Hewlett-Packard Co. is entering the server blade market with its own products and a bid to secure third-party industry support as well.
Tuesday, HP is expected to announce a family of bladed products, including server, storage, networking, and management blades. Additionally, through an open hardware program, HP will attempt to convince third party companies to adopt its architecture, based upon the CompactPCI bus.
HP can put 38 blades into a 2U rack, with each blade measuring 18 inches deep by 19 inches wide by 13U tall. "Were not looking to be the most dense solution in the marketplace," said John Miller, product marketing manager for HP, Palo Alto, Calif. "Were more focused on market needs," such as customability and services, he said.
Although the perceived market for bladed servers has been hurt by the exit of dozens of Internet startups, market research firm International Data Corp. still estimates the bladed server market will reach $2.9 billion by 2005. HP is targeting the application or Internet access tier within large enterprises, hoping to complement a companys established array of servers.
"We plan to expand the pie rather than take a portion of it," Miller said.
HP counts Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intel Corp., and Transmeta among its partners, although the company plans to market only Intel-based Pentium III-based blades, a PA-RISC PA-8600 option, and a future Itanium-based blade as well. Currently, the only server blade option is a 700-MHz Pentium III; clock speeds on the future server blades have yet to be determined.
HPs storage blades contain two 30-Gbyte drives each, while the networking blades include the companys ProCurve 10-Gbit/s networking switch. The management blades serve to log events and monitor the inventory of the chassis, as well as monitor the management and payload LANs. All of the blades are NEBS compliant, able to be sold to telecom providers.
Typically, a configuration would include 16 server blades, 16 storage blades, and six networking or management blades, all sold within HPs bh7800 chassis. However, not all of them may necessarily come from HP.
Although the company is among the first to market in the bladed server arena, HP is attempting to consolidate its position by embarking on a program to have partners develop their software for the blades as well. Miller said the companys approach is a three-tiered one: HP will pair a customer with a development partner; if more service is required, HP will volunteer its labs division; and, if necessary, HP will OEM the product for the customer. HP is targeting three initial segments, web hosting, caching, and streaming, and partnering with RealNetworks, Inktomi, Apache, and other firms to develop the program.
HP begia taking orders for the blades on Dec. 1; the company will ship the products in January. The estimated U.S. retail price starts at $1,925 for a single server blade or $7,525 for an HP blade server chassis with one management blade. According to Miller, the PA-RISC blade has yet to be priced, and will ship a "couple of months" after the Pentium III-based blade ships in January.