Dell Flexes Its Muscle to Enable Rapid Blade Provisioning

By Andy Patrizio (Send Email)
Posted Jul 2, 2008


The latest step in Dell's Simplifying IT strategy is an SD card designed to ease the hassle of deploying and retaining server information in a blade server. Dell's FlexAddress SD Card will help users of PowerEdge M-Series blade servers quickly provision a server and maintain provisioning information.

Dell has expanded its blade offerings to include a virtual architecture option. FlexAddress makes it easier to assign address information to blade servers.

When a blade server is first deployed, it has to obtain network and storage connectivity from the network, which usually means bringing in several administrators to assign IP addresses, storage connectivity and network access.

Dell FlexAddress allows any M-Series blade chassis to abstract the Fibre Channel World Wide Name (WWN) and Ethernet/iSCSI Media Access Control (MAC) from the blade hardware and, instead, tie it persistently to a slot in the M1000e chassis.

If a blade has to be swapped out or replaced, that means going through the whole hassle of a fresh install all over. Dell FlexAddress deals with both issues. A new blade can be rapidly assigned address information, and if one needs to be replaced, the FlexAddress retains the information on the blade in that slot, so the new blade going in inherits all of the old assignments.

This speeds network configuration and management by virtualizing the switches across up to 8 chassis (containing up to 128 servers), making them appear as a single virtual switch.

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The modular nature of blades makes it easy to swap parts in and out, but customers need the ability to name or establish an identity for a blade at the slot level rather than have the blade establish it in order to take advantage of that modularity, according to Glen Keels, director of global relationship marketing at Dell.

"By putting the identity at the slot level, customers can easily deploy a blade rather than having to call their network admin to establish a MAC address," Keels told InternetNews.com. "It provides simplified mapping at the chassis level."

In addition to slot persistence, FlexAddress can also pre-assign information at the slot level, so if you are deploying a new blade, as soon as it goes into the slot it will have a basic identity from the WWN and MAC network. By eliminating having to call in network and storage management admins, customers can save hours, even days, Keels said.

For a small company with just a few blades, FlexAddress probably won't make a big impact, but for companies with a dynamically growing IT infrastructure or a significant number of blade servers that need repair and replacement, that can mean a lot of hours being saved, according to Charles King, principle analyst for Pund-IT.

"In a small environment, it's not going to save a lot," he said. "But in a large environment, where blades are being taken in and out on a regular basis it can be a real headache. This makes things much simpler."

The FlexAddress SD card is now available worldwide for a starting price of $499.

This article was originally published on InternetNews.com.

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