Comparison: Blade vs Rack Servers ( Cisco, HP, Dell and Lenovo)

Today I am going to talk about another important topic where i am going to explain the comparison between Blade and the Rack servers. The post is relevant to all the datacenter engineers who are in the product side, implementation, design, support, field and the pre-sales. Some of you are very much new to the server side, this article will be the basic understanding for you to start and use the relevant server accordingly as per the need and the demands in your datacenter environment.

Servers are necessary for hosting the users application so that you can access from the remote location. These servers are generally hosted onto the datacenter or to the cloud. For Datacenter we are hosting the applications on Rack or Blade servers ( Cisco, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Many more). For cloud you can have the options like Public and Private clouds ( AWS, Azure- Public and NTT, VMware, Citrix and many more).

Here i am going to talk about the in-primisis solution in the datacenter where the applications are hosted onto the servers(can be Rack or Blade). For Cloud based application i already wrote a article earlier where i shows the difference between AWS and Microsoft Azure( Public Cloud vendors). i will come up with another article on cloud based solutions.

Let's now talk about the Rack and Blade servers

Rack Servers:
Rack servers are the dedicated servers consolidated in the rack, one above the other. It is same kind of infrastructure like you are putting switches and routers in the rack within a allocated racked space. If you ever saw the datacenter inside, you will always saw devices putting in the rack and taking much more space.

Fig 1.1- Lenovo x3550 M5 Rack Server
In the above figure you can see a 1RU Lenovo x3550M5 Rack server and it is a dedicated server. So you can have number of server dedicate and put one above the other to make a Rack. I can have various examples for Rack servers from different vendors and they are:

  • Cisco- UCS C220 M4
  • HP- DL360 Gen9
  • DELL- R630
  • Lenovo x3550 M5
Similarly, we have the below various Dell Rack dedicated server model picture for your references
Fig 1.2- Dell Rack Servers
Hope you are clear what actually Rack server is, I will cover the features in detail later on for the Rack servers 

Blade Servers
Talking about the blade server, blade server is a stripped-down server computer with a modular design optimized to minimize the use of physical space and energy. So it means Blade servers comes inside one Chassis. One chassis can have many blade servers, can be 4,8 or more depends upon the vendor or model you are using in your network.

The blades are literally servers on a card, containing processors, memory, integrated network controllers, an optional Fiber Channel host bus adaptor and other input/output (IO) ports.

So you can say, Servers are compacted in one chassis to save the space within your datacenter, in simple words it's a kind of modular servers mounted inside the chassis.

Fig 1.3- HP Blade server in a chassis
With the design and the architecture you can easily understand the difference between the blade and Rack server now. The above picture shows the HP Blade server, we can have other vendors as well. The below picture is of Cisco UCS Blade server as well.

Fig 1.4- Cisco UCS B Blade servers

I knew you are looking the difference in the features of both the types of servers now. My motive is to explain what actually they are and hope you understand about the Rack and the Blade servers now. I will come up with the Blade and Rack servers differently in detail in my next articles but at least i can show you the comparison difference between them.

Below is the table shows you the very high level difference between both the servers (Rack and Blade servers).

Fig 1.5- Comparison Blade and Rack Servers- High Level

Thanks for your support and please let me know your queries on Rack and Blade servers. I will cover Rack and Blade servers one by one and also come up with the comparison between the different vendors Blade and Rack servers. 

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