HP ProLiant Microserver, Desktops Aimed at SMBs

HP unveils its Just Right IT portfolio of hardware and software, which it calls reliable, affordable technology for SMBs. At the center is its ProLiant Microserver system.

Hewlett-Packard is looking to make life easier for small and midsize businesses with a portfolio of products the company is calling Just Right IT.

Unveiled Sept. 8, the Just Right IT offerings range from a server and desktop PCs to storage products, printers, networking and communications solutions, and management and virtualization software. The goal is to give smaller businesses the reliability and manageability that larger enterprises enjoy with their IT purchases, but at appropriate prices, Lisa Wolfe, manager of HP's Worldwide Small and Midsize Business Leader, said in an interview with eWEEK.

"They don't have to compromise when buying IT," Wolfe said.

At the heart of the Just Right IT portfolio is HP's new ProLiant Microserver, designed to give the smallest of businesses full capabilities in a reliable and secure system, said Jim Ganthier, vice president of marketing for HP's Industry Standard Servers unit.

The system, built for businesses with 10 or fewer employees, is powered by an Athlon II chip from Advanced Micro Devices, and offers up to 8GB of DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory. Pricing starts at $329.

"This is a full-fledged ProLiant," Ganthier said. "This class of customer has the same kinds of problems that enterprises have."

Smaller businesses also are struggling with tightened IT budgets and the need to pare costs, he said. They also have additional problems, such as small or no IT staff and difficulty getting necessary credit for new technologies.

It's an attractive market for HP, Ganthier said, estimating that about 1.7 million businesses will be buying their first servers sometime in the next five years. HP is looking to differentiate itself from competitors by making the ProLiant's performance and reliability capabilities available to the space.

"We're going to take that and focus it on the SMB market," he said.

John Fruehe, AMD's director of product marketing for AMD server and workstation products, said in a company blog post that the ProLiant Microserver's attributes include reliability and affordability.

"Small businesses demand reliability because many, perhaps most, don't have a dedicated IT person-if they have a problem it can mean calling in an expensive consultant to resolve the situation," Fruehe wrote. "And if these small businesses are going to buy a server, it needs to be affordable. Quiet operation might not seem as intuitive, but in a really small office with a handful of employees, you don't want a jet engine, you want something quiet (and power efficient and that doesn't take up much space.)"

Along with the Microserver, HP also is offering its 500B and 505B Series business minitower desktops, which run Windows 7 and offer configurable hard drives and several bays and ports. As for storage, HP introduced the StorageWorks P2000 G3 Modular Smart Array and the P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance software. The P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance software enables businesses with virtualized servers to move shared storage without buying a physical SAN (storage area network) infrastructure.

In addition, HP announced the Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One and Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-All-in-One Web-connected printers, its new Insight with Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010 management software for companies with virtualized servers and storage, and Virtualization Smart Bundles, which can be used with Microsoft's Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 virtualization technology. Comprising storage, servers and networking technology, the Virtualization Smart Bundles are intended for customers that have never had virtualization capabilities in their infrastructure.