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«Enabling Business Agility Through Server Blade Technology F.508.935.4015 Sponsored by: Hewlett-Packard John Humphreys Mark Melenovsky May 2003 ...»

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Enabling Business Agility Through

Server Blade Technology


Sponsored by: Hewlett-Packard

John Humphreys Mark Melenovsky

May 2003



This white paper provides an in-depth review of the emerging market for Intel-based blade computing, including IDC's latest forecast for blade market penetration, which reflects our outlook on the transition of the customer datacenter to one based on modular server technology. This document highlights Hewlett-Packard's (HP's) role in Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA 01701 USA

enabling a blade ecosystem that includes:

! Several hardware products ! A host of management tools designed to address acquisition costs, installation/planning, deployment/system provisioning, maintenance, and upgrades ! A robust partnership program designed to provide best-of-breed solutions for infrastructure and enterprise computing environments


Today's datacenter is evolving in response to the need for technology to support the nearly constantly changing customer business environment. Yesterday's datacenters were largely built on relatively inflexible platforms that required expensive and often scarce IT management skills. This has led to a situation where, by IDC estimates, approximately 60–70% of historic server life-cycle costs are associated with ongoing

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Specifically, users are increasingly demanding more virtual and dynamic computing environments that simplify the complexity associated with managing multiple, geographically dispersed datacenters, maximizing management automation, and addressing the datacenter floor space constraints and cabling issues associated with distributed computing environments. The server blade is rapidly becoming the platform of choice in addressing these operational challenges.

Driven by customers who demand that information systems be scalable, available, and efficiently managed, the design of servers has continued to evolve. Recently, with the move to consolidated datacenters, standalone "pedestal" servers with attached storage have been giving way to rack-optimized servers attached to network storage to increase server density and better utilize valuable floor space (see Figure 1).


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Source: IDC, 2003 Blade architecture represents the next step in this server evolution: a shift to servers packaged as single boards and designed to be housed in a chassis that provides access to all shared components.

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IDC defines a server blade as "an inclusive computing system that includes processors and memory on a single board." Most notably, power, network access, and storage services are not contained on the server blade. These necessary resources, which can be shared among a collection of blades, are accessed through the backplane of the chassis — that is, the power and network interconnect bus connections are a part of the cabinet that houses a collection of the blades. Blades are easily installed and removed, and they are smaller than rack-optimized servers. Blades may be general-purpose servers, or they may be tailored to and preconfigured for specific datacenter needs (e.g., as security blades with firewall, virtual private network [VPN], and intrusion detection software preinstalled).

IDC believes that server architectures are becoming increasingly modular, and that market share for blade servers will grow to 20% of server units shipped in 2006. As Figure 2 shows, blade architecture is on its way to being a major market segment. Pedestal servers, once the only form factor in the market, will retreat from their dominant market share position in 2001 to a modest 36% share in 2006. Recent rapid growth in the rack-optimized server segment will peak in 2004, then decline slightly, as blade architectures compete successfully against rack-optimized alternatives.


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2,000,000 10,000 1,000,000 5,000

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Source: IDC Quarterly Server Forecaster, 3Q02 With blades expected to capture 20% of the market by 2006, it is becoming apparent that the form factor for server blades will not look the same. Increasingly, both early customers and server manufacturers are recognizing that there is a need for a variety of blade products. A portfolio of blade products (like those in the rack-optimized and pedestal server markets) is necessary to handle the broad spectrum of computing requirements — from front-office terminal serving and Web farms to back-office applications and as nodes in clusters for explicitly parallel computing applications targeted at the technical and financial verticals — because each requires the right tool for its specific job. The HP ProLiant BL server line can support this diversity, with front-end, mid-tier, and back-end server blades.

©2003 IDC #0C3703 3 Recognizing the demand for a variety of blade offerings, vendors will need to provide a portfolio of products that meet a large spectrum of computing needs for blades to gain broad end-user support. This focus on diversifying blade portfolios has been spotlighted recently, as manufacturers have come forward with a variety of products — each designed for particular tasks in the datacenter. However, with the introduction of the ProLiant BL e-Class and the BL p-Class (including second-generation BL20p and now the BL40p quad processor blades), HP has moved forward with the largest blade portfolio currently available in the market.

The range of HP's portfolio translates into broader applicability for blade computing and illustrates the depth of HP's commitment to the modular computing paradigm. In the approximately 18 months since entering the market, HP has signaled the strength of its convictions through a steady flow of product introductions and updates that have extended its modular opportunity. Table 1 illustrates HP's BL-line product specifications and some example workloads appropriate for each product.



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Source: IDC, 2003 4 #0C3703 ©2003 IDC Table 1 also shows that the current HP blade products are designed to be complementary: The e-Class is suited for front-end workloads; the dual-processor BL20p G2 is oriented toward more demanding workloads, enterprise applications, and large clustered environments; and the BL40p is appropriate for application and distributed database computing environments. Both the BL20p G2 and BL40p attach to the SAN for broad storage services support.

IDC sees these products from HP as the beginning of a rich blade ecosystem within the marketplace that ultimately directs the industry toward an increasingly modular environment as the foundation onto which life-cycle services — from the design and planning, to the building of a blade architecture, to the ongoing management and evolution of the business applications — can be layered to provide enhanced customer value. To this end, HP ProLiant blade products combine to encompass the many current and rapidly emerging needs and opportunities of modular computing.


Extending from this portfolio of blade products is HP's Blade Server Alliance program.

This program has become a rallying point for independent software vendors, offering customers a multitude of choices — from operating systems to applications and systems management. The goal of the program is to quickly build and enable a diverse set of solutions for bladed environments. This approach enables HP to ensure and accelerate the delivery of cost-effective, compatible, and widely available blade server architectures to a variety of verticals and market segments. The program also provides customers with a consolidated list of precertified solutions that are compatible with HP's ProLiant blade systems, reducing the risk associated with migrating to a new hardware platform.

The start of the program and the introduction of HP's first blade server were nearly simultaneous events; hence, it has had time to develop a variety of partners across the entire software ecosystem — from operating system to system management through the application layer. Examples of partners in this area are included in Table 2. (This list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of products and applications supported on blade platforms. A more comprehensive list of HP's blade partners can be found on HP's Web site.)

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Source: IDC, 2003 With the introduction of the new BL40p, HP offers a robust set of blade hardware solutions that span the uni-, dual-, and quad-processor spaces. With this set of hardware components, users can now implement essentially any application that is available to run on a rack-optimized or pedestal ProLiant server. The most common use of e-Class blades is for front-end infrastructure workloads, while p-Class two- and four-way blades are best suited for the application and database tiers of the datacenter.

HP has developed a series of templates to illustrate how the ProLiant blade offerings fit into a host of common business solutions. As an example, Figure 3 illustrates how the ProLiant blade portfolio can be leveraged for an ecommerce solution. Additional sample blade solution architectures are available on HP's Web site.

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Source: HP, 2003 HP's Blade Server Alliance program has also demonstrated other benefits, offering a proving ground for HP to evaluate new technologies and form closer relationships with specific vendors that provide customers with enhanced value. In addition to its effectiveness as a proving ground, the program is also a clear indication of HP's commitment to integrating both HP and partner technologies into a blade server platform to deliver a seamless solution to the customer — especially for blade management.

This program has already witnessed success with one of HP's early partners, Altiris, in the streamlined deployment and redeployment of HP servers. Building off the Altiris solution, HP has developed the HP ProLiant Essentials Rapid Deployment Pack (RDP) for its ProLiant server line. This GUI-based solution allows users to drag and drop preset configurations onto ProLiant servers. The RDP software also allows for blade deployment via scripting and has built-in script-generation capabilities. With respect to controlling the expense associated with deploying servers, RDP allows users to quickly and easily add blades or replace a blade should one fail. This is especially useful in the scheduling of ongoing provisioning and reprovisioning of a pool of blades.

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! HP SmartStart for streamlining single-server setup and faster consistent server configurations ! Active Update for automatic download of software updates for most server products ! Insight Manager 7, the core of the ProLiant Essentials Foundation Pack The Foundation Pack can be supplemented with ProLiant Essentials Value Packs — optional management products for enhanced server management. Value Pack products include Performance Management Pack, Rapid Deployment Pack, Recovery Server Option Pack, Integrated Lights-Out Advanced Pack, and Workload Management Pack. These products enable customers to analyze performance data, quickly provision new software, offer basic high-availability services, and dynamically allocate system resources to different applications running on a single system.

ProLiant Essentials are designed to provide seamless manageability so that RDP booting capabilities for the headless remote deployment of the blades can be combined with the remote power and remote console capabilities in HP's Insight Manager and Lights-Out management products to effectively manage the pool from even geographically dispersed locations. Rapid Deployment Pack also enables (through a multicast capability) the deployment of hundreds of blades simultaneously.

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