What are the main differences between blade servers and rack servers?
- Computing power
- Cooling requirements
Although a server is capable of performing complex computing functions, it simply refers to hardware or software that provides a type of service to a network of computers. When it comes to server organization, there is much discussion about a blade server vs a rack server, particularly when it comes to their main differences.
Both of these servers are used by both large scale and small scale organizations in IT operations. For example, multiple blade servers can be used to provide email, web, or file-sharing services for multiple clients, while a rack server may also be able to provide the same type of services to different clients as well. The distinguishing features in these two types largely have to do with each of their structure, organization, as well as, the way they’re stored inside a data center.
Generally, rack servers have a lower cost compared to blade servers, but blade servers may take up more space compared to rack servers, depending on the cabling, organization, and storage structure that’s being used. Another difference is that a rack server uses more power compared to blade servers, despite having a comparable computing power. Continue reading to learn more.
When it comes to flexibility, rack servers typically have more leeway compared to blade servers. This is more evident when it comes to high-end or high-performance applications that require a high level of redundancy in the servers, as well as, flexibility.
In blade servers, the RAID card, or Redundant Array of Independent Drives cannot accommodate a disk array or storage array. It’s only possible for a blade server system to be able to hold a higher memory capacity if it’s organized in a cluster system which can be bulkier compared to the alternative.
The main driver behind why rack mount servers are generally considered to be more flexible is that they can be manufactured to accommodate a range of about 16 to 20 memory slots.
When you’re looking for a rack-mount server, it’s typical for it to be classified according to the “rack unit” or “U” measurement which corresponds to the height of the rack. The higher the measurement — i.e. 1U, 2U, 3U, and so on — the higher the storage dimensions.
A rack server is a more cost-efficient choice when your organization doesn’t really require a high level of computing power. This means that you’re not necessarily running high-end applications that require multiple high-performing servers at any given time.
In much the same way, scaling rack servers are much lower in costs unlike when you’re scaling a rack server. This is because blade servers and other related materials such as screws, power units, cooling configurations, support services, circuit boards, chassis, and enclosures can fetch from Php 100,000 to Php 400,000.
For both small and large organizations, rack servers are ideal because they can be customized at a much more reasonable price point compared to blade servers.
The computing power for both a rack server and a blade server is similar. There are cases that the blade server can perform multiple computing functions without experiencing any downtime. However due to the structuring of a blade server, it’s able to store and accommodate several servers into a single rack, enabling it to generate a higher processing power for different clients connected to the server.
You’ll often find blade servers SANs or Storage Area Network, and NAS (Network Attached Storage) — the latter is what you’ll commonly spot across the data center organization for small to medium-sized businesses. This is because both of these network arrangements involve multiple switches, clients, storage, and application servers that are designed for high-end use. Blade server architecture makes a great choice because it can continually accommodate additional storage.
More than that, it’s far easier to hot-swap or to replace components and add parts in blade servers without leading to a downtime of the entire system. Hot swapping is done when there is a need to repair the system without having to shut down the entire operation. While this technique is possible across rack servers, it’s significantly more convenient to perform them across blade server architectures.
Both rack servers and blade servers emit a significant amount of heat. For this reason, data centers are equipped with cooling systems to make sure that all the components won’t experience any overheating.
There are many physical manipulations that you can do to your data center site to improve the cooling quality. This can be done by installing ventilation ducts or putting air conditioners that are designed to cool your servers. But between rack servers and blade servers, the latter generates a greater amount of heat which can cause problems to your system if they’re left unmitigated.
Rack servers, on the other hand, contain a built-in internal fan that can help in improving the airflow. If you want to better cool your blade servers, you may need to redesign their setup in such a way that hot and cold air columns are arranged in an alternate manner.
Nevertheless, you can significantly improve your servers’ cooling capabilities with the right kind of server storage or chassis— i.e. open-frame racks, mesh, two-post racks, wall-mounted racks, and the like.
In comparing a blade server vs. a rack server, understanding their differences is essential in order for you to choose the right type of server for your organization.
Overall, rack servers are more cost-efficient, have a lower purchasing cost, and are better space-savers compared to blade servers. Although both of these server types are able to generate a high computing function, blade servers are able to store a greater capacity of processing power because of the easy hot swappable function.