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What Are The Differences Between A Blade Server And Rack Mount Server

Published: May 30, 2016

When it comes to server requirements, there are essentially two options: rack mount servers and blade servers. Both can be tailored to provide appropriate power, and both function efficiently. However, one may be better suited to serve a company’s needs than the other.

There are some advantages to both blade servers and rack mount servers. Sometimes the difference is a bit confusing to non-IT personnel. Among IT personnel, there is usually a lot of debate about which one is better at certain functions. Anyone tasked with the decision to implement one or the other at a company should have a basic understanding of the differences in the two, and how they are best put to use.

The purchase and implementation will be based on several factors including cost, available space, the type of application involved, and company size. Rack mount servers are usually preferred by Enterprise level to large sized companies, while blade servers are flexible and will fit into a network application easily. Below are some of the differences (and similarities), advantages of each, and explanations of how they work.

Just What is a Server?

A server is a computer that is used to manage network assets. There are a variety of different server functions available, depending on a firm’s requirements. They may be used as a database server, they may be used for the storage of files accessed by any user on the network, they may function as a print server, managing printers, or as a network server controlling traffic on a local network.

What is a Rack Mount Server?

Rack mount servers are made specifically to fit in an enclosure called a rack. Racks usually include cable management, making it simpler to install them, and keep an orderly and neat appearance. One appeal of rack servers is that they are conveniently expandable and support a large volume of RAM. They are ideally suited to everyday business undertakings at large firms. Rack mount servers are used for high-density data requirements, offering maximum power and storage space, without taking up much room in an office.

What is a Blade Server?

A blade server is a framework that holds numerous circuit boards, called server blades. The blades are servers that can be dedicated to a single function. They contain processors, memory, network controllers, bus adaptors, and more. Blade servers provide a lot of processing power in a small space, as well as simplify cabling issues and power consumption. Blades maximize computing power, and the closures are efficiently cooled. The advantage of blade servers is the capability of consolidating several servers in a single chassis. Additionally, the consolidation of storage and networking resources in a much smaller environment can be easily managed via a single interface. They can be tasked to perform an array of functions including:

  • File sharing
  • SSL encryption
  • Streaming audio and video content

Determining Need

Typically, purchasing any computing equipment becomes a balance between company needs and the available budget. Buying servers is no different. Data requirements and available physical space are also a consideration. Enterprise companies and large firms that need serious scalability should look towards rack mounted servers. For mid-sized businesses with limited space, blade servers might be the better option.