Dell Eyes Bigger Slice of Blade Market

Just as some analysts believe the market for blade servers is about to heat up, Dell moved forward with its most significant modular server, unveiling the PowerEdge 1855 for powerful computing at a lower cost. The systems vendor hopes to lure new customers by charging less for its new blade servers than it does for its 1U rack systems.

“Customers are looking for great server technology, better density and savings in power and cooling to ease management; but they're not willing to pay a premium for blade servers over traditional 1U and 2U rack servers”

—Bruce Kornfeld, director of enterprise marketing, Dell

Dell sees the PowerEdge 1855 as the perfect answer for clients who need enterprise-grade computing in a smaller form factor and lower price point than 1U rack servers.

According to Bruce Kornfeld, director of enterprise marketing at Dell, the 1855 supports up to 10 servers in a 7U chassis and is geared for companies that rely on large Web farms and high-performance computing clusters.

While that demographic is fairly common among Fortune 500 or larger companies, these businesses don't necessarily have much data center space and are preoccupied by cooling constraints. This makes the 1855, a smaller, denser product over traditional rack-mounted systems, attractive, Kornfeld said.

For an idea of the the power, Kornfeld told internetnews.com Dell blades provide up to 43 percent greater performance per square foot, with up to 62 percent more blade servers than Dell 1U servers in a 42U rack. As with the Dell 1655 blade, the Round Rock, Texas-based concern's new machine is managed by the same OpenManage software that runs Dell's PowerEdge servers.

There are also new modules that blend chassis and blade management functions in a single interface. Such consolidation of rack cables with blades can reduce the number of cables by up to 70 percent, a key for cutting down on data center clutter, Kornfeld said.

"Customers are looking for great server technology, better density and savings in power and cooling to ease management; but they're not willing to pay a premium for blade servers over traditional 1U and 2U rack servers," Kornfeld said.

Supporting Windows and Linux operating systems, the PowerEdge 1855 is driven by two-way Intel Xeon EM64T processors. It also features PCI Express interconnect technology, up to 16 gigabytes of DDR2 memory, hot plug drives and redundant power and cooling features.

Available now, the chassis pricing for the 1855 starts at $2,999, with blade servers selling for $1,699 apiece. A half-populated blade enclosure starts at $11,494 while a fully populated enclosure costs $19,989.

Key to Dell's enterprise success, Kornfeld said, is the company's ability to "drive standards further and further into the data center." He said Dell is the "only business that is completely focused on driving standards."

IDC believes the market for blade servers will reach grow at a compound annual growth rate of 106 percent through 2008, topping out at $7.2 billion.

It makes sense that Dell is making this aggressive move. IDC analyst John Humphreys told internetnews.com a new product from Dell is "pretty warranted," especially since Dell only holds about 3 percent of the market in terms of total revenue.

"Customers will view this as further evidence that blades are a market place that is viable. The Dell endorsement means there is volume there. The 1655 got into a market place early and that doesn't work in the Dell model."

Dell rivals IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems all sing similar songs these days. Blade server market leader IBM claims to be the most open with its BladeCenter system, a product it launched for developers in September.

One of the first major vendors to have success with blades was HP, although several smaller vendors such as Egenera and RLX Technologies also blazed the blade trails, albeit with less clout. Sun uses blades for special interest areas such as storage.

Article originally appeared on Internetnews.com.

This article was originally published on Nov 16, 2004
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