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OmniCluster Puts New Spin on Server Blade Concept

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jun 7, 2001


OmniCluster has jumped into the rapidly growing server blades market with its SlotServer 1000.

The vendor''s approach is unique, however, as SlotServer requires no other specific hardware. Rather, it slips into a PCI slot of any box and is compatible with virtually any third-party software.

OmniCluster has jumped into the rapidly growing server blades market with its SlotServer 1000.

OmniCluster "wants to be the smartest way to expand," and the company believes expanding from within is the best way to accomplish this, Christopher Fleck, president and CEO of OmniCluster told ServerWatch.

SlotServer offers many advantages for enterprises looking to save on cost, space, and power.

OmniCluster claims a total cost of ownership for SlotServer that is 50 percent lower than that of similar products. It claims a space savings of nearly 90 percent. OmniCluster also claims a ten-fold power efficiency improvement. SlotServer uses 10 Watts per server when active; the box it resides in uses 100 Watts.

OmniCluster also claims a four-fold improvement in reliability. This is acheived in part because each SlotServer requires fewer components inherent to the boxes, like fans and hard drives, and in part because each card carries its own IP address and is designed to stay up even when the host server goes down.

SlotServer is highly configurable, allowing enterprises to determine how each card will function and making it possible for a single box to contain a firewall, Web server, and failover solution. From what Fleck has observed, however, it is more typical for a customer to put as many Web servers as possible in a single box and limit firewalls to one per box.

OmniCluster tested the simultaneous use of seven SlotServers in one box without encountering any problems. Theoretically, up to 15 SlotServers can be used in one machine.

OmniCluster''s other product, the Virtual Disk Manager, provides SlotServer users with a GUI-based, software management tool to facilitate the setup of the product''s virtual disk drives. Although Fleck admits that installing Virtual Disk Manager may be complicated, he believes it is relatively easy to use thereafter, as the application is purely drag-and-drop.

SlotServer uses "BusCluster Technology" for its network interface. BusCluster technology was developed by OmniCluster and is so-named because the servers are clustered on the PCI bus. An Ethernet network interface option is also available.

SlotServer has been available since late March and is currently being distributed by OEM-embedded suppliers, value-added resellers, and integrators. It is priced starting at $600 per server. The product works with the Windows 2000, Red Hat Linux, and FreeBSD operating systems.

Founded in May 2000, OmniCluster is a spin-off of IBM, which currently has a stake in OmniCluster. Other shareholders in the privately held company include H.I.G. Ventures, CrossBow Ventures, and Cenetec.

Further details about the SlotServer, including the hardware user manual, can be downloaded from OmniCluster''s site.


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Bringing RAID Blades to the High Density Server Market


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