The blade server market will be worth $11bn worldwide by 2010, according to IBM, with SMEs being a particularly fruitful market.
Big Blue expects the market will grow significantly from its current standing of $4bn over the next three years. The IT giant said the mood among customers towards blades has improved in recent years with demand growing.
A blade server houses a number of individual minimally-packaged computer motherboard blades. Each of these includes one or more processors, memory, storage, and network connections, but they share the common power supply and air-cooling resources of the blade chassis. These shared resources make it easier to upgrade as it means a firm only needs to buy a new blade when upgrading and not new cooling or power sources.
"Over the last five years there have been less and less discussions [amongst businesses] about why they should use blades and more about how do they get them into their company," Doug Balog, vice president of IBM BladeCenter Development told ENN at the IT giant's executive briefing centre in Raleigh, North Carolina.
IBM has shipped over 500,000 blades over the last four years. Balog said this is 22 per cent more than its nearest rival HP. Between them Big Blue and HP account for around 80 per cent of the global blade market. Other participants in the field include Fujitsu-Siemens, Dell and Sun Microsystems.
Balog said that to date most of the interest in blade servers has come from large firms but that this was about to change. "The small and medium business sector is about to explode with blades," he said. In answer to this growing demand, IBM has developed products aimed at the SME market which Balog said the firm would be launching in the coming months.
IBM is looking at the ability of blades to integrate systems as a means to market the servers to firms of all sizes. "Blades have always been about integration and they allow services such as storage and networks to be integrated into a single package," said Balog.
Blades shared power and cooling systems generate less heat than traditional servers, something Balog said has become more important to firms in recent years. "Power cooling only became an issue two years ago but now all of our customers seem to be talking about," he said.
ENN will be covering all the major announcements at IBM's BladeCenter briefings this week.
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