With increasing Internet activity leading to a demand for front-end servers, the market for blade severs appears ripe for growth. But a lack of operating standards is limiting adoption of the hardware, reports Dataquest Inc., a Stamford, Connecticut-based research firm and a unit of Gartner Inc.

A blade server is a server contained on a card. Network administrators using blade servers instead of traditional servers benefit by having a tools that take up less space and are easier to add and remove, Dataquest says. Rather than installing servers one chassis at a time into a rack cabinet as is common today, users of blade servers put them in a chassis that has multiple slots for the cards.

"Many end users will be reluctant to install a blade server that appears to be proprietary," says Jeffrey Hewitt, principal analyst covering servers for Gartner Dataquest's Computing Platform Worldwide group. "The acceptance of such a standard should help reduce end-user inhibition to install blade servers."

Vendors should drive the development of a blade server standard, Dataquest says. But until a standard is adopted, vendors should have a blade server product line to keep from getting locked out of the market, the firm notes. Though the standards issue is limiting sales of blade servers, the sector still is headed for expansion. Worldwide blade sever shipments will increase from 84,810 units in 2002 to more than 1 million by 2006, Dataquest projects.

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