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Egenera Strikes Back With Blade Upgrade

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Feb 11, 2005


Egenera, one of the first companies to propose blade servers as an alternative to larger, massive machines, is striking back at rivals as it boosts virtualization capabilities in its blade management software. The blade server pioneer has revamped its blade server software to differentiate itself from IBM and HP.

The launch comes as IBM and HP command roughly two-thirds of the market for commodity blades. So Egenera is aiming to grab share by offering customers a different option: software that does much of the work associated with hardware servers from larger rivals.

The company, which brought its blades to market four years ago, has unveiled the fourth version of its BladeFrame software. Egenera CEO Bob Dutkowski said the new software cuts down on the work customers must do to maintain their computing systems -- more than any other blade server has to this point.

Dutkowski said part of Egenera's value proposition is that customers don't need the IP switches, Fibre channel switches and host bus adapters associated with blades and other machines. Customers can house 24 thin servers in the BladeFrame chassis without a mess of cables to connect them.

The Marlboro, Mass., company's software architecture, Processing Area Network (PAN) Manager, virtualizes the chores of those devices, Dutkowski said. The software also allows enterprises to move software licenses around to servers that are being used, whereas traditional blades have a software license for every device.

These cost savings and return-on-investment factors, he argued, were significant enough to help Egenera win 60 new Fortune 500 customers in 2004 alone. He also said customers were attracted to BladeFrame's utilization rate of 70 to 100 percent, a far cry from the 10- to 15-percent resource utilization from other machines.

Available now, BladeFrame 4.0 has a new, more user-friendly GUI and more utility computing features than previous versions.

For example, customers may modify the configuration of a running server on the fly with no downtime. System administrators can also add, remove, or change the properties of peripherals or modify failover policies in seconds with PAN software.

The improved product also features enhancements to its virtual machine technology, which allows users to run multiple applications on a single server. Through PAN, BladeFrame offers automatic failover and load balancing of virtual machines. This is made possible through the integration of PAN Manager with VMware's GSX Virtual Server.

Egenera is also broadening its horizons with regard to chip architecture support. Egenera has offered BladeFrame with Intel chips, but soon the company will deliver two-way and four-way BladeFrames based on AMD's popular Opteron chips, which enterprise value for their inherent 64-bit computing support.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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