Can anyone give a real description of a blade server and what it's advantages are besides space? Are there any disadvantages? And also, do you think smaller companies (think around maybe 4-5 actual servers) should invest in them or stick with the standard rack-mount with servers inside the rack?
The main benefits are space, power and cooling. The drawbacks from my perspective is cost. The individual blades are about as expensive as a 1U server, but the chassis is usually very costly. Plus if you have a chassis failure as a small business, you lose all your servers in that chassis, instead of just one. Unless you plan to buy two chassis and use virtualization/private cloud to move your 'servers' around, I would avoid the blade server route.