HP aims blades at SMBs

Hewlett-Packard on Monday announced it was expanding its Smart Office initiative, launched two years ago to help small and midsize business get the most out of their IT resources, with a program focusing on blade servers.

Blades for Business is aimed at helping SMBs understand how the compact systems can fit into their IT strategy. The program is launching on May 2 and will include information and resources on the HP Small Business Web site, consulting and integration services, and a new 1U power supply for a single HP BladeSystem chassis that is designed specifically for smaller implementations.

"It will bring down the price point and ease of deployment for small and midsize businesses," says Paul Miller, vice president of ProLiant and blade systems at HP.

SMB customers will be able to choose from HP's entire blade portfolio, including Intel- and AMD-based systems. By packaging the blades with the 1U power supply, as opposed to the existing 3U power package, customers will see savings in deploying as few as four blade servers, Miller says.

Today, customers need to deploy between six and eight blades to see cost benefits as opposed to traditional rack mount systems, Miller says.

"Our (SMB) customers are asking for blades," says Vince Gayman, director of worldwide SMB product programs at HP. "A lot of the features and functions we emphasize for data centers aren't really what they're looking for. They're looking for simplification in a rack, a way out of the cabling mess and an easier way to manage their server environment. These are the fundamental things blades let them do."

With Blades For Business, HP is playing catch up with IBM, which in October rolled out a new BladeCenter chassis designed to lower the cost and ease deployment of blade servers for SMBs. The SMB-focused BladeCenter offering includes "business-in-a-box" features aimed at simplifying the deployment of blades in Linux and Windows environments.

The blade market is growing fast and IDC expects it to account for nearly US$9 billion in server sales by 2008. SMBs are a large part of that growth, says Miller. HP already sells more than 40 percent of its blade servers into the SMB market, Miller says.

Pricing for Blade for Business packages has not yet been released.

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