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Blade-Server Market Heats Up With Services

Hewlett-Packard offers new switching capabilities, while Dell plans assessment services.

Momentum is picking up in the blade-server market. This week, Hewlett-Packard will unveil new switching capabilities for its product line, and in the next few weeks Dell plans to launch a service to help businesses design data centers best suited for utilizing blade servers.

HP will begin offering integrated Cisco Systems switches within its BladeSystem product line. It currently offers HP and Nortel Networks Ethernet switches and previously said it would offer a Brocade Communications Fibre Channel switch beginning in the second quarter.

To capitalize on the fast-growing blade-server market, Dell will offer an assessment service that includes customer-site visits, data-center evaluations to determine thermal conditions, and recommendations for optimized blade implementations.

Dell's PowerEdge 1855 chassis can hold as many as 10 blade servers.
Dell might be considered a latecomer to the blade-server market. In November, it re-entered the market with a Xeon-based product line, more than a year after competitive products from IBM and HP were attracting attention from big businesses. And HP already offers assessment services, which Mark Potter, senior director of HP's BladeSystem line, says is based on HP's broad understanding of data-center requirements.

But Dell president and CEO Kevin Rollins says his company is in the position to move blades beyond a niche and into the mainstream. "The promise that blades would bring better density and better value is now starting to be realized," he says. "Up until we launched our product, blades were actually very expensive, and they didn't provide a customer payback."

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