A server layout which casing multiple server units in a single chassis or enclosure. The architectural design allows the blade cards to hold a number of blade servers. Blade servers are an innovative technology in enterprise applications. The chassis provides the power supply, Cooling, connectivity, and storage. The blades are either rack mounted or self-standing. Each blade server is a whole computer device or service device which contain only the major components which include CPU, RAM, Network connection, and Storage. Blade server has an option for additional power supplies in case of any failure happens.
The growing need in the field of datacenter and the requirement to increase the server availability and its performance form the base for the evolution of Blade Server. The main ideology behind blade server is to provide high performance with low space, low power, and cost saving. Traditional rack mount and tower servers are utilizing enormous space and result in an increase of physical plant size for datacentres.
IBM and Intel partnership together and developed the blade server technology in the beginning of 21st century. IBM has made the specification and configurations for Blade servers open so that any manufacturers can develop the blade server. Blade.org a website was established as part of the industry community led by IBM in 2006. The mission of the industry community is to accelerate the growth and to adopt the technology.
Blade Server Technology
Blade servers are designed for high packing of components in an enclosure, they are self-reliant computer servers. Traditional rack mount servers occupy huge space and exist with a network cable and power card. Many components are removed in the blade server, but still, it functions as same as a computer. The Blade chassis controls following functions such as power, cooling, networking, various interconnects and management. The main function of the computer is to perform the following functions,
- Read the command and data,
- Manipulating the data as per the command,
- Storing the results in the memory.
In contrast to the general purpose of the computer, it is implemented along with DC power which produces heat, other components power supplies, hard drives, keyboard, mouse, storage, network connections & serial ports. They all supporting the basic function of the computer in addition to that it adds enormous heat and complexity which requires continuous maintenance and chance of failure of components.
In Blade technology, many of the components are removed. The function of the components are supported by the following
- Chassis (Blade Enclosure) – DC power supply
- Virtualized - iSCSI storage, remote console over IP.
The serial ports are discarded entirely in the blade technology. It becomes simple and cheap for manufacturers.
Datacentres management are greatly simplified by blade server technology which improves server density, Power reduction, easy server expansion and cooling costs. Blade servers are not the traditional method of packaging the components like normal computers. It’s a State- of- art technology which delivers high performance and low maintenance. The major hardware and software components are listed below
- Blade Chassis (Blade enclosure) – Casing with an integrated power which housing server blades, communication blades, connections with peripherals and internal chassis link.
- Server Blades – They are high power computer engines which comprise of 1 to 4 processors and memory
- Communication Blades – These blades are integrated with Ethernet, InfiniBand, Communication adapters and switches.
- Power and cooling system – Centralized system which provides power supply to Blade chassis and cooling component system.
- Storage system – Storage device can be either mounted on the chassis blade or outside the chassis. It could be tape storage or disk storage. Disk- less storage device also available. They could boot from external storage through SAN (Storage Area Network). This simplifies storage space management.
- Software Management Tools – Management software tools enable the administrator to monitor and control the server resources. To deploy in case of any upgradations.
- Virtualization software – It will reduce the physical resources as needed by the application. This software enables maximum usage virtually by creating virtual server configuration which will reduce the physical resources.
Chassis will present in all computers, blade chassis will perform many computing services which normal computer chassis failed to do. Non-blade computers are hot, bulky and space inefficient. They will not perform at its capacity when sharing between computers. In the case of Blade chassis, all services are in the same place and distribution between the computers are effective.
DC voltage is required for operating computers, but power delivered from the source is AC which is more than the actual power required within the computer. Converting AC to DC PSUs (Power Supply Units) are required. Failure of one power supply will affect the operations of the computer. To ensure that failure will not affect the operations redundant power supply is needed. Which occupies the space and adding heat to the system.
In Blade chassis, a single blade will provide power to all blades within the enclosure. The single source of the power supply can either be in the enclosure itself or through separate PSU supplying power to multiple blade chassis. In case of any PSU failure, blade chassis will regulate the individual blade server performance and continues till it matches with the regular power.
During any actions or process, heat is generated by mechanical or electrical components. Heat must be exiled immediately to ensure the smooth operation of the system. As in most computers, heat in blade enclosure also exhausted by fans. Most of the high performance computer system failed due to underestimating the heat generated by the system and capacity of the fan to remove the heat. The main advantage of the blade enclosure is it has control logic that tunes the cooling system as per the system requirement automatically. Blade enclosure provided with high capacity and adjustable fans.
The shared power in the blade servers does not produce heat as much as traditional servers. In the meantime increase in the concentration of blade server structure will increase the demand for cooling more compared to traditional servers. In simple terms, fully occupied blade server requires more cooling than the fully occupied traditional servers.
In today’s world, data transfer becomes more important. All companies require the data’s to be transferred as fast as possible. They using different media (Copper and fibre) to transfer the data. Additional engineering is required in design and manufacturer of the blade. It should be high in capacity and occupies less space. Traditional servers require more caballing and consume more spacing. The high-speed network requires expensive and ultra-speed integrated circuit and media.
The blade chassis comes with one or more network buses to which the blade will connect and the ports in available in the single location. Multiple blades are connected to single chassis. This will reduce the cable cost and aggregate them to fewer ports. These may either present in the chassis itself or in networking blades.
For a computer to function operating system is required for the hard disk. Other data, applications are not required to be available on the hard disk itself. It can be stored outside the server through any storage methods like Fire Wire, SCSI, and SATA etc. Storage in Blade servers can be removed and placed in a blade enclosure. So that it can be shared with other blades also. The blade servers have the ability to boot from external storage through SAN (Storage Area Network). This may have better reliability than systems having individual disks on each blade. This makes the blades disk free.
Connectivity in blade servers is always limited. Only Ethernet ports are available to connect to the chassis. Though the other connectivity VGA and USB are present; they are only limited to monitor connections, other I/O devices mouse and keyboard. There may be more than one switch unit in the chassis it will be used as alternate in case of any failure happens in a single network or connection to multiple networks.
Hot swapping is one of the unique features in blade server chassis. Without turning off the chassis, new units can be added, existing units can be replaced or removed. It can be applicable to PSUs, storage, blade servers & network. If hot swapping coupled with additional PSU will give significant gain. For example, if one PSU went down, the other can take care and maintain the system without affecting the operations.
Today companies started moving from their traditional rack mounted server to Blade server. All manufacturers are working on the next generation Blade servers. Sales report by all the Blade server manufacturers is in positive trend only. To drive the business more efficiently growth of the social network, mobile and cloud blade server needs a new approach in process engine, data center and also optimization of servers for the cloud, convergence, big data, and evolving Softwares. HP already line up with ninth generation (Gen9) servers. The main aim is to reduce the cost and complexity. It is predicted that by 2019, the Blade server market is about $15.8 billion. Technavio’s market research predicted the steady growth of Blade server market till 2021.
For making the business profitable and reliable Blade servers definitely serves the purpose. Blade servers high server performance reduce the complexity and maintenance cost and deployment is simplified which do not require any system shut down. Reduce in infrastructure costs. It can host thousands of applications supported by Windows, Linux and more. Overall Blade Servers will increase the efficiency of datacentre performance.