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.
Every time a competitor introduces a new product, we can't help but notice they suddenly get very interested in what HP is blogging during the weeks prior to their announcement. Then when the competitor announces, the story is very self-congratulatory "we've figured out what the problem is with existing server and blade architectures". The implication being that blades volume adoption is somehow being constrained by the very thing they have and everyone else is really stupid.
HP BladeSystem growth has hardly been constrained; with quarterly growth rates of 60% or 80% and over a million BladeSystem servers sold. So I have to wonder if maybe we already have figured out what many customers want - save time, power, and money in an integrated infrastructure that is easy to use, simple to implement changes, and can run nearly any workload.
Someone asked me today "will your strategy change?" I guess given the success we've had, we'll keep focusing on the big problems of customers - time, cost, change and energy. It sounds boring, it doesn't get a lot of buzz and twitter traffic, but it's why customers are moving to blade architectures.
Our platform was built and proven in a step-by-step approach: BladeSystem c-Class, Thermal Logic, Virtual Connect, Insight Dynamics, etc. Rather than proclaim at each step that we've solved all the industry's problems or have sparked a social movement in computing; we'll continue to focus on doing our job to provide solutions that simply work for customers and tackle their biggest business and data center issues.
data center 3.0
Dynamic Power Capping
x86 server market
We recently learned that Aaron Delp closed down his BladeVault blog and is focusing on creating more useful infomation to share with the greater community by contributing to Scott Lowe's blog. For those of you that don't know Aaron, he's a senior engineer who is literally on the front lines of the blade and virtualization revolution. No, he doesn't work for HP or IBM. But he does know just about everything there is to know about us both. The good, the bad and the ugly.
We not only like Aaron because he's a smart guy who shoots it straight, but also because he likes to share what he knows with the community. Like I said, he knows a lot.
Well, here's what he's up to now. In a series titled "Blades and Virtualization Aren't Mutually Exclusive", Aaron is sharing a ton of personal research and experience with blades. In his first two articles in the series, he takes an insider look at the power advantages of blade versus rack servers - looking at both HP and IBM. I know we told you blades use a lot less power before, but you still think we're full of crap. Fine. Take it from Aaron.
In his next article, Aaron promised to focus on the expansion abilities of both the IBM and HP blade servers. We'll be reading and linking his thoughts here.
We have to pause and bow to our NonStop brethren who took home the GOLD in SearchDataCenter.com's products of the year. Especially sweet is they knocked off the IBM z10 mainframe.
I know we tend to be a little controverstial over the years with our "Blade Everything" strategy (it really got under the rack server skin of our Dell buddies), but the NonStop BladeSystem should really bring our strategy home for you.
The fact that the new NonStop takes advantage of a BladeSystem architecture is not what makes the product rock. Guts are guts. It's the brains and nervous system the NonStop team was able to build on top of it that make this solution stand out as the tops in the industry. The fact we bladed the NonStop just adds a killer value proposition for you:
2x the performance. 1/2 the footprint. 100% NonStop!
You gotta love it.
I did some quick research on how a business best survives a recession. Then I picked what I thought was the best advice of what to do and not to do and applied it to blade servers. Whether you care about blades or not, there is some really good advice below that applies to any business.
1. Work harder! I'm not trying to be mean. My point is to work harder to uncover exactly where you are wasting most of your dollars and time.
I'd like to hear your ideas. Is 2009 the right or the wrong time to move to blades?
Although our president is still hesitant to mention the "R" word, the general consensus of the financial "talking heads" on news programs have stepped out and think we're already there. Depending on what's happening in your business, you probably feel the same way too. Everyone is squeezed and it's not a good feeling. You need to take specific steps if your business is hard hit by this economic downturn.
It is only natural to revisit your overall business strategy when market conditions change. Duncan MacPherson, co-author of Breakthrough Business Development and co-founder of Pareto Platform, an industry leading business development firm that helps entrepreneurs improve their practice management and business development systems, has the following advice for growing your business during times of turbulence in the economy.
Maintain your fees and pricing: Remember, you are trying to attract great clients not chase them. By lowering your price, prospective customers tend to start focusing on your cost rather than your worth; such an approach can come off as projecting a reactive, and even desperate vibe to the marketplace. You don’t want to ask clients to buy something, you want them to buy into something - a mutually beneficial, long term relationship.
Turn your clients into advocates: If your clients cannot describe you to you, they cannot describe you to a friend. Make sure that your clients know and like what you do for them.
Convert your existing clients into referral-generating advocates: As a business, you are at your highest level of refer-ability during times of uncertainty in the marketplace. The best way to convince new prospects to utilize your services, is to spend more time with the people who are already convinced. In times of uncertainty in the market, many of your competitors are neglecting their clients as they attempt to actively recruit new business. If a client truly believes in your services, the likelihood that he/she will recommend you to his/her friend is extremely high.
Launch a simple call rotation campaign to the 20 percent of your clients who generate 80 percent of your business to touch base with them and ask how they are doing: You aren't trying to sell anything or be the bearer of any profound news, just placing a courtesy call. As the conversation is winding down, simply remind your clients that as a value added service, you make yourself available to answer any questions that their friends or family members might have regarding your type of services. Simply planting the seed and opening up the option gets the concept of referrals imbedded in your clients’ minds so that they may respond when the opportunity presents itself, without making you appear needy or putting them on the spot.
Explain how your services are especially beneficial during times uncertainty in the economy: People are generally reluctant to enlist outside services during tough times especially when there is a cost involved. Outline the short and long-term benefits of your services to make yourself indispensable.
Your clients have the best business advice. If you want to improve your levels of service, ask the people who currently receive it. One of the most popular and beneficial concepts you can implement is the Client Advisory Council. As a business professional, few activities are as revealing and rewarding as simply surrounding yourself with a group of your favorite clients and probing them for ideas and insights.
What steps are you taking to minimize the economic impact to your business? Leave me a comment.
- Work harder!
- Avoid debt
- Keep your employees
- Focus on your core business
- Delegate tasks wherever you can
- Compete on price
- Cut unnecessary spending
- Seek partnerships
- Make sales oriented product decisions
- Find new ways to monetize