Blade's "rackonomics" approach to data center cooling

I love it when companies pitch me because they've been reading this blog and have something that they think one-ups something I've already written about. Thus was the case with Blade Network Technologies, an upstart in the blade networking space working closely with blade giants IBM, NEC and Hewlett-Packard.

I love it when companies pitch me because they've been reading this blog and have something that they think one-ups something I've already written about. Thus was the case with Blade Network Technologies, an upstart in the blade networking space working closely with blade giants IBM, NEC and Hewlett-Packard. (Others to come.) Simply put, Blade Networks has developed a truly innovative new product in the network virtualization category, one that promises to reduce power consumption through its unique cooling design.

Blade's new RackSwitch Network Virtualization technology comes in data center class switches that are outfitted with software called SmartConnect, which Blade touts as the first rack-level network virtualization technology available. The feature shares I/O traffic across a blade chassis or rack. The switches are also "VMready," allowing you to manage virtual machines across a blade chassis or rack. There are a lot of other features that are way beyond my technical ability. The entire skinny on the new RackSwitch products can be found at this link.

It should help you to know that the company already has something like 170,000 switches deployed in some pretty big companies (12,000 at one customer alone), according to Dan Tuchler, vice president of strategy and product management for Blade Networks, which makes its corporate home in Santa Clara, Calif. Blade Network also is pretty cozy with IBM. One piece of evidence is its switch designed specifically for the IBM iDataPlex rack environment.

One thing that made me sit up and take notice during my Blade Networks interview was something that actually is pretty simple. Here it is: One reason that Blade Networks can claim better power consumption metrics than some competitive technologies is that it has designed its technology to cool like a blade server would -- with a front to back airflow. Many other switches are configured the opposite of blades, which means they would create a hot loop within the rack. Not ideal.

Blade Networks is also deep into a theory called rackonomics, which it is using to capture the attention of data center managers. To put it simply, this is the idea that a data center should be made up of replicated racks that have the same configuration of servers, storage and network, Tuchler says. This matters for ongoing support and total cost of ownership, he says. It also improves energy efficiency.

You can read more about rackonomics in this blog post by Blade Networks CEO Vikram Mehta.