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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?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

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.

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Entirely agreed. Blades are great for big datacenters that are short on room, but not much else. –  mfinni Jul 11 '11 at 15:04
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I would take the $15-45K you would spend on a blade chassis and spend it on a SAN like the Dell EqualLogic instead. Then you can get 1U servers with lots of memory and small mirrored disks for the OS and virtualize everything. –  Jeffrey Hulten Jul 11 '11 at 15:10
    
Thanks all for the input! Looking at the price of them made me wonder why management loved to have them so much. My server room is small, but it can comfortably fit a rack for all our needs. –  TylerShads Jul 11 '11 at 15:54
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Keep in mind, some bladecenter have some seriously steep power requirements. If you're only going to have three or four servers its not worth it to have an electrician come in and draw you a couple 30 amp circuits, some people don't even have the upstream capacity for this. –  SpacemanSpiff Jul 11 '11 at 17:11
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