HP, IBM Unveil Blade Servers Optimized for Virtualization

IBM, Hewlett-Packard just happen to make their announcements on the same day. IBM reveals the BladeCenter PN41, the first to support Deep Packet Inspection technology. HP introduces its ProLiant BL495c virtualization blade as the world's first designed to host virtual machines.

It's rather interesting that both IBM and Hewlett-Packard decided to unveil on the same day, Sept. 2, new virtualization-ready blade servers that have been in development for months.
It's reminiscent of NBC and CBS, which often appear to be in cahoots of some kind when Jay Leno and David Letterman "just happen" to take vacations at the same time, causing the two networks to air reruns against each other rather than the more lucrative live show vs. rerun, therefore leveling the playing field for the substantial advertising dollars those two late-night shows bring to their owners. There's a lot of give and take when it comes to television programming, and the balance of sales power is a tricky proposition.
Network officials will deny there's any collusion. But don't necessarily believe it. Similar things happen in the IT world, most often for channel sales reasons.
The IT giants are presenting slightly different takes on their new hardware. IBM is calling its new blade an "intelligent" one designed to reduce security threats, such as DoS (denial of service) attacks and viruses, while better managing network traffic for optimal performance.
IBM said the new blade, the BladeCenter PN41, is the first to support DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) technology from CloudShield Technologies, a partnering network services management and security provider. The BladeCenter PN41 deeply examines the "packets" of data streaming across the Internet or corporate networks, so they can be routed to reduce security threats.
The PN41 joins a list of products that comprise IBM's Telecom Integrated Solution for Security, an integrated hardware, software and services framework that allows communications service providers to deliver carrier-grade network services virtually free of malicious traffic.
In addition to the IBM BladeCenter, the key components of the Telecom Integrated Solution for Security include IBM Proventia Intrusion Prevention and IBM Tivoli Security Operations Manager along with hardware and software from IBM business partners.
For more details on the IBM BladeCenter product line, go here.
The rundown on HP's ProLiant Blade
HP introduced the ProLiant BL495c virtualization blade and described it as the "world's first server blade designed specifically to host virtual machines."
The BL495c's main new feature is that it eliminates the usual-suspect virtualization performance problems of memory bottlenecks, data storage and network connections, HP Executive Vice President Ann Livermore told me.
"To do it [virtualization] right means successfully managing and automating mixed physical and virtual environments," Livermore said. "We [now] have the industry's broadest portfolio for virtualized environments, covering applications and operations management, infrastructure and client architectures."
For more details on the new HP offerings, go here.
HP also revealed some self-commissioned research that reported that while 86 percent of technology decision-makers have implemented virtualization projects, the vast majority of respondents expect to have virtualized only 25 percent of their technology environments by 2010.
Many IT managers surveyed said they anticipate reaching up to 75 percent virtualization of their total environments at some point. However, only one-third of them said they recognize virtualization as a valuable business tool. Two-thirds of the respondents said they view virtualization only as a "technology enabler."
"There really needs to be a lot more education for decision-makers regarding the business value of having a virtualized system," Livermore said. "These things tend to take time, we know. It does represent a major change in the way IT is deployed. But the sooner companies get to understand that virtualization really is a business advantage, the better their systems will operate."
The more "education" that is published, the more virtualized blade servers HP and IBM undoubtedly will sell-if they work well, of course. These are advanced, feature-loaded servers-there's no question about it. But this is not only news: It's also about creating a favorable marketing environment for sales.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...