Marlboro, Mass.-based blade server company Egenera Inc. has been chosen to provide the server infrastructure for Maryland-based GXS Inc., a business-to-business (B2B) provider of an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and supply chain integration platform. The Egenera Bladeframe servers will replace all of GXS's existing servers from companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and IBM, said John Radko, GXS' chief technology strategist.
GXS began looking at Egenera platforms about two years ago and decided to mainstream the company's data center with the blade servers. Radko will replace existing servers in the data center of about 200 boxes with Egenera blade servers as those boxes need replacing, he said.
Blade servers streamline GXS data center
"We have an incredible variety of servers in our data center from companies like Sun Microsystems Inc., HP, IBM, all different models running various OS versions. Operations had become complicated to manage. It is confusing with the different failover technologies and trying to manage the different technologies from so many different vendors. We decided to streamline," Radko said of the GXS data center.
"Having a standard set of servers from a single vendor, we can become very skilled with (their architecture). Intel/AMD blades are attractive because they can scale down, as well as up. We can easily deploy a single blade for a particular need if required," Radko said.
GXS went with a blade platform to squeeze in as much processing power per square foot in its data center as possible.
The biggest difference between Egenera's blades and other blade servers is that Egenera servers are diskless and have no personality. All the components of a traditional server are stripped out, so each blade contains only a processor and memory. The blades are defined by the software running on them and are best for high-end computing environments, said Susan Davis, Egenera vice president.
Because its blades are diskless, and all CPU and memory is assigned virtually from a pool of resources, they are never rigidly tied to any one application or operating system. That allows the user to determine the best "server makeup" for the application and deploy the "anonymous" blade in support of it. In this way, users only consume the processing and memory power they need for an application and add or remove it depending on need.
Being diskless also means it's possible to change the makeup of a server on the fly, including operating systems, the company reported. For example, Egenera has customers that run Linux-based global trading applications on a blade during the day, and after market close, that same blade runs batch processing on Windows applications.
Scale, virtualization support bonuses
Radko liked the way Egenera's platform fit GXS' need to scale up and down. "Any servers we have deployed on a frame can be moved to another physical server on the frame, or another frame. We do not have to lay in a third-party software layer to make that happen, and we can use the tools from Egenera to manage the process," Radko said. "In addition, the c-blade technology and ease of adding new blades, using the backplane instead of wiring up the servers individually, has served us well.
At the core of the Egenera BladeFrame is the company's own virtualization software, its Processor Area Network (PAN) Manager, which creates pools of processor, storage and networking resources that can be dynamically allocated as needed.
Egenera blade servers also support virtualization software from other vendors, such as VMware Inc.'s ESX. It also launched a product called vSoftware in November to utilize XenEnterprise virtualization.
Other Egenera customers listed on the company Web site include America Online, Goldman Sachs, MEW-IS, Putnam Investments and the U.S. Census Bureau.
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