HP Aims New Blade Server at Mainframe Users

HP is trying to find another market for its Itanium processors: IBM mainframe customers.

Hewlett-Packard introduced a new industrial-strength blade server, Integrity NonStop NB50000c BladeSystem, on June 16 at its annual Technology Forum & Expo in Las Vegas, and aimed it directly at existing IBM mainframe users for consideration as an alternative system.

The new blade server, a cousin of the company's highly successful BladeSystem C-class series-which it debuted two years ago-is designed specifically for high-transaction industries such as financial, telecommunications, public sector and high-volume Web 2.0 companies.

"When we came out with the C-class blades, we said were going to eventually 'blade everything,'" Jim Ganthier, HP's director of BladeSystem marketing, told eWEEK. "So this is just the next chapter in doing such.
"Using Gartner numbers, we have about 43 percent unit share and 51 percent revenue share in the blade market, so we have leadership there. We want to take that leadership and drive it even deeper into the data center [with these new blades]."
In other words, HP is boldly aiming the new server at established IBM mainframe customers in an effort to convince them to move to racks of blades.
The NonStop BladeSystem, which uses the same amount of power as existing NonStop servers, delivers twice the performance and occupies half the data center space, Ganthier said.
"This [server] comes out of the Tandem heritage-24/7 availability that serves as the infrastructure for the world: all the stock exchanges, payment networks, emergency services and the like," Randy Meyer, HP's director of NonStop Business Critical Systems, told eWEEK.
While HP is positioning the new blade as a replacement for mainframes, analyst Charles King of Pund-IT said he thinks that may not ultimately be the most realistic market for this product.
"The NonStop line originated at Tandem in the 1980s and '90s, and then went to Compaq in that merger," King told eWEEK. "It then came to HP in the Compaq [2002] deal. It was a very good transaction server-I believe Target was one of the biggest customers back then [in the '90s].
"But while they're trying to sell this as a replacement for IBM mainframes, I frankly don't see it as a huge winner in that market. They have tried to do this in the past, but only have had limited success. HP has taken a hit with [investing in] Itanium-based servers, and frankly they need to find new markets in which to sell them."
King said he thinks it would be better to try to sell the NonStop to existing HP customers that might have one or two older mainframes running legacy applications. Those customers might be more open to replacing their older hardware, King said.
Key features of the new NonStop blade include double the processing power in half the physical footprint through multicore technology and HP BladeSystem; enhanced system management tools; and patented 24/7 fault-tolerant software built on standard components, Meyer said.
HP also announced an incentive program that provides an HP Integrity NonStop NB50000c BladeSystem at no charge and a full year of platform software to customers who choose to migrate from mainframe architectures, Meyer said. Details can be found here.

The HP Integrity NonStop NB50000c BladeSystem is available now. For pricing information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...