IBM is to put solid state storage on its blades this month, increasing reliability and reducing power consumption.

The company will offer SanDisk's Serial ATA 5000 2.5-in. solid-state drive as an option for its Intel-based, high-end BladeCenter HS21 XM blade server by the end of July. Flash storage brings IBM closer to removing components of blade systems that can fail and lead to downtime, said Scott Tease, worldwide marketing manager for BladeCenter at IBM.

"Anything that has moving parts tends to cause problems for server administrators," said Tease. "[But] there is a comfort feeling of having images stored locally on blades and customers are just not willing to give that up. That's where flash comes in."

According to Tease, SanDisk's flash drive uses up to 87 percent less power than two spinning hard disks, helping to soften rising data centre costs. By integrating the SanDisk technology with the HS21 XM, energy consumption can be shaved by as much as 18 watts per blade, 252 watts per chassis and 1,512 watts per rack, Tease said.

Storage analysts have said that adoption rates for solid-state drives will rise significantly over the next three to five years as users and manufacturers choose to deploy it as an alternative to hard disk drives due to the reduced power requirements, heat generation, and improved performance and seek times.

In fact, Tease said that IBM's preference is for customers to not have any spinning disks at all on the blade, but rather to rely on external devices for shared-storage purposes. However, he acknowledged that spinning disks are still the better fit in areas where additional capacity or faster write performance is required.

Tease said he envisions future potential for developments such as hybrid disk drives where cache lives in an appliance based on flash, or flash built onto blades to host a hypervisor.