IBM to Add New Solutions, Storage to BladeCenter

The company plans to grow its "solutions in a box" offerings to include such areas as retail and banking, and is also looking to add a storage-based blade.

SOMERS, N.Y.—IBM is looking to expand the integrated offerings based on its blade server platform.

The computer maker already offers a range of "solutions in a box" for its BladeCenter platform, covering such topics as security, Linux and midsize businesses. In the coming months, IBM plans on growing its offerings to include such areas as retail and banking, executives said in interviews with eWEEK.

The company also is looking to roll out a storage-based blade to add to the compute and networking blades it already offers. They would not elaborate on a timetable for the new blades, though Peter McCaffrey, director of IBMs TotalStorage program, said it would be "in the not-too-distant future."

The moves will add to what IBM says is a key platform in its portfolio. The company has aggressively expanded its BladeCenter offerings over the past couple of years, and now is the top blade server vendor with more than 39 percent of the market, according to research firm IDC, in Framingham, Mass.

IBM offers blades running Xeon processors from Intel Corp. and Opteron from Advanced Micro Devices Inc., as well as its own PowerPC 970.

Susan Whitney, general manager of IBMs eServer xSeries, said she expects BladeCenter sales to continue to climb as businesses look to consolidate the number of systems running in their data centers. Blade servers slip into a chassis like books, sharing such resources as cabling and power supplies.

The combination of blade servers and virtualization technology continue to grow the opportunities for the BladeCenter platform, particularly eating into the low-end of the Unix market, she said.

The solutions in a box offer what many customers—particularly SMBs (small and midsize businesses)—are looking for: integrated offerings that are easy to deploy and manage. Retail and branch banking are the type of SMBs that would find such integrated offerings useful, Whitney said.

For example, the Security in a Box is a Linux-based offering that includes an integrated security infrastructure, enabling customers to deploy and manage multiple security applications, including firewall and intrusion prevention. Like the other business-in-a-box offerings, it also includes reference architectures.

The storage blade will expand BladeCenters capabilities in that area, McCaffrey said. Currently IBM offers integrated Fibre Channel switch modules for storage area networks from Brocade Communication Systems Inc., McData Corp. and QLogic Corp.

McCaffrey said the new storage blades will enable IBM to address customer demands for greater and faster access to their data. He declined to elaborate on what the new blades would entail, such as whether they will include disks or they would work as controllers for storage systems.

"You can see the need and requirements for storage blades," McCaffrey said. "Thats something were addressing."


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