My brother-in-law David manages a mid-sized construction business, and owns seven or eight servers to handle the data. But don't bother asking him how much data they hold, or what processors they use. In fact, it's pointless to ask anyone in his office; they'll all give the same answer: "I don't know. Ask the Server Guy."
Who exactly is the Server Guy? To an SMB company like David's, Server Guy is the mysterious geek who crawls into a back-office closet clutching two cables and a USB thumbdrive, and emerges fifteen minutes later to declare that email is working again. Server Guy brings IT to the small- and mid-size businesses who either have a 1-man IT department, or depend on part-time or contractor help.
Tam Harbert notes that more and more of these Server Guys are approaching Ingram Micro and asking whether blade servers might be right for the 20-to-100 employee, server-closet crowd. And, Tam says, increasingly the answer is "Yes."
Why? Partly, Tam notes, it's the potential for saving money from their smaller footprint and higher power efficiency. But Arlin Sorensen, president of Heartland Technology Solutions and a Server Guy himself, nails an even bigger reason:
"A lot of our customers aren't equipped to handle the number of servers that they end up having...When you're dealing with 15 different stand-alone servers that were bought at 15 different times, then you have to deal with 15 different experiences in how those things are going to act. The beauty of blades is that the servers all respond and react the same way."
Blades make Server Guy's job EASIER. When you have a jumble of servers, switches, and storage wired together with a rats-nest of connections, the only cross-platform, intuitive management tool that you have is the main circuit breaker on/off switch. Blades change all that -- they give Server Guy a way to maintain servers in a quick, consistent, predicable manner.
Consider all the things Server Guy might be called upon to know. (Martin at BladeWatch did just that recently -- and to me his list is both accurate and daunting.)
But with tools like BladeSystem Onboard Administrator, Server Guy now has graphical, point-and-click tools that let him manage the IT hardware without two hundred hours of classroom training and three expensive industry certifications. Intuitive tools mean Server Guy is more productive.
How? Well, let's say my brother-in-law calls Server Guy and says "it sure seems hot in the server closest." Since most servers have temperature sensors in them, Server Guy could download a bundle of User's Guides, drive down to the office, figure out what settings he needs on a serial cable, plug it into each system, and -- if he remembers all the login passwords -- fetch the temperature readings on each piece of equipment. He could compare those to the tech specs on the hardware maker's web sites, then finally report to my brother-in-law that everything's OK.
Or...he could simply pull up a browser and remotely look at the Bladesystem Onboard Administrator status screen:
No manual needed. The green bar obviously means things are OK. There are little graphical orange and red hash marks -- nicely labeled with temperatures, and "Caution" and "Critical" indicators -- showing how much hotter it would need to be before there's a problem.
The BladeSystem team spends lots of their time developing tools like this, so Server Guy only has to spend a tiny amount of time using them.
Server Guy, if you're out there, let me -- or some of our colleagues -- know what other help you need. Also, call my brother-in-law. He says the Internet is broken again, and the "any" key is missing from his keyboard.
VAR Business released their 2008 Annual Report Card yesterday including 18 catagories of IT support. Both our Integrity and ProLiant server business took top honors in midrange (Itanium and UNIX) and mainstream servers (like x86 based). This is one of our favorite awards, our fearless leader Mr. Potter was there a couple of years ago to pick up some nice bling after the original launch of BladeSystem c-Class.
Adrian Jones, our top dog for the VAR community picked up a pretty cool award for his work in helping our partners.
Dear HP VARs!
Tuesday, all of us at HP were honored to receive your votes at the 2008 VARBusiness Annual Report Card Awards for ARC Company of the Year in both the Midrange (High-End) Server and Volume Mainstream Business Server categories.
There are a lot of awards out there, but this one means a lot more to us because it was based on your votes and satisfaction with us. That real says something.
We really think it's you that should get the awards. The blade team would like to thank you for all your help over the years to make BladeSystems a success. See you next year!
The HP BladeSystem Team
PS: For those that may not know, here's how the winners were selected:
Winners were determined based on a weighted total of product innovation, support and partnership. Winners were selected by VARBusiness editorial based on the survey results of more than 5,000 systems integrators, IT consulting organizations, value-added resellers (VARs), solution providers and software developers.
The Annual Report Card winners can be found online at http://www.channelweb.com/ and will be included in the October 27, 2008 issue of VARBusiness.