HP Eyes SMBs in Blade Push

Hewlett-Packard Co. this week will announce an expansion of its Smart Office initiative.

Hewlett-Packard Co. this week will announce an expansion of its Smart Office initiative, targeted at small and midsize businesses, which includes a component built around the companys BladeSystem platform.

Launching May 2, Blades for Business will offer information, consulting and integration services to SMBs looking to start or expand their use of blade servers, according to Vince Gayman, director of worldwide SMB product programs for HP, in Palo Alto, Calif.

HP will offer training, marketing tools and incentives around BladeSystem to channel partners to push the blades. The vendor will begin bundling a 1U (1.75-inch) power supply into single-blade enclosures, a move Gayman said is designed to help SMBs integrate blades with other systems or grow their current blade environments.

The current power supply is aimed more at larger enterprises, Gayman said. The smaller 1U power supply fits in more with the needs of midsize companies.

"These services have been available, but they tended to be targeted toward the data center," Gayman said. "Were trying to bring it down to an appropriate level."

Almost half of all HP BladeSystems are sold to midsize businesses, Gayman said. Currently, blades account for about 8 percent of all volume servers HP sells, and the company expects that to grow to 50 percent by 2008.

Overall, market researcher IDC, of Framingham, Mass., expects that blades will be a $9 billion market by 2008, when they will account for about 29 percent of all server sales. Last fall, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., rolled out a low-cost BladeCenter chassis and "business in a box" offerings that focus on Linux and Microsoft Corp. environments for SMBs.

Outsourcer CenterBeam Inc. has been using HP blade servers for three years. The San Jose, Calif., company saves money and can offer greater reliability and scalability to its customers because of such features as multiprocessor and hot-swap blades. HPs support is also important.

"Its a symbiotic relationship. [HP officials] share their product road map with us, we share our thoughts and concerns about the road map, and we share our plans. The products they provide reflect some of the things that weve talked to them about," said Subhash Tantry, chief technology officer at CenterBeam.

Lance Leventhal, conference director of the Server Blade Summit, which runs this week in Santa Clara, Calif., said it will be another two years before blades can be considered mainstream.

The challenges are dealing with the power consumption and heat generated by racks of blades, and managing them as they grow in data centers from hundreds into the thousands.

"Sure, [management software] does well with 10 or 100 blades," Leventhal said. "But how well does it do with 100,000?"


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