Starting May 11, the Palo Alto, Calif., company will start offering blade customers a new set of services dubbed HP Proactive BladeSystem Services, which executives said will help customers address and solve problems in areas ranging from virtualization to management and security.
The idea is to offer blade users access to a wide array of HP resources and experts in order to address data center issues—space constraints, power and cooling—that go beyond routine and emergency hardware and software maintenance.
The new service is specifically geared toward customers that use HPs BladeSystem offerings, including the companys Integrity and ProLiant blade systems, storage blades, enclosures, networking, SAN (storage area network) devices and the companys management software.
The new set of services, which is available worldwide as of May 11, is meant for enterprise and midmarket businesses with 50 or more blades, said Brian Brouillette, vice president of HPs Technology Services.
"What we mean by proactive is that we want to help our customers understand their environment," Brouillette said. "Its about creating a plan and then helping them to implement that plan. When we talk about services, its not just about reacting to something bad that is happening. We want to be out in front before there is a problem."
Within the blade business, HP competes head-to-head with IBM for customers and market share. A Feb. 26 IDC study of the server market found that HP and IBM controlled about 75 percent of the worlds blade server revenue. Another study by Gartner found that blade revenue grew more than 36 percent in 2006.
IBM also offers a wide range of services for its own BladeCenter systems, including its own Blade Migration Center, which started in September, offering a series of incentives and enticements meant to attract customers away from HP and Dell.
Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, said HPs new service merely adds to what the company already offers to its enterprise customers.
"I dont see this as filling any particular gap in HPs portfolio," Haff wrote in an e-mail. "HP, like IBM, has a wide variety of services to help customers set up and optimize their infrastructures—blades, rack-mount servers and more."
Brouillette said HPs new services, which offer dedicated account managers, technical updates and customer access to HP engineers who can diagnose problems and develop plans to address them with help from tools developed by HP Labs, rival any service package offered by the companys competitors.
The services also fit into HPs "blade everything" strategy, which looks to use these highly dense systems to answer a wide range of IT problems, such as power, performance and space constraints.
"We think that we have a pretty good services footprint in the industry already," Brouillette said. "We also believe that what we have here is an absolute breakthrough and a new way to think about blades and hardware management."
In addition to offering the services through its direct sales team, Brouillette said HP would offer the services through its channel partners. "We designed this program from the beginning to flow through the channel with both our volume and value resellers," he said.
Before the official launch, HP tested the new service for about 10 months, including a series of tryouts in Australia.
The annual rate for the new service is $33,000 in the United States. The price varies in other countries.