The second trend, energy efficiency, is not a surprise inclusion on the list given recent industry focus on containing power and cooling costs. But the challenge of improving efficiency has caught some customers off guard over the last few years, and blade servers are both part of the problem and part of the solution, according to Balog. (Compare blade server products. )
"Blade servers are part of the solution because they are much more energy efficient than a rack full of 1U servers," he says. "But at the same time, because of the ability to provide a high-density offering within a smaller area, they're consuming more energy in a smaller space."
By freeing up space, blade servers tempt data center managers to fill up their rooms with even more servers. "Blades are becoming part of the answer to a customer's data center challenges, but it has to be done in a thoughtful way so they're not creating their next set of problems," Balog says.
IBM has hyped the benefits of water cooling, and Blade.org cites statistics from Gartner predicting that 70% of data centers will use water cooling within three years. But a variety of approaches will be needed to solve the energy woes of datacenters.
"This [problem] is one that cannot be ignored," Balog says. "I think water cooling provides part of the answer. I wouldn't say we're looking at it as the only answer."
The third big trend is hyper consolidation, driven by server virtualization and a predicted move toward "consolidating servers, workstations and network devices into an integrated blade environment."
Blades and virtualization are both becoming more popular, and complement each other well, Blade.org says.
"Blades in the datacenter will evolve to a hyper-consolidated model through virtual appliances in which all discrete servers, firewalls and other network devices will be consolidated into the blade chassis," VMware chief platform architect Richard Brunner says in a press release.
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