-made for Their SMB Customers"> HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is also offering services called HP Solution Blocks that allow users to custom-order a range of third-party ISV applications or order training and updates from HP. In addition, HP is offering a new storage bladethe SB600cthat will work with the c3000 and c7000 enclosures. Other midmarket-friendly features in Shorty include reduced power and cooling costs, lower costs for companies looking to set up a SAN, and simplified cabling. Midmarket IT managers can also use the Solution Blocks to order systems with software applications already built in and ready to run. Blades are a key area of interest to HP and its competitors. While not as big a market as industry-standard x86 servers, blades remain one of the most important market segments for top-tier OEMs. In August, research company IDC said blade revenue increased 36 percent in the second quarter; HP led the way with a 47.2 percent market share. IBM placed second with 32.3 percent."What we have done with Shorty is move that whole [HP] Adaptive Infrastructure into this box," Livermore said. "Shorty has all the servers and storage and the technology around power and cooling inside it. Its got the interconnect technology inside of it. It has the management software inside of it. It has got the automation tasks around configuration management inside of it." Russ Stringer, a server engineer and disaster recovery expert with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, in Birmingham, oversees an enterprise-class IT infrastructure but is intrigued by the possibility of using the c3000 at remote offices for either storage backup or creating a virtual desktop infrastructure using thin-client PCs. Stringer has used HP c-Class blades in the companys main data center to save on power and cooling and to consolidate older servers. "As a company, we have made a decision to go to blades for space, power and cooling," Stringer said. As for the new blades, "Im looking at one, and their standard power supply is 110 [volts], so I dont have to worry about pulling 220 [volts] into a remote office. It also allows us to use our stock of spare parts if something goes wrong." For Dell, offering enterprise-level storage at an affordable price meets a growing demand from SMBs. Michael Dell said his companys research shows that less than 20 percent of small businesses and less than one-third of midsize companies use advanced storage systems such as SANs. Forty-one percent of small businesses say expanding storage capacity is a top priority for the next 12 months, but high-end Fibre Channel SANs are considered too costly and complex to administer and require special skills that most SMBs dont have, Dell said. A fully configured Dell MD3000i storage server, with seven drives and set up for 16 ports and 18TB of capacity, will retail for about $13,000, said Darren Thomas, Dells senior vice president for storage. Henry Baltazar, an analyst at The 451 Group, told eWeek that as more SMB customers move from direct-access storage to iSCSI, many more products like the MD3000i will become available. "This [product] is catering to that lower end of the market," Baltazar said. "Well be seeing a lot more of these enterprise solutions trickle down as well. It will create even more competition. Its a preview of things to come."
The trick now is to expand the blade market from the enterprise to midsize companies that are familiar enough with the technology to begin considering blades as an alternative to traditional rack-mount servers to address issues of power, cooling and space.