Hewlett-Packard is looking to bring its blade architecture to the telecommunications industry with a new platform that combines its c-Class server and chassis architecture along with the company's Virtual Connect management tools.
The HP BladeSystem Carrier-Grade Platform, which the Palo Alto, Calif., company announced Dec. 5, combines a standard HP blade and enclosure that have been specifically reinforced to meet the standards of the telecom industry.
The new platform is compliant with NEBS 3 (Network Equipment Building System) —an important designation for servers housed in more hostile, telecom environments compared to those environments typically found in a standard enterprise data center.
While HP manufactures rack-mounted servers that are NEBS-complaint, this new platform is the first time that the company is using its c-Class blade architecture for telecoms, said Christine Martino, vice president of Telecom Platforms. Martino added that the company is moving away from the ATCA (Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture) telecom specification.
With the new blade platform, HP is looking to deliver more industry-standard hardware, along with services, to a market that has typically relied on proprietary equipment for its IT infrastructure. In addition to using a standard, Intel-based blade, Martino said HP will also offer Linux with the new platform, including Debian GNU/Linux that has been customized for telecom carriers.
When it comes to overall blade server shipments, HP remains the top vendor, according to a Nov. 29 report from IDC.
However, there is significant competition in the telecom industry from other blade vendors. Sun Microsystems, which also has years of experience in this particular industry, has watched its telecom business increase in the last year—about 38 percent—and the company recently updated its own portfolio with new blades that use its UltraSPARC T2 processor. IBM, another significant player in the blade market, is also looking to sell more of its BladeCenter systems into the telecom space.
Lee Doyle, an analyst with IDC, said both network and equipment providers within the telecom industry, such as AT&T, Verizon and Nokia, are looking for a much more scalable hardware to meet the growing needs of their IT infrastructure, which supports a range of services from IPTV to media servers to cell phone and texting services.
"A lot of the telecommunications industry is focused on software and services right now, and it's an opportunity for companies like HP and IBM and Sun to leverage the volume pricing and performance of their server and storage products for this particular industry," Doyle said.
Telecommunications, media and entertainment represent about $9 billion in annual sales for HP and Martino said the company would continue to roll out more and more hardware, software and services within the next year for this industry.
Click here to read eWEEK Labs' review of the HP c3000 blade system.
The new platform includes a new enclosure, the HP BladeSystem c7000-cg, which holds up to 16 blades. The blade that HP is including in the platform is called the BL4600c-cg, a two-way system that uses Intel's dual-core Xeon processors and includes hot-plug SAS (serial-attached SCSI) hard disk drives and support for multiple I/O cards.
HP is also including its own Virtual Connect management software, which allows the user to create virtual interconnect fabrics and works with either Ethernet or Fibre Channel. The platform also offers NEBS-complaint DC power supplies that run direct current from 36 to 72 volts.
The platform, which supports both the Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Debian GNU/Linux operating systems, will be available in January.
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