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IBM Blade Server vs SUN Blade Server



Queries the following Comparison is trying to Answer:


IBM Blades ( HS21 & LS21 & LS41 & HS21xm ) VS SUN Blades ( X6200 & T6300 & X6400 & X8400)  

IBM Blades H & E Chassis VS SUN Blade 6000 & SUN Blade 8000

How does IBM Blades compare to SUN Blades?

Advantages & Disadvantages of SUN & IBM Chassis & Blades

What is better SUN Blades or IBM Blades? How?

Independent Unbiased Comparison SUN Blades & IBM Blades

IBM Blade Server vs SUN Blade Server


SUN Blades VS IBM Blades Introduction:


If you have reached this page you are more probably already decided on using Blades, but still can't solve the puzzle of which Vendor to go with. As many vendors are highly competing to your blade purchase we had put many blades comparison on our site. In this Comparison we are comparing IBM H & E Chassis & SUN Blades 6000 & 8000 from an independent point of view. Other Blades comparisons can be reached from the menu on the left side.



             IBM Blades                     VS       SUN Blades

Chassis flexibility

BladeCenter S, BladeCenter E, BladeCenter H, BladeCenter T, BladeCenter HT, Common set of blades, switches, I/O fabrics and management infrastructure

SUN Blade 6000

SUN Blade 8000

ITComparison Team Comments

IBM Blades vs SUN Blades

IBM has several chassis sizes with different specs and sizes to meet the special requirement of every organization and options which can be interoperated between different chassis, where Sun is only offering the SUN Blade 6000 & 8000 chassis at the moment which is not interoperable. You can't switch blades & modules between the SUN chassis, as you could with the IBM Chassis. That help IBM Chassis being more flexible and offer a better investment protection.
Blade server flexibility

Intel® Xeon®, AMD Opteron, IBM POWER™, Cell BE™

Intel Xeon, AMD Opteron, SPARC

ITComparison Team Comments Both IBM & SUN are offering AMD & Intel Blades. In the Unix side IBM Offer P-Series Blades & SUN Offer SPARC Blades. In addition, IBM offer a cell processor Blade QC10 which SUN Still does not offer any equivalent to.



Full Height



Fully Redundant



Blades w/ hotswap HDD per chassis


Fully Redundant Blades w/ hotswap HDD











































ITComparison Team Comments




SUN Blades vs IBM Blades

It seems SUN has only succeeded in fitting 10 Blades in 10 U chassis which makes it around 40% lower Density than IBM H-Chassis. Though when it comes to fitting a hotswap SCSI Drives SUN Can fit 10 Blades.

 In addition, when it come to redundancy IBM has a long wining of the race. IBM chassis can fit 14 fully redundant blades where SUN only can fit 10 semi-redundant blades in their chassis. We called SUN semi-redundant blades as they are not fully redundant as explained under the redundancy comparison.

- SUN Density is very low for a blade solution as they are not doing any better than 1U server can. Fitting 10 Blades in 10 U enclosure that is 1U per Blade which could been the same for a rack mounted server.

Please note with IBM releasing their new blades HS22 few months ago, they have no more to give up extra slots for adding Hotswap HDDs.


- Dual power connections to each blade



- Dual paths through the backplane to I/O, power and KVM


- Single power connections to each blade 

- Single I/O paths for Certain I/O slots on most of their blades

ITComparison Team Comments It seems IBM is a clear winner on blades redundancy at the moment. This can be a major decision factor for large enterprises, as it can be a major availability factor.
Hot Swap HDD


Solid State Drives (SSD)

Require Expansion unit which waste 1U and reduce the number of blades per chassis




No need for expansion unit which save space



Not Available

ITComparison Team Comments



SUN Blades vs IBM Blades

It seems SUN are having an advantage in being able to fit larger number of blades which includes HotSwap HDD into their chassis, but IBM has a valid argument as most blades customers depend on boot from SAN which provide them with stateless blades and all kind of advantages including the ability of taking snap shots of their blades. In addition, with IBM introducing Solid State Drives it has even reduced the need for hotswap harddisks even further as these have no spinner and their reliability are way better than SCSI HDD. It seems SUN still not offering Solid State Driver at the moment, but might be in the future. Its quite easier for SUN to fit HDDs in their Blades as the size factor of them is the equivalent of a 1U server, which does not make sense why to go blades, if it is not going to save rack  & Floor space!!
Illuminated path to blade components

Light Path Diagnostics uses battery to help diagnose even without power to the blade.

Sun does not offer any equivalent.

ITComparison Team Comments Better and faster serviceability in the IBM Blades with the ability to pinpoint the problem even if the blades is not powering up, which is not offered at all by SUN.
Event identification

First Failure Data Capture

Nothing Equivalent

ITComparison Team Comments IBM Blades got a better  non over-lapping error reporting through their Management Module which help in resolving cascaded problems faster.

IBM Offer internal switches in addition to their passthru offering for all kind of connectivity available in the market today  (Ethernet, Fiber Channel, 10GB Ethernet , and InfiniBand). As well they offer it from multiple vendors for each connectivity type.

Sun only offer Pass-thru modules for all connectivity types, no internal switches at all.

ITComparison Team Comments




SUN Blades vs IBM Blades

SUN fail to integrate any switches into their offering, which make their blades offering not any better than 1U servers offering. As they are already packaging 10 blades in 10U Chassis, so no space saving. Further more, they force you to use further space for external switches. In addition, you don't get rid of all the nasty network & Fiber cables between the chassis & the switches.

In the other hand, IBM Blades packages 14 Blades in 9 U Chassis which save you on space. Further more they allow you to fit all your required switches in the chassis saving you further on space & cabling. It even look a lot smoother when getting rid of the 100's of cables connecting the servers to the switches in the case of 1Us server & SUN Blades.

Blade deployment and redeployment

Open Fabric Manager, Uses standard switches, single login across 100 chassis

No Equivelant

ITComparison Team Comments


SUN Blades vs IBM Blades

IBM Open Fabric Manager provide automatic failover for failing blade to another blade using boot from SAN functionality. In addition, it removes all the work involved in replacing a failing blade.

 Sun Does not offer anything equivalent to IBM Open Fabric Manager & will require the admin to reconfigure the SAN Zoning & the network VLANs  when replacing any blade wasting precious time & increase the downtime required to replace a blade.

Built-in Central Management Module  Yes  N/A
ITComparison Team Comments


IBM Blades vs SUN Blades

IBM offer a hardware management module which fit in a special management slots of the IBM Chassis. It does not use up any Blades slots and does not require any software installation. It offers many monitoring & management features.

SUN Blades does not offer any equivalent to IBM Management Module. They only offer direct server management, which in turn means you still have to manage your blades as a normal rack server, not as a blade infrastructure.

Efficient utilization of available power resources


Active Energy Manager



ITComparison Team Comments





IBM Blades vs SUN Blades

IBM power management software are able to monitor the power per blade, per chassis, & per module.

IBM Active Energy manager can integrate with third party monitoring tools to integrate with your already existing management

IBM Active Energy Manager can cap power usage based on trend data & without risking the operation of the blades

IBM Active Energy Manager can monitor IBM Blades, System X, IBM Storage,  P-Series, & anything connected to IBM Intelligent PDUs.

SUN did not seems to offer any equivalent at the time of our test. Neither the SUN partner nor our search on the internet were able to find any equivelant power management tool from SUN. This will be update if any appears in the future.

Unpacking Offering Assembeled at customer site (Default)

Fully Installed (Charge apply)

Fully Installed + third party apps installed (Charge Apply)

Assembeled at customer site (Default)

Fully Installed (Charge apply)

ITComparison Team Comments Both IBM & SUN Ship their blades systems to be assembeled on the customer site.
Investment Protection Across Chassis compatibility Each Chassis is a fully different game.
ITComparison Team Comments


IBM Blades vs SUN Blades

IBM has been successful in making their chassis totally backward compatible with their current & older modules and blades and most of their newer modules and blades fit in all of their chassis with performance restrictions in rare cases, but that offer a great investment protection to customers who is upgrading their chassis comparing to SUN which forcing their customers to toss their old blades and modules out as none of it is compatible across chassis. Who knows if the next SUN chassis will follow up the same path as their current one, which mean a total lost of investment when upgrading.


Other Related Comparisons:


   IBM Blade Server vs HP Blade Server 

   IBM Blade Server vs Dell Blade Server

   HP Blade Server  vs Dell Blade Server

   HP Bade Server   vs SUN Blade Server

   Dell Blade Server vs SUN Blade Server

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