Dell Intros Green Blade Servers, Targets HP, IBM

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Dell, Round Rock, Texas, on Monday unveiled its new PowerEdge M-Series blade server chassis and blades, and said it compares favorably in terms of power consumption and performance with offerings from arch-rivals Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif., and IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

The PowerEdge M-Series blade servers are based on a 10U chassis which supports up to 16 half-height blades, said Mike Roberts, senior product planning manager for the line. Later this year, Dell will also offer full-height blades for the chassis, Roberts said.

Dell is offering two types of blades. The M600 blades support one or two quad-core Intel Xeon processors, while the M605 blades support one or two quad-core AMD Opteron processors. Both include two processor sockets.

The chassis has an integrated LCD panel to aid in troubleshooting and integration, as well as an integrated KVM switch. Clients can either use that KVM switch, or plug the chassis into their own rack-mount KVM switch, Roberts said.

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Also included is Dell's FlexIO switch technology which allows the included Gbit Ethernet switch to be easily swapped out for 10-Gbit Ethernet or Cisco InfiniBand connectivity, Roberts said. Customers can also add one of three Cisco LAN switches and two Brocade 4-Gbit Fibre Channel switches, he said.

Dell is also focusing on the green side of the IT industry, said Albert Esser, vice president of power and cooling infrastructure for the vendor.

Because of the company's new energy-efficient power supplies and power-management software, the PowerEdge M-Series blade servers use up to 19 percent less power and get up to 25 percent better performance per Watt than similarly-configured HP BladeSystem c-Class blade servers, Esser said. The Dell models also use 12 percent less energy and get up to 28 percent better performance per Watt than IBM BladeCenter H models, he said.

"For a full rack, over the course of a year, using the M600 blades vs. HP's BL460c blades, customers can save 3,200 Watts of power consumption for an annual savings of $2,600 per year per rack," Esser said. "Green is not just good for the planet, it's good for the budget."

The new M-Series will be available through Dell Direct and through its channel partners, said Rick Becker, vice president of solutions at Dell Product Group.

About 80 percent of Dell's current channel partners are selling enterprise products, and so will be able to sell the M-Series, Becker said. The company has lots of on-line training and certification courses available for the product, he said.

Mark Mathews, operations manager at Solutions Management Group, a Bettendorf, Iowa-based solution provider whose product line includes Dell, said that his company has sold a lot of Dell's rack mount servers, but no blade servers yet.

"Our analysts just haven't focused on this part of the market yet," Mathews said. "And Dell hasn't really done much in this space either."

Whether Solutions Management Group sells Dell's new blade servers depends on how quickly customers want to adopt blade server architecture, Mathews said. "We've had great success with their rack servers," he said. "It seems like Dell will do well with their blades as well."

Roberts said that Dell has taken the rap from its competitors who in the last couple of years have perpetuated a number of myths about his company. However, he said, this product has been in development for the last 2 years, and the company has applied for 30 patents on the product.

"There are a lot of myths around Dell's blade server vision," he said. "We want to dispel them."

The new M-Series blade servers are slated to start shipping this week. The chassis lists for $5,999, while the blades list starting at $1,849 including one AMD or Intel processor, a 36-Gbyte hard drive, 1 Gbyte of memory, and two Gbit Ethernet connectors.

With the release of the new M-Series, Dell plans to continue production of its model 1955 blade servers for two more quarters as customers transition to the new products, Becker said.