down these two server styles and how they compare.
What Is a Blade Server?:
Blade servers have a modular design, packing more servers into a smaller area and supporting scalability. They’re thinner and typically have some components built-in, including CPUs, integrated network controllers, memory and, sometimes, storage drives. The large server chassis, mounted in a server rack, has the important role of managing multiple blade servers at once. It provides power and facilitates components like video cards. The chassis also includes spaces for blade servers to slide into.
This design allows blade servers to operate more efficiently with fewer internal components. Users can cluster the blade servers together or operate them individually. Blade servers are great for achieving high availability and conducting maintenance or upgrades without taking the server offline. They can also scale to high processor densities, but those setups need to support more demanding thermal and electrical loads.
Blade Server Pros and Cons:
With such high-performing capabilities, there are a few advantages and possible trade-offs that come with blade servers.
Pros of Blade Servers:
Some pros of blade servers include:
Power management: The chassis can efficiently supply power to multiple servers and reduce power consumption overall.
Cable management: You only need to run one cable to the chassis, making it easier to manage. You could also potentially avoid safety concerns from tangled wires.
Hot-swappable: You can configure blade servers to be hot-swappable for easy maintenance and repairs. They’re simple to remove and replace individually without taking the system offline. This setup also supports redundancy.
High processing power: These servers can achieve very high processing power without taking up significant space.
Versatility: You can host operating systems, databases, software, web services, applications and more on blade servers, which often function as multi-purpose equipment.
High availability: Between centralized management, hot-swapping, load balancing and clustered failover, blade servers offer high availability.
Cons of Blade Servers:
Higher upfront costs: The initial costs of blade servers, including deployment and configuration, are typically higher than rack servers. Ongoing costs might be lower thanks to simplified maintenance and reduced power consumption, but those initial costs can require considerable capital. While the blades themselves may be more cost-effective than individual rack servers, the entire cost is more significant when you fill up the chassis with blades.
Higher cooling costs: Since blade servers have such high densities, they often need more robust climate control mechanisms. These can drive up the cost and contribute more to energy demands than the cooling requirements of rack servers.
Less onboard storage: With their smaller size, blade servers typically have less native storage space than rack servers. They may need to be connected to external SANs or another solution to accommodate future needs.
Blade Server Applications:
Blade servers are best suited to application-specific environments that need high processing power and many servers without much physical space to spare. The dense setup and high performance can help in these settings, as well as those that need to stay scalable. Blade servers can also better meet energy efficiency goals.
If you know you need a high number of servers — around 10 or more — blade servers are generally more cost-effective. A fully configured chassis is typically more cost-effective than the same number of rack servers.
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