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 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
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
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.
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
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.