One of the common shortcomings of blade systems is the use of 2.5-inch drives. While they are smaller and easier to fit in the chassis, they also suffer from capacity limitations.
The 3.5-inch drive used in standard desktops and servers has reached the 1TB barrier while 2.5-inch drives are lucky to get half that capacity. Many blade systems use rows of 72GB drives.
The fix is network attached storage systems, which use the bigger 3.5-inch drives, but that's a separate physical unit, taking up more space when a blade server's whole raison d'etre is a compact footprint.
IBM recognized this problem with its BladeCenter S and killed two birds with one stone. It announced on Wednesday a new shared storage system for the BladeCenter that puts 3.5-inch drives in a blade case, which goes right in the chassis. The result is the ability to add up to 12TB of storage to a chassis with no external attachment needed.
The move will bring much higher-capacity storage capabilities to smaller firms and branch offices that lack the IT staff and budgets to manage a large system, but still need to expand their capacity and capabilities.
The Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center health center in Queens County, New York is in such a predicament. It's a private, non-profit community health center that serves the poor and medically indigent in the area. It didn't have the room for a big system, but a BladeCenter S fit nicely into its server room and gave it all the compute power it needed, according to Jinpin Ying, IT Manager for the center.
"We didn't expect our business to expand so quick," Ying explained to InternetNews.com. "It's not a good idea to continue buying stand-alone servers to add on top of the old ones, since the space is limited. With the BladeCenter, I can use one server to consolidate all the other servers. So that gave me a lot of space saving."
More importantly, the expanded capacity of the virtual storage option is allowing the Center to run multiple operating environments. "We could not separate those functions out before," said Ying. "But with the blade server, we are planning to separate that server out so we can take advantage of multiple environments, each with a dedicated function."