IBM Blades on the Battlefield
You have probably heard of IBM’s ruggedized BladeCenter offering, the BladeCenter T and HT but did you know there was another IBM blade server offering that meets MIL-SPEC requirements that is not sold by IBM? As threats to the U.S. continue to grow military and intelligence orgainzations need to collect, process and analyze vast amounts of data to inform real-time decision making. Recent advances over the past 5 years in technology have spurred smarter, more powerful and more efficient means of defense but continued budgetary challenges force systems and technology planners to seek the a balance of high-performance computing power capable of running the volume and complexity of applications that today’s military requires with the reasonable price point the DoD expects. This reality requires advanced technology that combines high performance, reasonable cost and flexibility in a form factor specifically designed to meet MIL-SPEC standards for deployment outside the traditional data center .
Tracewell Systems (www.tracewell.com/rbs) has found the way to deliver the military what they need with the “Rugged Blade System” (RBS) based on COTS, or Commercial Off The Shelf, blade technology from IBM. This is a huge benefit to the military as it offers all the flexibility of commercial blade technology that is seen today in a ruggedized form factor that can meet MIL-SPEC requirements. By using commercial blade server technology from IBM, Tracewell is able to deliver server technology that offers the DoD consistent performance, flexibility and consolidation capabilities all within a form-factor-engineered package designed to meet MIL-SPEC requirements.
According to a press release in late October, Tracewell stated that the Tracewell RBS performed very well at the Empire Challenge 10 (EC10) event essentially proving its capabilities on the battlefield. The EC10 is a multinational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) demonstration designed to showcase the role of technology in improving military strategy, interagency coordination and military decision making. According to the after-action EC 10 report, “Throughout the exercise, the RBS performed to specification, even when subjected to high temperatures due to a lack of air conditioning (A/C).”
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Matt Tracewell, Executive Vice President of Tracewell Systems in November to inquire about their offering. My first question was “why IBM?” Interesting enough, they went with IBM in the beginning for their Cell Blade (the QS product.) However, they’ve since moved toward HS22v and GPU blades. IBM has created a unique program that enables Tracewell Systems the ability to design new products based on the IBM blade products without changing the blade products themselves. This means the standard switches and blade servers offered by IBM will work without any alteration inside the Tracewell Systems RBS. Below are a few snap shots of the 3-blade Rugged Blade System. The rear of the Tracewell Systems 3-Slot Blade System Rugged Chassis (last image) shows a single power plug and 3 shock, vibration proof RJ-45 plugs that allow for a dust-free connection. You’ll also see USB and KVM plugs in a unique, but MIL-SPEC form factor. Future designs from Tracewell Systems will offer 5 and 9 slot designs with multiple legacy and high-speed switch offerings.
In my opinion, the biggest deal about this offering is that it provides our military and intelligence organizations the ability to get new technology like Power 7 CPUs from IBM or Sandy Bridge CPUs from Intel in a timely manner giving them the industry’s best technology to insure the safety of our country. Go Team USA!