Silicon Systems proves Intel wrong

New Zealand company, Silicon Systems, recently proved a point to Intel with the first sale in Australasia of an Intel-based blade server solution.

Now, the market seems to be opening up for the product, with evaluation units at several government departments and scientific institutions. "We're also on the verge of another sale," sales and marketing director, Liam O'Keefe, said.

The first sale was to the New Zealand Stock Exchange, which bought two chassis, each with seven blades.

It nearly wasn't so. Although Silicon Systems had been an Intel premier partner for five years, Intel considered the company too small to provide blade solutions and was prepared to sell them out of Australia.

"We said we were really keen and they eventually agreed to us selling them here," O'Keefe said.

Silicon Systems invested heavily in the technology and was able to bid for the Stock Exchange business at lower prices than IBM or HP, O'Keefe said.

"The other important selling point was that we build the solutions from scratch, so we have a requirement for more intimate technical knowledge, and we provide local support," he said.

The eventual appointment of Silicon Systems by Intel to integrate and support blade servers follows a trend in the Asia-Pacific market toward locally produced and supported server solutions.

Blade servers provide a modular solution to the growing space and management issues created by rack servers. Based on a central chassis, they comprise single-board servers containing up to four processors, memory, local disk storage, network connectivity and SAN connectivity. They can be hot-swapped.

O'Keefe said the chassis was expensive but the blades themselves were relatively cheap.

He estimated the crossover threshhold on cost, compared to rack mounts, was four servers.

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