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Smaller Businesses Embrace Blade Servers

Vendors like HP and IBM are hoping to cash in on the interest by designing blade server systems specifically for smaller businesses.

The blade server wars are heating up, and this time the battlefield is the small and mid-sized businesses, whose specific needs and volume potential have led market leaders Hewlett-Packard and IBM to tailor specific new platforms to meet their requirements.

IBM since June has been touting its BladeCenter S platform, which has a Dec. 18 roll-out scheduled and is targeted specifically at SMBs. Hewlett-Packard last month introduced a new blade server chassis dubbed "Shorty" that the company claims will provide mid-size companies with an "easy-to-configure data center in box."

The efforts to provide mid-size businesses with tailored blade platforms represent something of a "catch-up" effort for IBM and HP, which both were caught by surprised at the high level of server blades into data centers of medium-sized businesses, said Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, in an interview.

Blades were initially designed for large enterprise and service provider-level installations, where the higher densities enabled by the installations were a top priority, he said. But smaller businesses also turned to server blades for the benefits of the associated platform ecosystems, which provide a single cabinet for consolidation of servers, cables, and simplified monitoring and management.

"With the mid-sized businesses it really is more about integration than density," Haff said. "Blades are started to prove very popular with the mid-market because of their compactness, and now the vendors are bringing out these specialty SMB configurations in hopes that blades will be even more rapidly adopted."

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