Getting physical The first thing I did after we rolled Shorty into the working part of the lab was start unplugging stuff. This turns out to be easier than I expected. Each of the blades has a lever that pops out, and you use that to loosen the blade from its backplane connection. Then, you simply grab it and pull it out. Its pretty nondramatic. Insertion of the blades is simply the reverse. You slide the blade into place and use the lever to pull the blade into its backplane connector.There are a few limitations on what goes where. For example, the HP StorageWorks SB600c AIO (All In One) Storage Server consists of two blades. The server portion, which is essentially an HP BL460c server, must sit immediately below the storage blade. The BL 680c and BL 685c blades must have two adjacent slots available because they take up both of them.Interconnect modules, which are actually Ethernet and FC switches, slide into slots on the rear of the chassis. You can choose switches from HP, Cisco and Brocade, and the Ethernet switches support 10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet and iSCSI. This combination of switches means you can make your blades part of an existing corporate SAN, or you can set up the onboard storage server as a NAS (network-attached storage) device or as an iSCSI SAN. The chassis also supports InfiniBand. The selection of blades includes an HP StorageWorks Ultrium 448c tape blade that supports LTO (Linear Tape-Open) 2 technology, allowing up to 400GB to be stored on a single tape. The blade includes HPs Data Protector Express, and it supports what HP calls OBDR (one button disaster recovery) for easy recovery of applications and data. The tape is bootable and the restoration is automatic. At 400GB, the tape is not large enough to back up the entire storage server if you were to fill it to capacity, and theres no autoloader available for this drive. However, a higher-capacity drive is in the works, according to HP officials. The initial tested configuration of the c3000 was the same as the configuration that HP sent out to its channel partners to introduce the device. It included a pair of servers, the storage server and the tape blade, leaving three slots empty. Those slots come with covers designed to maintain cooling. Eventually we found enough servers to fill up all eight of the slots. According to HP officials, there are seven server choices, three storage choices and six different operating systems, including Open VMS (Virtual Memory System) and Linux. All the servers I tried out were running Windows. Those server blades, incidentally, all contain their own storage. This means that in addition to the 1.16TB on the SAN, each has a pair of disk drives. The servers can also connect to external storage and backup, including external autoloading tape drives. HP officials said that the c3000 is designed for virtualization, and that it can be set up to virtualize both the LAN and the SAN. The device includes migration tools for SQL database managers and Microsoft Exchange. The company said that it expects such migrations to be a major part of the offerings from their channel partners. Pricing HPs suggested retail prices for the c3000 and the blades that go with it are clearly priced for smaller businesses. The configuration that I tested, which is the same as the one that went out to HPs channel partners, is just over $22,000. (A pricing breakdown is at the end of this story.) This includes a ProLiant BL460c, a ProLiant BL465c (those are Intel Xeon 5110 and AMD Opteron 2210 servers, respectively), the HP StorageWorks Ultrium 448c tape blade, the HP StorageWorks SB600c AIO 1.16 TB SAS Storage Blade, HP GbE2 Ethernet blade switch and the c3000 enclosure, which includes the administration module, power supplies and fans. The company said that the break-even point is three to five bladesin other words, you buy the c3000 and that many modules, and itll cost you less than buying the equivalent in discrete hardware. Perhaps most encouraging, despite my best efforts, I was unable to actually break anything. Running the c3000 was clearly aimed at companies without a dedicated data center staff, and the device itself was clearly designed to fit into an office environment. HP appears to have met its goal of opening up the efficiencies of blade computing to small and medium enterprises, giving them the benefits and savings that were previously the exclusive domain of much larger companies. I dont know whether it really is so easy a VP could use it, but it sure seems that way. Pricing breakdown: HP BladeSystem c-Class c3000 Enclosure: $4,299 GbE2 Ethernet Blade Switch: $1,399 HP StorageWorks SB600c AIO 1.16 TB SAS Storage Blade: $9,968 HP StorageWorks Ultrium 448c Tape Blade: $1,999 HP ProLiant BL460c 1.6 GHz Xeon server blade: $2,359 HP ProLiant BL465c 1.8 GHz Opteron server blade: $2,079 Price as tested: $22,103 Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.