HP Grabs for RLX Blades

HP plans to acquire RLX Technologies in order to use the company's software to bolster its own blade server management offerings.

Hewlett-Packard on Monday announced plans to acquire blade server pioneer RLX Technologies for an undisclosed sum.

After the purchase, Hewlett-Packard Co. said, it plans to merge RLX Technologies Inc.s blade server management software with its own hardware resource management offering.

This will make the HP management software easier to use and, by extension, make its blade server systems more desirable, HP said in a statement.

HP, which has purchased three companies in as many weeks, is ultimately seeking to bolster its software business.

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HPs software group, which has lagged despite well-known products such as HP OpenView and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, has been one of the chief turnaround targets of Mark Hurd, the companys CEO, who took the helm on April 1.

Previously, HP announced plans to acquire AppIQ Inc. for its storage management software and Peregrine Systems Inc. to boost HPs asset resource management software.

Now, as it did with Peregrine Systems ServiceCenter software, the Palo Alto, Calif., computer giant aims to merge RLX Technologies software with its own over time.

RLX Technologies Control Tower management software, HP said, has particular strengths in Linux software environments, as it was built from open-source software, and is also strong for easing set-up, provisioning and monitoring of blades for small and medium businesses.

HP plans to merge the Control Tower software with HP Systems Insight Manager, a hardware management software suite which works with HP OpenView. IT plans to handle the integration in two steps.

HP will first work on Control Tower to allow it, as a stand-alone application, to interface within HP Systems Insight Manager, an element of OpenView, for existing customers. Following that, HP said, it will merge Control Tower features into Systems Insight Manager.

Blade servers, which are far smaller than standard rack-mount servers, allowing them to be backed more tightly into a traditional computer server rack, are becoming more popular.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about developments in blade server hardware.

But for RLX, the sale marks the end of a tough existence.

The company burst on the scene in 2000 with a low-power blade server, based on Transmeta Corp.s processors. At that time, blade servers were still a new concept and RLX Technologies garnered a lot of attention.

Despite its ability to offer unique features, such as low power consumption, the startup suffered through its own perfect storm, including some resistance to its initial choice of Transmeta Corp. processors and the economic downturn, which began in late 2000, during which few businesses adopted new technology.

RLX responded to the market conditions and to competition by brand-name PC makers such as HP and IBM by revamping its machines and introducing a line of servers with Intel Corp. processors. But, by many accounts, its Control Tower software was what really stood out.

Blade servers, which share resources such as network connections and power supplies, have their own specific management needs, which HP said RLX Technologies software addresses well for Linux users and SMBs.

By December 2004, RLX had dropped its hardware business and changed its focus from blade hardware to developing and marketing its blade management software.

HP said it expects the acquisition to be completed within 30 days and the final integration of the company to be completed in 2006.

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