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Blades meet nets

Feb 20, 20032 mins

* Columnist indicates that blade servers will take on more network functions

Network World recently ran a commentary by analyst Frank Dzubeck that had some interesting implications for enterprise LANs.

Dzubeck wrote that blade servers are evolving into platforms for communications as well as computing. Blade servers are thin servers consolidated into racks to keep power consumption down and to handle large numbers of server requests.

With a Gigabit Ethernet LAN switch built in for communications among the blades, blade servers cut down on much of the need for a separate LAN switch. Dzubeck argues that as blade servers start to add functions like routing and load balancing, the cost of doing both communications and computing in one place increasingly makes sense:

That could be bad news for any companies that specialize in LAN hardware. However, it’s going to take time for the trend to take hold, I think, as many users still see computing and networking as separate functions best handled by specialized devices. Dzubeck also notes at the end of his column that it may take time.

Perhaps what we’ll see is increased cooperation between LAN device makers and server makers. Or maybe server makers will turn to some of the embedded network system vendors we’ve talked about in the past for higher network functions.

At any rate, it will be interesting to watch how much network functionality gets absorbed into blade servers, and how much will remain separate. What do you think? Let me know at