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Blade PCs


The new solution to slick and secure desktop access at the workplace.

Blade PCS are the hottest corporate desktop solution touted by vendors. No longer would your company need to house IT foot soldiers to run-around looking for faulty desktops. Now, all of the desktops within your corporation can be managed from one physical location. This is the beauty of Blade PCs - the new breakthrough to the very old thin client/central server model. Unlike traditional models, the Blade PC is a very anorexic, thin client. In fact its so thin that it doesn't even exist! Blade PCs are desktop PCs without the big tower sitting next to your desk. Blade servers sitting on a rack (or known as cage) in the central room power blade PCs. The user interfaces with the server located several hundred feet away using a standard monitor, keyboard and mouse. The input/output devices are connected using a very long cable to the server. In this manner, the user can interact with server as if the desktop was placed right under the work tabletop.

The Architecture

The Blade PC has three main components in its architecture. The first is a collection of input/output devices. These include a standard video device such as monitor, audio setup, keyboard, mouse, and USB. The second important component is the User Port. This is a small device that has no moving parts, generates no noise, and dissipates very little heat.

There are two types of User ports that connect the server with the user including C/Port and I/Port. The C/Port connects to Blade server using standard homerun cable up to 200 meters long. The C/Port option is ideal for ultra-secure environments with direct connectivity to PC Blades over a point-to-point cable connection. This option offers better performance but is more expensive than I/Port. When direct connections are not available, the I/Port lets users connect to their PC Blades over a standard Ethernet network that may include routers, switches and media converters. By connecting over Ethernet, the distance between a PC Blade and the desktop can be unlimited provided that sufficient network bandwidth is available. The I/Port can also be used in configurations where up to four users connect to a single PC Blade lowering the cost of entry-level applications. There are two main types of User Ports. Other hybrid User Ports are developed by vendors that provide extra bells and whistles.

The third component in the overall Blade architecture is the Blade server itself. The server is connected to the end user using a User Port. The server is housed in a rack called a cage. The cage also houses many other Blade Servers. The advantage of such a rack is that new servers can be easily added without affecting other servers on the system. In this way, new hardware can easily be installed without no downtime.

This central management software can be accessed by the IT administrator from anywhere in the world. This makes the management and control of Blade PCs truly unique by allowing any desktop in the enterprise to be managed through one geographic location.

Blade Kickbacks

There are many advantages to Blade PC model. For one, its fewer headaches for IT staff. They can easily managed all the PCs of the company through one physical location. They can apply any security patches, upgrades or just perform routine maintenance to all the PCs without much trouble. Another important advantage includes better sever availability. If the server were to ever crash (yes even Blade PCs get the dreaded blue screen) then the user can be automatically switched over to a backup server without much data or productivity loss.

The idea of sharing your PC is just as bizarre as sharing your toothbrush with anyone, right? Well Blade PCs allow you to share your processing power with up to 3 other users. you only split the processor 4 ways-not your screen, your keyboard or your storage space. This means that your computer may perform a bit slower (depending on what the other 3 users are doing) but all four of you can share the PC securely and work independently of each hardware costs.

Another major advantage is data security. no longer can employees stick floppies and steal valuable data from the computer. Since the desktop is hundreds of feet away, employees don't have any other means of accessing the data other than through the computer. Depending of what security privileges have been assigned they can't simply walk away with confidential data. These advantages make the Blade PC option very attractive in the long run.

It's these advantages that has converted businesses from traditional desktops to Blade PCs. The growing lone of converts include the US Air force through its Blade Pilot project, Trane, Intec Telecom, AAA, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Atlanta Business bank. All of these businesses have successfully implemented pilot Blade PC projects.

Other larger vendors are also entering the scene, such as HP with BC 1000, its own rendition of Blade PC. Dell is quick to follow suite with its own competitively priced Blade. The Blade PC market is not a major breadwinner yet, but analysts claim that Blade PCs will become a formidable option to enterprises as they look into ways of cutting down corporate IT costs. Don't be too surprised if walk into your cubical one day only to find you desktop has been whisked away to be replaced by a blade PC!

Written by Nabeel Khalid.



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