The blade architecture has had a lot of press since its release, and for good reason. Both HP and IBM have blade technology that does practically the same thing, consolidation.
Linux is ideal for the blade architecture because it works wonderfully in its intended space — web, firewalls, and databases, that is, the real workhorses of an organization.
The blade architecture is a way to pack a lot of processing power into a small footprint, with IBM being able to pack 14 servers in a 7U space, and HP can do 20 blades in a 3U space.
Note The term U is a standard way of describing the amount of rack space a server takes up: 1U
The blade architecture removes the need for large cabling requirements, and each physical blade is considered commodity hardware — if one blade goes down, you get your hot swap and replace it. It takes approximately ten seconds to remove and replace a blade whereas with a standard 1U system it would take you at least 20 to 30 minutes. You can even automate a build on the blade and have your system up and running in a matter of minutes.
Note In terms of computing, "commodity" is used to describe "throw away" hardware. If the server breaks, you do not need to worry too much because you can replace it either at low or no cost, with little impact to the service your servers provide. This is something unheard of a few years ago when talking about HP or IBM hardware, but the fact that you can have your blade replaced within 24 hours under warranty means you really don't have to worry about the availability of the hardware.
If you have many web, file, or database servers, you can consolidate a couple of racks into one with the blade architecture, hook your blades up to a SAN, and you have the same functionality, with a small footprint and less management hassles (always good for saving money).
As you can see in this survey of the "Big Players" in the enterprise, Linux has been a major part of their roadmap to sell more software and hardware into this space. As these are the companies that define the enterprise, they know that Linux is something to be enhanced, marketed, and implemented.
SUSE made the decision to technically improve the distribution for the enterprise space without the marketing over three years ago, and both IBM and HP have realized this commitment by embracing SUSE in their strategies.
Plenty of vendors and Business Partners worldwide can provide you with more information on Linux. Both HP and IBM have great Linux sites (www.hp.com/linux and www.ibm.com/linux), whereas two of your authors' employers, SCC (www.scc.com) and CSF (www.csf.co.uk), can provide you with more information about the enterprise space on an unbiased level.
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