Blade vendors sharpen up technology

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Blade vendors sharpen up technology

Collaboration is the theme at first anniversary of

A non-profit group dedicated to advancing blade server technology has celebrated its first birthday by encouraging companies to collaborate on new developments and share research. is an advocacy group spearheaded by IBM. Its members include VMware, Intel, Citrix and Nortel. 

The group held a meeting in San Francisco, gathering together equipment suppliers, service providers and venture capitalists to facilitate discussion on the future of blades.

The consensus was that collaboration between companies is needed in order for blade servers to take hold in the marketplace.

"We really thought the blade market was going to be served by all of us, not just one," said Doug Balog, chairman of and vice president of IBM's blade centre operation.

Balog said that, since its launch one year ago, has generated more than $1bn in venture capital funding for its member companies, which have deployed 30 new collaborative projects to customers.

Raymond Miles, an author and business professor at University of California Berkeley, said that collaboration among businesses is key to the advancement of blade technology.

Companies that can develop trust and work within a community will be most likely to produce breakthrough technologies. "The firms that pick up on this first are candidates for the hall of fame," said Miles.

Blade servers, which can house dozens of small, slim server machines in a single enclosure, have faced an uphill battle in gaining market share from traditional rack-mount systems.

Recent technological and economic changes, however, have played to the strengths of the smaller, more efficient blade systems, according to

"We are seeing increasing levels of complexity across the network," said Kevin Fong, managing director of venture capitalist firm Mayfield Fund.

The increasing popularity of service oriented architecture and on-demand software services mean that companies require more centralised storage and computing power, explained Fong. hopes that this need for more server muscle, combined with high energy costs, will generate more blade technology business in the coming years.

"In the first two years the main reason customers switched was density," Balog told "In 2005 and 2006 the big discussion became power and cooling." 

He added that the growing popularity of virtualisation will help boost the uptake of blade centres.

"We have found that customers associate virtualisation with blades four times more than other systems," said Balog. "I think that virtualisation on blades is a natural thing."

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