HP Wants Midmarket

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-09-12 Print this article Print

to Get Shorty "> Hewlett-Packard is about to change the boundaries of the blade market by going small. Specifically, HP on Sept. 12 unveiled a smaller, more convenient blade enclosure to its line of c-Class blade servers that it expects will give the vendor a blade play for midmarket buyers who previously considered blades a tool of large enterprises with massive data centers and big budgets.
The new product, dubbed the BladeSystem c3000 and nicknamed "Shorty" for its 10.5-inch height, is designed to run cheap and small. It plugs into a standard 110- or 220-volt wall socket and the blade enclosure, which can hold up to eight blades in a smaller frame with less cabling, fits tighter quarters—important when space is a major obstacle to growth. The c3000 is accompanied by available 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.
HP also released a new storage blade—the SB600c—compatible with c3000 and c7000 enclosures. With the c3000 rolling out immediately, HP believes that it has succeeded in designing a set of hardware and services for midmarket and midsize business, some 500,000 companies worldwide with between 100 and 1,000 employees it considers an untapped market for enterprise class systems, said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HPs Technology Solutions Group, in an interview with eWEEK. HP decided to create an easier-to-use system that gives companies enterprise-like computing and storage power on limited IT budgets, space and staff, Livermore said. "Suddenly, what we see are a lot of midsize companies that need simple-to-manage but big, strong computing capabilities, and so we see a need for small IT sites that have big compute and storage needs," Livermore said. "They have a need for a lot of computing power but have a very small IT staff, and they have limited capabilities around power and computing and limited expertise around particular technologies …. What we are trying to do is hit that segment with this blade offering." The new c3000, or Shorty, according to HP, addresses a number of these issues by reducing power and cooling costs, reducing the cost for companies looking to set up a SAN (storage area network) and simplifying the cabling. Midmarket IT managers can also use the Solutions Blocks for ordering systems with software application already built-in and ready to run. Blades are certainly an area of great interest to HP, and the company is not alone. While not as large as the industry-standard, rack-mounted x86 servers, blades remain one of the most important segments of the market to top-tier OEMs. According to IDCs Aug. 23 survey of the server market, blade revenue increased 36 percent, with HP leading the way with a 47.2 percent market share. IBM placed second with 32.3 percent. The trick now is to expand the blade market from the enterprise to midmarket and midsize companies that are now familiar enough with the technology to begin considering blades as an alternative to traditional rack-mount servers as one way to address issues of power, cooling and space. Michael Speyer, an analyst at Forrester Research, said HP is already a credible player in the midmarket—IBM and Dell being its two chief competitors—and that technology such as the c3000 will help strengthen that position as the company looks to grow in this lucrative market. Click here to read more about IBMs midmarket push. "The midmarket . . . is looking for products that can deliver the [computing] complexity of the enterprise with the management complexity taken away," Speyer said, adding that storage is one area that both enterprise and midmarket companies continue to look to invest in. "A lot of it depends on how big the storage needs are going to get and this solution does give smaller businesses a nicely scalable data center in the box and a small form factor environment. HP is also offering critical apps such as CRM without having to go out and invest in a mini server farm." That concept is also in line with HPs plans for its own adaptive infrastructure initiative. "What we have done with Shorty is move that whole adaptive infrastructure into this box," said Livermore. "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." Page 2: HP Wants Midmarket to Get Shorty


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