Dell To Introduce A New Mini-Chassis for Blades?

It’s been a little quiet in the blade market place over the past few weeks, but I found some information that may peak some interests.

Dell Introducing New “Mini-Chassis”
I was recently digging around the Internet and found a hint of information that Dell is developing a new “mini-chassis.”  Based on the information I have, they are in the product marketing stage so it would probably be available in the next 6 – 9 months.  The question is – a mini-chassis for what?  Could it be a chassis to hold “skinless servers” like HP’s Scalable line ( or could it possibly be Dell’s first small chassis designed for small and remote offices?  My hope, of course,  would be for a new chassis for blade servers.  If Dell does introduce a mini blade chassis, what could it look like?  When we look at the Dell M1000e, it has similar characteristics of the HP BladeSystem C7000 (16 blade servers, 10U in height, front LCD display) so my first speculation would be that a Dell mini blade chassis would be close in design to the HP BladeSystem C3000.

HP C3000 Chassis - front view

HP C3000 Chassis - rear view

The HP BladeSystem C3000 can hold 8 blade servers and has 3 separate I/O fabrics.  If you look closely at the HP BladeSystem C3000 chassis, you’ll notice the I/O bays are smaller in nature taking up half of the width of the chassis.  This is where a Dell mini-chassis would have to deviate.  Dell’s current I/O module design is a full-height design that takes up nearly the full height of the M1000e chassis:

Dell M1000e Blade Chassis (rear)

Dell will either have to create a mini-chassis that can handle their full-height I/O modules, or they’ll have to make smaller I/O modules.  My guess is they would have 4 x I/O bays – 2 on the left and 2 on the right.  Here’s what my concept design would look like for a “Dell M500e Mini-Chassis”:

Dell M500e Blade Chassis Concept Design - BladesMadeSimple

On the other hand, Dell could take the approach that IBM has used for their small blade chassis, the BladeCenter S.  In the IBM BladeCenter S, you can have up to 6 blade servers AND you have up to 12 local storage drives.  (FYI – in the near future, expect to see 24 x 2.5″ SAS/SATA drives in the BladeCenter S).  Here’s what the IBM BladeCenter S looks like:

IBM BladeCenter S

IBM BladeCenter S (rear view)

Will Dell introduce a blade chassis for the small  / remote office market?  I hope so.  I think they are currently losing opportunities where a small blade chassis that holds a limited quantity of servers is needed and a mini-chassis would be a nice addition to their blade portfolio.  What do you think?  Do you feel that Dell is missing out, or do you think that blades don’t have a fit in the small / remote office space?  Give me your thoughts in the comments below.

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9 thoughts on “Dell To Introduce A New Mini-Chassis for Blades?

  1. Thales Osterne

    Hi Kevin,
    My guess is that will look like the C3000.. rumors saying that some HP engineers were contracted by Dell. And we´re seeing Dell investing in R&D

    A small correction on the text:
    IBM Chassis S can have up to 6 Blade servers and two storage modules (6 disk each). I heard that they are planning this 24 disks support too.

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  3. Jed Scaramella

    A small chassis is really aimed at SMB customers with the goal of achieving faster ROI. Payback is usually reached with a 60-70% full chassis. If a company only has 4 servers, they’ll never reach a break-even point with the larger chassis.

    The challenge is blades are still viewed as an enterprise solution, SMB still have a hard time grasping the value of blades. Hopefully that’s changing. Often in SMBs, virtualization and blades are seen as competing technologies, rather than complementary.

    Like a lot of offerings, Dell (and other vendors) are constantly evaluating whether the market opportunity justifies the R&D investment.

  4. Kevin Houston

    Jed, thanks for your comments around small blade chassis. I would agree that the small chassis is geared more toward the SMB market, I’m seeing huge acceptance for project-based opportunities as well, like for virtual desktop pilots which could be used in any size market. Thanks for reading!

  5. Illyse S

    what about it being for remote sites of large businesses – all things server/storage/switches in 1 box with virtualization between the blades? seems like it would/should depending on $ have a space – no?

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